(NEXSTAR/AP) – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a trailblazing politician and longtime champion of liberal causes, died Thursday night at her home in Washington, D.C., her office confirmed Friday. She was 90.
The California senator had been in failing health, though she had long dismissed any suggestions that she retire, instead revealing earlier this year that she would not seek another term.
Earlier on Thursday, Feinstein made what would ultimately be her final vote on the Senate floor, raising her right hand and voting to further an initiative toward short-term government funding amid a looming shutdown.
She died that evening, her office confirmed.
“Sadly, Senator Feinstein passed away last night at her home in Washington, D.C.,” James Sauls, her chief of staff, said in a statement shared Friday, in part. “Her passing is a great loss for so many, from those who loved and cared for her to the people of California that she dedicated her life to serving.”
President Joe Biden, who served with Feinstein for years in the Senate, called her “a pioneering American,” a “true trailblazer” and a “cherished friend.”
“Dianne made her mark on everything from national security to the environment to protecting civil liberties,” the president said. “Our country will benefit from her legacy for generations.”
Feinstein, the oldest sitting U.S. senator, was a passionate advocate for liberal priorities important to her state — including environmental protection, reproductive rights and gun control — but was also known as a pragmatic lawmaker who reached out to Republicans and sought middle ground.
Her death came after a bout of shingles sidelined her for more than two months earlier this year — an absence that drew frustration from her most liberal critics and launched an unsuccessful attempt by Democrats to temporarily replace her on the Senate Judiciary Committee. When she returned to the Senate in May, she was frail and using a wheelchair, voting only occasionally.
On Friday morning, her Senate desk was draped in black and topped with a vase of white roses.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom will appoint a temporary replacement, and there is sure to be a spirited battle to succeed her.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.