Senator Dianne Feinstein, a prominent figure in national politics and in California’s Democratic party, has died at the age of 90.
According to a statement posted on her official Twitter account, Feinstein passed away on Thursday at her residence in Washington D.C.
While sources have confirmed her passing to The Associated Press, details regarding the exact cause of her death have not been disclosed at this time.
The New York Times, however, provided important health background on the senator prior to her death.
When she arrived at the Capitol last year after a more than two-month absence recovering from shingles, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California appeared shockingly diminished.
Using a wheelchair, with the left side of her face frozen and one eye nearly shut, she seemed disoriented as an aide steered her through the marble corridors of the Senate, complaining audibly that something was stuck in her eye.
Ms. Feinstein’s frail appearance was a result of several complications after she was hospitalized for shingles in February 2022, some of which she had not publicly disclosed. The shingles spread to her face and neck, causing vision and balance impairments and facial paralysis known as Ramsay Hunt syndrome.
The virus also brought on a previously unreported case of encephalitis, a rare but potentially debilitating complication of shingles, though the condition had “resolved itself” in March, according to a spokesman for the senator.
Born in 1933, she had a distinguished career, beginning with her graduation from Stanford University in 1955. Feinstein made history by becoming the first female mayor of San Francisco in 1978, following her predecessor’s tragic assassination.At the time of her passing, Senator Dianne Feinstein was the oldest serving U.S. Senator, a position she had held since her election in 1992.
Feinstein was widely recognized as a staunch advocate for the women’s rights movement. Her leadership played a pivotal role in championing the assault weapons ban during the Clinton Administration. Her efforts were instrumental in the passage of Clinton’s crime bill, which included the ban. However, it’s worth noting that the ban eventually expired and was not subsequently renewed.
From the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein: pic.twitter.com/rvcAmVk8O0
— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) September 29, 2023
In the final years of her career, concerns over Senator Feinstein’s age and declining health were raised, as reported by the BBC. In May, there were reports that she returned to the Senate in a wheelchair, at one point asking, “Where am I going?” Remarkably, she continued to actively participate in Senate activities and cast her vote as recently as the Thursday preceding her passing.
In July, a hot microphone captured a moment where Feinstein was instructed to “just say aye” during a crucial defense vote. She had initially stated, “For me to say I would like to support a yes vote on this. It provides 823 billion. That’s an increase of 26 billion for the Department of Defense. And it funds priorities submitted,” before her aide prompted her to say “aye.” It’s worth noting that shortly before her health began to decline, Feinstein chose not to seek reelection.
Throughout her life, Senator Feinstein was married three times. She had one daughter named Katherine with her first husband.