Senator Dianne Feinstein, California’s senior senator, has passed away, confirming reports from ABC7 News in California. Feinstein’s health had been rapidly declining over the past year, marked by her extended absence from the Senate. Initially reported as a recovery from shingles, it was later revealed to be serious neurological complications arising from the illness, which was visibly apparent in her frail public appearances.
Feinstein’s absence had significant consequences for the judicial nomination process, as she sat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. This situation resulted in the nominations process coming to a halt, as nominees couldn’t garner the majority support required for a full Senate vote. Democrats sought to temporarily replace Feinstein on the committee to get the nominations moving again, but they needed Republican support, which they did not receive. Despite calls for her resignation, Feinstein resisted stepping down, and there were reports suggesting her staff was directing her voting decisions.
Even before officially announcing her retirement, potential candidates were positioning themselves to run for her Senate seat. Representatives Katie Porter and Adam Schiff launched campaigns in anticipation of her not seeking reelection.
Feinstein’s legacy in politics, particularly as a trailblazer for women, received praise from prominent Democrats. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described her as an icon for women in politics, and Senator Chuck Schumer acknowledged her as a legend both in California and the Senate.
However, Feinstein’s Senate tenure was marked by controversies. In 2018, it was revealed that her Bay Area office had been infiltrated by a Chinese spy. She also played a significant role in the Democrats’ efforts to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. Her late disclosure of anonymous claims from 35 years ago regarding Kavanaugh’s alleged misconduct created a heated controversy. Christine Blasey Ford eventually came forward as the accuser, but her story had inconsistencies and lacked corroborating details.
Feinstein’s passing is expected to further hinder judicial confirmations, as replacing her on the Senate Judiciary Committee will require Republican support. The outcome remains uncertain as to whether Republicans would agree to such a replacement.