The late Sen. Dianne Feinstein was in politics for decades.
Feinstein chief of staff James Sauls described his former boss as a “force of nature” in a statement announcing her death and acknowledging her “undeniable and extraordinary” legacy.
“There is much to say about who she was and what she did, but for now, we are going to grieve the passing of our beloved boss, mentor and friend,” he said.
Read additional tributes below.
President Joe Biden:
Senator Dianne Feinstein was a pioneering American. A true trailblazer. And for Jill and me, a cherished friend.
In San Francisco, she showed enormous poise and courage in the wake of tragedy, and became a powerful voice for American values. Serving in the Senate together for more than 15 years, I had a front row seat to what Dianne was able to accomplish. It’s why I recruited her to serve on the Judiciary Committee when I was Chairman – I knew what she was made of, and I wanted her on our team. There’s no better example of her skillful legislating and sheer force of will than when she turned passion into purpose, and led the fight to ban assault weapons. 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.
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. 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.
Former House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.):
For decades, Senator Feinstein was a pillar of public service in California: from San Francisco’s City Hall to the United States Capitol. 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.
Dianne was a pioneering woman leader, who served as San Francisco’s first female Mayor with unmatched courage, poise and grace. Standing strong amid horror and heartbreak – from the brutal murders of Harvey Milk and George Moscone to the deadly HIV/AIDs epidemic – she offered our City a beacon of strength and hope.
In the United States Senate, she was a champion for the Golden State: bringing home billions of federal dollars while defending our state’s natural wonders. Blazing trails as the first woman to lead the powerful Intelligence Committee, she bolstered America’s moral standing and national security with her fierce opposition to the use of torture. On the Judiciary Committee, she authored and passed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which helped stem the tide of mass shootings for the ten years it was law and continued urging its renewal as an essential template for ending gun violence. A fierce champion for gender justice, her tireless advocacy was consequential in securing the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
Former President Barack Obama:
Dianne Feinstein will be rightly remembered as a trailblazer – the first woman to serve as mayor of San Francisco and the first woman elected to the Senate from California. But once she broke those barriers and walked through those doors, she got to work.
I first got to know Dianne in the Senate, where she was a fierce advocate for gun safety measures and civil rights. Later, when I was president, I came to rely on her as a trusted partner in the fight to guarantee affordable healthcare and economic opportunity for everyone.
The best politicians get into public service because they care about this country and the people they represent. That was certainly true of Dianne Feinstein, and all of us are better for it.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.):
Yesterday, the senior senator from California came onto the floor through those doors to do her job. She voted. She voted to make sure that our country would continue to move forward and not shut down.
That was Dianne. ... She fought for women. She fought for those who were victims of gun violence. She fought for foreign policy that was remote to most people, but she knew every detail.
And when Dianne spoke, the rest of us stopped, and we listened.
Mr. President, she was a friend. I was sworn into office a few weeks after she was, and she was always there for us — in matters big and small. In matters of our country, in matters of policy, and always — as a friend.
To those of you who don’t know, she was the most generous senator I have ever known. I remember one time when I noticed that her purse was really nice, and I said ‘Dianne, that purse is beautiful.’ Two days later, I got one delivered to my door.
That was Dianne. She saw people. She knew people. She saw that she could be someone that we all needed, and she saw that she could be there when she was needed — and she was there.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D):
Dianne Feinstein was many things — a powerful, trailblazing U.S. Senator; an early voice for gun control; a leader in times of tragedy and chaos. But to me, she was a dear friend, a lifelong mentor, and a role model not only for me, but to my wife and daughters for what a powerful, effective leader looks like. She was a political giant, whose tenacity was matched by her grace. She broke down barriers and glass ceilings, but never lost her belief in the spirit of political cooperation. And she was a fighter — for the city, the state and the country she loved. Every race she won, she made history, but her story wasn’t just about being the first woman in a particular political office, it was what she did for California, and for America, with that power once she earned it. That’s what she should be remembered for.
