Washington, Sep 29 (IANS): California's longest serving Senator Dianne Feinstein died at the age of 90. She passed away at her home in Washington DC on Thursday night, the media reported on Friday.
Feinstein's death leaves a void in her powerful Senate seat, and Governor (D) Gavin Newsom has to appoint a temporary successor.
The Democratic senator had a distinguished career of decades during which she campaigned for major legislators such as gun control and climate change and its effect on the environment.
President Joe Biden, who served with Feinstein for decades in the Senate, said in a statement: "She had an immense impact on younger female leaders for whom she generously opened doors."
"Dianne was tough, sharp, always prepared, and never pulled a punch, but she was also a kind and loyal friend, and that's what Jill and I will miss the most," Biden said.
Feinstein, a Democrat, was the oldest member of the Senate, where she served since 1992.
She held her seat in the chamber longer than any other woman, and any senator from California. She passed away Thursday night at her home in Washington DC.
"There are few women who can be called senator, chairman, mayor, wife, mom and grandmother. Senator Feinstein was a force of nature who made an incredible impact on our country and her home state," her chief of staff James Sauls said in a statement.
Feinstein's death ends an illustrious political career spanning more than half a century, and was marked with major legislative achievements on issues including gun control and the environment.
But in her final years, she encountered visible health and memory issues, and this led to a conflict with fellow Democrats as she refused to step down. She planned to retire at the end of her current term in January 2025, CNBC reported.
Feinstein's death leaves it to Gov. Gavin Newsom to appoint a temporary successor. Three leading Democrats are seeking the seat, Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff, media reports said.
Newsom in a statement called Feinstein "a political giant, whose tenacity was matched by her grace".
"She broke down barriers and glass ceilings, but never lost her belief in the spirit of political cooperation," he said.
"There is simply nobody who possesses the poise, gravitas, and fierceness of Dianne Feinstein."
"Jennifer and I are deeply saddened by her passing, and we will mourn with her family in this difficult time," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, said on the chamber floor,: "We lost a giant in the Senate."
"Today, there are 25 women serving in this chamber, and every one of them will admit, they stand on Dianne's shoulders," he said.