WASHINGTON — Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a vocal advocate of gun control measures who was known for trying to find common ground with Republicans during her three decades in the Senate, has died, according to several sources familiar with the matter.
She was 90.
Feinstein, the oldest member of the Senate, the longest-serving female senator and the longest-serving senator from California, announced in February that she planned to retire at the end of her term. She had faced calls for her resignation over concerns about her health.
After she announced her retirement, President Joe Biden hailed his former Senate colleague, calling her “a passionate defender of civil liberties and a strong voice for national security policies that keep us safe while honoring our values.”
“I’ve served with more U.S. Senators than just about anyone,” he said in a statement at the time. “I can honestly say that Dianne Feinstein is one of the very best."
After Feinstein missed votes in late February, her spokesperson said on March 1: “The senator is in California this week dealing with a health matter," and "hopes to return to Washington soon.”
The California Democrat was a vocal advocate of gun control measures, championing the assault weapons ban that then-President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1994, and pushing for restrictive laws since the ban’s expiration in 2004.
As chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Feinstein led a multiyear review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program developed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which led to legislation barring the use of those methods of torture.
A centrist Democrat, she was known for trying to find common ground with Republicans, sometimes drawing criticism from her party’s liberal members. She parted from them on a number of issues, including opposing single-payer, government-run health care and the ambitious Green New Deal climate proposal, which she argued was politically and fiscally unfeasible.