Political leaders across the country — and across parties — praised California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the longest serving woman in the Senate, who died Thursday night at her home in Washington at the age of 90.
President Joe Biden said in a joint statement with first lady Jill Biden that Feinstein was a pioneering American, “a true trailblazer. And for Jill and me, a cherished friend.”
“In San Francisco, she showed enormous poise and courage in the wake of tragedy, and became a powerful voice for American values,” Biden said. “Serving in the Senate together for more than 15 years, I had a front row seat to what Dianne was able to accomplish.”
“Dianne made her mark on everything from national security to the environment to protecting civil liberties. She’s made history in so many ways, and our country will benefit from her legacy for generations.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, praised Feinstein, calling her “incredibly effective” in remarks on the Senate floor.
“She was an incredibly effective person at every line, at every level, and she was at all of those levels all the way to the Senate,” McConnell said. “Dianne was a trailblazer, and her beloved home state of California, and our entire nation are better for her dogged advocacy and diligent service.”
Feinstein was the senior senator from California and the first of two women eventually elected to the Senate from California.
She was thrust into the political limelight in 1978, becoming San Francisco’s mayor upon the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Feinstein was president of the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors when Moscone and Milk were gunned down by a former supervisor, Dan White.
After hearing the gunshots, she rushed to Milk’s office. While searching for his pulse, her finger found a bullet hole.
“Dianne Feinstein, right from the start, was an icon for women in politics,” former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told ABC News.
“Her indomitable, indefatigable leadership made a magnificent difference for our national security and personal safety, the health of our people and our planet, and the strength of our Democracy,” Pelosi said.
Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina and candidate for President, said he was “saddened to learn of Senator Feinstein’s passing. A true trailblazer, she leaves behind a lasting legacy of service in the Senate. My prayers are with her family during this time of loss.”
Former President Barack Obama issued a statement also calling Feinstein a “trailblazer” for breaking glass ceilings for women at various levels of politics.
“But once she broke those barriers and walked through those doors, she got to work,” Obama said. “I first got to know Dianne in the Senate, where she was a fierce advocate for gun safety measures and civil rights. Later, when I was president, I came to rely on her as a trusted partner in the fight to guarantee affordable healthcare and economic opportunity for everyone.
“The best politicians get into public service because they care about this country and the people they represent. That was certainly true of Dianne Feinstein, and all of us are better for it. Today Michelle and I are thinking of her daughter, Katherine, and everyone who knew and loved her.”
In San Diego, Mayor Todd Gloria spoke of Feinstein’s support for California’s cities.
“As a former mayor, Senator Feinstein was always a champion for cities in the Senate. San Diego was fortunate to have her as our representative in Washington, and our city is a better place because of her,” Gloria said.
“Today, San Diego joins the nation in mourning Senator Feinstein’s passing, but we are filled with immense gratitude for her service and all she has done for our city, state, and nation. Godspeed, Senator.”
Reuters and City News Service contributed to this article.