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Feinstein

Dianne Feinstein dead at 90

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Breaking: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a trailblazing lawmaker and the longest serving female senator in U.S. history, has died at age 90, according to multiple sources.

First elected to the Senate in 1992, Feinstein rose to power in Washington after authoring the 1994 assault weapons ban and later became chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Feinstein’s physical and mental decline was the subject of a significant debate inside the Senate Democratic Caucus and across California earlier this year after she missed several months of work following a rough bout with shingles.

Feinstein returned to Washington in May and has been voting sporadically on the Senate floor and in committee. She voted on the Senate floor as recently as Thursday.

Feinstein’s death will set off a scramble in California as Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to appoint a caretaker for her seat to serve through the 2024 election.

Newsom previously promised to appoint a Black woman to fill the seat temporarily should Feinstein step down before her term ends in January 2025. There are currently no Black women serving in the Senate.

California Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee, Adam Schiff and Katie Porter are all running for the full six-year term to be decided in next year’s election.

Feinstein’s passing could also impact the ongoing government shutdown negotiations. With government funding running out at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, Senate leaders are counting on every vote to help advance a short-term funding bill later this weekend. It’s unclear how Feinstein’s passing could impact the timing of any legislation to fund the government.

Her death temporarily reduces Democrats’ majority in the Senate from 51 seats to 50.

Political trailblazer: Feinstein was elected to the Senate in 1992, the “year of the woman.” The California Democrat rose to national prominence when she became mayor of San Francisco following the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk. She served as mayor for nearly a decade before becoming a senator.

Feinstein was the first woman to hold a number of positions in government — she was the first woman to be mayor of San Francisco and the first woman elected to the Senate from California. Feinstein was also the first woman to chair the Senate Intelligence and Rules committees, and she was the first woman to hold the ranking member position in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

— Andrew Desiderio, Jake Sherman, Heather Caygle and Robert O’Shaughnessy

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.