There is simply nobody who possessed the strength, gravitas, and fierceness of Dianne Feinstein. Jennifer and I are deeply saddened by her passing, and we will mourn with her family in this difficult time.
Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), who is running for Feinstein’s open seat:
As the first woman to represent California in the Senate, Dianne Feinstein paved the way for generations of women to serve—including me. She left her mark in tough fights against gun violence, torture, and homophobia, and that legacy will live on.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who is also running for the Senate seat:
California lost a trailblazer for women and a political giant today. During half a century of public service, Senator Feinstein broke glass ceilings for women and fought fearlessly for a safer, stronger, more just nation. My deepest condolences go out to her family and loved ones.
Senator Feinstein was a friend and mentor. She was a fearless trailblazer with an iron backbone who led the charge on gun control and never stood down from her demands of transparency and accountability in American government. Her colleagues in Congress knew her as a fighter who led with strength, grace, and grit, but also a gentle presence in the chamber. She was a legislative powerhouse in the Senate, championing major victories for our democracy, national security, gun reform, women’s and LGBTQ+ rights, and our environment. But she was also an artist, a loving wife and mother, and a cherished friend. Her legacy and impact have forever shaped our nation.
This is a monumental day of loss. May she rest in peace.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), another candidate for the Senate seat:
Today, the nation has truly lost a giant of the U.S. Senate, California has lost its trail-blazing leader, and I lost a real friend and mentor.
Senator Dianne Feinstein was one of the finest legislators we have ever seen, and her accomplishments made our country and world a better place. The Senator’s legacy is unmatched.
Senator Feinstein single-handedly pushed an assault weapons ban over the finish line, and never gave up her fight to end gun violence. She fought powerful agencies to investigate and uncover torture – and made sure it would never happen again.
She helped protect California’s natural beauty and preserve its lands for generations. And she always fought for LGBTQ rights and women’s equality throughout her career.
My thoughts are with Senator Feinstein’s friends, family, and staff at this time, and my heart goes out to them.
California and all its citizens are truly indebted to the Senator and her family for her decades of service. We are all better off for her dogged pursuit of policies that made our country a better union.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.):
Earlier this morning, we lost a giant in the Senate.
Senator Dianne Feinstein was one of the most amazing people who ever graced the Senate, who ever graced the country.
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. Her integrity was a diamond. Her integrity shone like a beacon across the Senate and across the country for all to see and hopefully emulate. ...
Our nation will be forever thankful to Senator Feinstein for the accomplishments she fought for.
I, too, am personally indebted to Dianne, not just as a colleague which of course I am in so many ways as a colleague, but as a friend, and as a father of two daughters.
Dianne’s work extended far beyond the United States Senate floor, as she gave a voice, a platform for women throughout the country for decades. Dianne didn’t just push down doors that were closed for women, she held open them for generations of women after her to follow.
She gave a voice, a platform, a model for women across the country who aspire to roles in leadership, in public service, who want to leave their own mark on the world and who want to make this country a better place for others.
Today, there are 24 women serving in this chamber, and every one of them would admit they stand on Dianne’s shoulders. Dianne’s impact extended far beyond the Senate floor, and far beyond politics itself.
So today, we grieve. We look at that desk and we know what we have lost.
But we also give thanks. Thanks that someone so rarefied, so brave, so graceful served in this chamber for so many years.
In closing, let me just say this:
The sign of a leader is someone who dedicates the whole of their spirit for a cause greater than themselves.
The sign of a hero is someone who fights for others, who endures for others, no matter the cost, no matter the odds.
And the sign of a friend is someone who stands by your side, to fight the good fight, on the good days and on the bad.
Dianne Feinstein was all of this and more: a friend, a hero for so many, a leader who changed the nature of the Senate, and who changed the fabric of the nation, America for the better.
As the nation mourns this tremendous loss we are comforted in knowing how many mountains Dianne moved, how many lives she impacted, how many glass ceilings she shattered along the way.
America ― America ― is a better place because of Senator Dianne Feinstein.