Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chamber’s oldest member and the longest-serving female senator in U.S. history, has died at age 90.
Her chief of staff, James Sauls, confirmed that she died Thursday night at her home in Washington, but did not specify a cause of death.
“There are few women who can be called senator, chairman, mayor, wife, mom and grandmother,” Sauls wrote in a statement. “Senator Feinstein was a force of nature who made an incredible impact on our country and her home state.”
In recent years, concerns were raised over Feinstein’s age and capabilities. After years of resisting calls from many colleagues to retire, Feinstein announced in February that she would not seek re-election in 2024, weeks after others announced their candidacy for her seat.
Earlier this month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom told NBC News that he planned to make an “interim appointment” to Feinstein’s seat if it became vacant before the end of her term. The appointee would not be able to run for the seat in 2024. Newsom has repeatedly pledged to appoint a black woman to the seat, a promise he made after appointing Alex Padilla, California’s first Latino senator, to replace Vice President Kamala Harris.
Feinstein began her political career in 1970 after her accession to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, and was later elected as mayor of the city where she survived a failed recall attempt in 1983.
After losing her 1990 campaign for California governor, Feinstein won a 1992 Senate special election, becoming the first female Senator from California. She went on to win another five reelection votes during her more than 30-year tenure.
She is perhaps best known for authoring the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons ban signed by former President Bill Clinton, which put a 10-year restriction on civilians purchasing semi-automatic rifles. She later introduced a new assault weapons ban bill in 2013, which failed to pass.
Until 2018, Feinstein was also known for her opposition to numerous reforms on marijuana laws, citing her belief that marijuana is a gateway drug.
Feinstein is the first woman to have chaired both the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee, overseeing the latter’s report on CIA torture during the “War on Terror.”