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Espada y Escudo

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Dianne Feinstein Dies at 90 as the Oldest Sitting Senator

WASHINGTON%2C+DC+-+SEPTEMBER+12%3A+Sen.+Dianne+Feinstein+%28D-CA%29+walks+through+the+Senate+Subway+on+her+way+to+a+vote+at+the+U.S.+Capitol+September+12%2C+2022+in+Washington%2C+DC.+As+lawmakers+return+to+Washington+this+week%2C+Congress+has+until+September+30+to+pass+to+a+continuing+resolution+to+fund+the+government+and+avert+a+government+shutdown.++%28Photo+by+Drew+Angerer%2FGetty+Images%29
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WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 12: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) walks through the Senate Subway on her way to a vote at the U.S. Capitol September 12, 2022 in Washington, DC. As lawmakers return to Washington this week, Congress has until September 30 to pass to a continuing resolution to fund the government and avert a government shutdown. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), passed away on September 29, after having served in the United States Senate for nearly three decades. 

Born on June 22, 1933, in San Francisco, California, Feinstein began her political career in the 1960s as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Following the assassinations of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, she was appointed as the first female mayor of San Francisco. In 1992, Feinstein was elected to the United States Senate, where she served for 29 years, establishing herself as one of the longest-serving female senators in U.S. history. She called herself a political centrist and believed in a pragmatic approach to politics, including a readiness to work across party lines to achieve legislative goals. Over the years, she advocated for various issues, including gun control, environmental protection, and healthcare reform.

In her later years, Senator Feinstein faced criticism from within the Democratic Party, with calls for her to step aside and pave the way for younger leadership. Nonetheless, she continued to represent California and remained actively engaged in legislative matters despite her declining health conditions. Feinstein had taken a two-month absence in early 2023 following complications with shingles that spread to her neck and face and caused encephalitis–a swelling of the brain. She had however announced her plan to retire at the end of her term in 2025. 

Following her death, tributes poured in from politicians across the political spectrum, often noting her trailblazing role as one of the leading women in politics. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer remarked that “we lost a giant in the Senate,” while Senator Mitch McConnell remembered her as a “remarkable individual” and an “incredibly effective person.”

Senator Feinstein’s passing left a vacancy in the U.S. Senate, to be filled by California Governor Gavin Newsom’s nominee, Laphonza Butler, a Democratic strategist and adviser to Kamala Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign. Butler will become the first openly LGBT Senator from California and the only Black woman in the current US Senate.

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Alexandra Saffman, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Alexandra (she/her) is a senior and has been part of the Sword and Shield for two years. As one of the Arts and Entertainment editors, she enjoys discovering and reviewing upcoming stories, artists, works, and events. In her free time, she loves to read, watch movies, and hang out with friends.
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