Dianne Feinstein, previously the U.S.’s oldest sitting senator, died at 90 on September 29, 2023. The California Democrat was mourned across the aisle.
In the Senate
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he and his wife were “actual friends” with Feinstein, who had gifted him “a small depiction of the Capitol” as a wedding gift that still hangs on his wall. “Dianne was a trailblazer, and her beloved home state of California and our entire nation are better for her dogged advocacy and diligent service,” the Republican leader added.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called Feinstein “a giant” and “one of the most amazing people who ever graced the Senate.” Schumer praised her “relentless integrity,” calling her a “hero” and a “leader” who studied issues before taking a position on them.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said, “I had the privilege of serving with Dianne Feinstein for eleven years on the Senate Judiciary Committee and I was always grateful for her commitment to the Committee and to the Senate. She was a trailblazer for women, and our institution is the lesser for losing her. We disagreed on many things, but that never stopped her from being collegial and courteous. Dianne was an old-school statesman, who embodied class and who fought to solve real problems for California. She will be missed. Heidi and I are praying for her daughter Katherine and her entire family.”
Sen. Suzanne Collins (R-ME) showed the chamber a watercolor painting of a vase of flowers that Feinstein had painted for her.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said that he had “a wonderful working relationship” with Feinstein, adding that she was “a true public servant” who “did an outstanding job in the U.S. Senate representing the people of California.”
In the House
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said he and Feinstein worked together on many different bills, including “the most significant California water bill in 25 years.” “We come from different parties, we have different philosophies, but we put our state first…at the end of the day, the trailblazing of the first woman elected mayor, even coming from a different party, inspired women from both sides of the aisle to seek elected office, to have their voices heard,” he said.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the former House speaker, called Feinstein “a pillar of public service in California” and “a pioneering woman leader” whose “indomitable, indefatigable leadership made a magnificent difference for our national security and personal safety, the health of our people and our planet, and the strength of our Democracy.” Pelosi added, “We were not only colleagues, but neighbors and friends.”
Former Regan Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also paid tribute to Feinstein.
Dianne Feinstein will always be remembered as an extraordinary and influential figure in American political history. She was principled and dedicated.— Condoleezza Rice (@CondoleezzaRice) September 29, 2023
I was grateful to her for stepping across the aisle and introducing me to the Senate in my confirmation process. Rest in Peace. pic.twitter.com/NCVjiZNTI2
Feinstein introduced Rice at her 2005 confirmation hearing, saying, “It gives me great pleasure to introduce a friend and fellow Californian, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, as the president's nominee to be the next secretary of state…I would submit that Dr. Rice has the skill, the judgment and the poise and the leadership to lead in these difficult times. If confirmed, she will have the deep personal trust and confidence of the president; a real asset…indeed, this is a remarkable woman that I introduce to you today, and it is with great pride that I do so.”
Sen. Feinstein’s death may have sparked bipartisan conversations about age limits and term limits in congress, but her life and legacy will be remembered for trailblazing a path for women in politics and cultivating friendships across the aisle.
Clare Ashcraft (Center bias) is the Bridging and Bias Specialist at AllSides.