WASHINGTON — Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the longest-serving female U.S. senator in history, has died, according to a source familiar. She was 90.
Feinstein, the oldest member of the Senate, announced in February that she planned to retire at the end of her term and faced calls to resign from fellow Democrats over concerns about her health.
Feinstein’s death will California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom the power to appoint a replacement to fulfill the remainder of Feinstein’s term, keeping the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate through early January 2025.
Feinstein was first elected to the Senate in 1992 but her later years were marked by health concerns. She missed votes in late February and missed nearly three months of work due to having shingles.
“The senator is in California this week dealing with a health matter,” her spokesperson said at the time.
Feinstein dismissed calls to resign and her health, saying her concern was about serving the American people.
“The real question is whether I’m still an effective representative for 40 million Californians, and the record shows that I am,” she said.
The California Democrat was a major vocal advocate of gun control measures as she supported the assault weapons ban that then-President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1994. Since then, she has been vocal about stricter gun laws in the recent string of mass shootings.
Feinstein was a centrist Democrat, often clashing with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, voting against single-payer, government-run health care, and the Green New Deal climate proposal.
Amid concerns about her health, Feinstein said she would not seek reelection and would finish out her term before retiring.
“I remain committed to do what I said I would when I was re-elected in 2018: fight for Californians,” she said then.
Democratic Reps. Katie Porter, Adam Schiff, and Barbara Lee are running for Feinstein’s seat.
Feinstein is survived by her daughter, Katherine Feinstein, a San Francisco County Superior Court judge; her son-in-law, Rick Mariano; and her granddaughter, Eileen Feinstein Mariano.