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Dianne Feinstein remembered as a trailblazer and pioneer as tributes pour in after senator's death

Schumer, McConnell address Feinstein's death
Schumer, McConnell remember Sen. Dianne Feinstein, "a giant in the Senate" 11:37

Washington — A flood of tributes are pouring in following the death of California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, as Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers in the House and high-ranking government officials laud the trailblazing career of the longest-serving woman in the Senate.

Feinstein, who was 90, died at her home in Washington, D.C., after experiencing a spate of health issues that left her absent from the Senate for roughly three months earlier this year. She cast her final vote in the Senate on Thursday morning.

Here are some of the notable tributes released following her death:

President Biden

"Senator Dianne Feinstein was a pioneering American. A true trailblazer," President Biden said in a statement. 

The president recalled his time serving alongside Feinstein in the Senate, including on the Judiciary Committee, which Mr. Biden chaired, and said he had a "front row seat" to her accomplishments on the panel.

Democratic Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois, Dianne Feinstein of California and Joe Biden of Delaware speak during a Senate hearing on Nov. 13, 1993.
Democratic Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois, Dianne Feinstein of California and Joe Biden of Delaware speak during a Senate hearing on Nov. 13, 1993. Maureen Keating/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

"Dianne made her mark on everything from national security to the environment to protecting civil liberties. She's made history in so many ways, and our country will benefit from her legacy for generations," Mr. Biden said.

"Often the only woman in the room, Dianne was a role model for so many Americans — a job she took seriously by mentoring countless public servants, many of whom now serve in my Administration. She had an immense impact on younger female leaders for whom she generously opened doors," the president said. "Dianne was tough, sharp, always prepared, and never pulled a punch, but she was also a kind and loyal friend, and that's what Jill and I will miss the most."

Vice President Kamala Harris

Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Kamala Harris
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., left, and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., talk as they arrive in the Capitol for a vote on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) Bill Clark

Harris called Feinstein "one of the greatest public servants that California and our nation has ever known," and said she witnessed the senator's leadership while Harris served as San Francisco's district attorney and as California senator.

"In the tradition of so many great senators from California, she was not only a leader for our state, but for our nation and our world," Harris said. "Through her long career, Senator Feinstein worked across the aisle to help our nation live up to its promise."

The vice president said she and Feinstein worked closely together on the Senate Intelligence Committee and agreed "on the importance of strong American leadership."

"I saw firsthand how she worked courageously to ensure that our leadership was guided by our nation's values," Harris said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

As the Senate convened Friday morning, the Democratic leader held a moment of silence for Feinstein. Her desk was draped in a black cloak with a vase of white roses, a longtime Senate tradition when a senator dies.

"Sen. Dianne Feinstein was one of the most amazing people whoever graced the Senate, whoever graced the country," Schumer said in remarks on the Senate floor. "She had so many amazing, wonderful qualities wrapped up in one incredible human being. She was smart, she was strong, she was brave, she was compassionate. But maybe the trait that stood out most of all was her amazing integrity."

The majority leader praised Feinstein as a "giant in the Senate" who served as a role model for women across the country. The women in the Senate "stand on Dianne's shoulders," Schumer said, choking up at moments.

"Dianne didn't just push down doors that were closed for women," he said. "She held them open for generations of women after her to follow her."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell celebrate National Seersucker Day at the U.S. Capitol on June 11, 2015, in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell celebrate National Seersucker Day at the U.S. Capitol on June 11, 2015, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Haspel

McConnell, the Republican leader, said California and the nation "are better for [Feinstein's] advocacy and diligent service."

"She was an incredibly effective person at every line and at every level, and she was at all of those levels on the way to the Senate," he said in remarks on the Senate floor.

Following Schumer and McConnell, Feinstein's Democratic and Republican colleagues spoke to pay homage to the senator. They were joined on the Senate floor by members of California's congressional delegation.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

Speaking at the Capitol, the speaker of the House and fellow Californian honored Feinstein for her advocacy for their state and her long record of accomplishments.

"As California's longest-serving senator, Sen. Feinstein broke barriers, and blazed a trail for women. Her career was, by any standard, historic," McCarthy said. "Speaking personally, I worked with the senator for quite some time."

McCarthy recalled working with the senator on a 2016 water bill, saying: "We come from different parties, we have different philosophies, but we put our state first."

The speaker said Feinstein's role as the first woman to serve as mayor of San Francisco "inspired women from both sides of the aisle to seek elected office, and to have their voices heard."

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi, the former House speaker who still represents San Francisco, called Feinstein a "pillar of public service." She and members of California's congressional delegation led the House in a moment of silence for their fellow Californian.

"Her 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 said in a statement. 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Nancy Pelosi arrive for an event in, San Francisco on Oct. 27, 2006.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Nancy Pelosi arrive for an event in, San Francisco on Oct. 27, 2006. Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Pelosi noted Feinstein's history-making roles as the first female mayor of San Francisco and first woman to lead the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"Dianne's extraordinary career will continue to inspire countless young women and girls to pursue public service for generations to come," she said.

Sen. Chuck Grassley

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa called Feinstein "a true public servant" and said the two had a "wonderful working relationship" when he chaired the Judiciary panel and she was the ranking member as the committee's top Democrat.

Feinstein "did an outstanding job representing" Californians," he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Former President Barack Obama

President Obama greeted California Senator Dianne Feinstein after Air Force One landed at SFO Monday November 25, 2013 in San Francisco, Calif.
President Obama greets California Sen. Dianne Feinstein after Air Force One lands in San Francisco, California, on Nov. 25, 2013. Brant Ward/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Obama, who served alongside Feinstein in the Senate, remembered the California Democrat as "fierce" advocate for gun safety measures and civil rights, and said he relied on her as a "trusted partner" as he fought to pass the Affordable Care Act after assuming the presidency.

"The best politicians get into public service because they care about this country and the people they represent," Obama said in a statement. "That was certainly true of Dianne Feinstein, and all of us are better for it."

Hillary Clinton

"I'm deeply saddened by the passing of Dianne Feinstein," former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote on social media. "She blazed trails for women in politics and found a life's calling in public service. I'll miss her greatly as a friend and colleague and send my condolences to all who loved her."

Clinton and Feinstein served alongside one another in the Senate for eight years until Clinton was selected to lead the State Department.

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