Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on the life and legacy of Senator Dianne Feinstein. Senator Feinstein was the longest-serving female U.S. Senator in history, representing California from 1992 to 2023:
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.
Dianne Feinstein would typically say, when you asked her how she was voting on something, “let me study this issue” before taking a position.
“Let me go home and read on it” and when she came back, if she believed the cause or the vote was right — and vital to many issues she cared about — she not only voted for it, there was no stopping her from getting it done.
She would take on any force, any special interest, any opponent with relentless integrity and would wear those opponents down until she succeeded. Again, her integrity just shone through them and she won, and she won, and she won, and each time she made the country a better place.
I saw this up close when she passed the assault weapons ban, a passion of hers after what had happened to her in California.
The NRA was a relentless, often mean-spirited, and chauvinistic foe. They oozed vitriol against her.
But they didn’t scare her, they didn’t stop her, and they failed against her. Like most of her opponents, they failed against her. Her perseverance, her strength, and most of all her integrity shone through.
I was privileged to carry the bill in the House after she had passed it in the Senate. She guided me every step of the way. And her strength and her integrity strengthened all of us who were fighting that uphill fight. And as we went through that bill it became clear to me: Dianne Feinstein is not like the others. She is in a class of her own.
Of course, it wasn’t just the assault weapons ban she fought for.
Her accomplishments also included championing the Violence Against Women Act, protecting oversight authority during the investigation into U.S. torture, fighting for climate justice, fighting for marriage equality, fighting for reproductive justice. The list goes on and on.
As the Chair of the Intelligence Committee, Dianne fought for what was right even if it was hard and difficult and took months and years to dig in find out what actually went wrong. She never stopped. She took on the CIA and asserted Congress’s oversight authority during the investigation into the United States’ use of torture.
And through all her accomplishments, this one and all the others, she always displayed the quintessential grace and strength. None of these sons of guns against her ever rattled her.
I remember a few years back when a particularly nasty senator tried to put Senator Feinstein down in a condescending—many would say chauvinistic—way.
She reacted not defensively, but with strength and poise and integrity and within three minutes she put this colleague in his place, and by the end of it everyone in the room, on both sides of the aisle, was smiling.
That was Dianne. Powerful. Prepared. Unflappable. She had to be: whenever she did something, she was often the “first” to do it.
She was elected as the first woman president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the first woman to serve as mayor of San Francisco, the first woman to serve as U.S. Senator for California, the first woman to chair both the Senate Rules and Intelligence Committees, the first woman member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the list goes on and on and on.
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.
Today, I join with my colleagues in mourning our beloved friend and colleague.