Area legislators react to death of ‘trailblazer’ Dianne Feinstein at 90

Ernst: Despite our differences, I was proud to partner with her
Many of the legislators praising U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein called her a “trailblazer” for women.
Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 11:27 AM CDT
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QUAD CITIES, Ill./Iowa (Associated Press, KWQC) - Many of the legislators praising U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein called her a “trailblazer” for women.

Feinstein of California, a centrist Democrat who was elected to the Senate in 1992 in the “Year of the Woman” and broke gender barriers throughout her long career in local and national politics, has died. She was 90.

Her office confirmed on Friday that she died on Thursday night at her home in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, lauded Feinstein’s life of service that “blazed a trail for women in politics and the future of girls across the nation. Despite our differences, I was proud to partner with her to help expose the true origins of COVID-19 and support women from abuse.”

U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said “Dianne was a trailblazer. She spent her time in office fighting for causes that many overlooked, and she made history with passage of the Assault Weapons Ban, Violence Against Women Act, Respect for Marriage Act, and as Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.”

Feinstein, the oldest sitting U.S. senator, was a passionate advocate for liberal priorities important to her state -- including environmental protection, reproductive rights and gun control -- but was also known as a pragmatic lawmaker who reached out to Republicans and sought middle ground.

“Our nation mourns a giant today,” U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, D, Illinois, said. “Dianne Feinstein was an inspiring, inspired woman who devoted her life to public service, shattering glass ceiling after glass ceiling and blazing a path for generations of women like me to follow.

“Her career was full of so many firsts—first female mayor of San Francisco, first female U.S. Senator of California, first woman to sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee and first female Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, among others—but we should remember her more for her accomplishments. Her work to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, pass the Respect for Marriage Act and enact the assault weapons ban, which we must reinstate, made our nation safer and more equal—as well as meaningfully improved the lives of millions of Americans.

“My heart goes out to her loved ones, the people of California and everyone whose life was improved by her work. Rest in peace, Senator Feinstein.”

U.S Sen. Chuck Grassley said Feinstein was his friend and seatmate on the Senate Judiciary Committee for more than 20 years.

“She never backed away from the toughest political battles — she was always dignified and always effective. The Senate and those of us privileged to serve with her have lost a woman whose public service wrote an inspiring chapter in the history of our nation,” Grassley said.

Durbin honors the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein in a speech on the Senate floor