Dianne Feinstein died in the early morning hours on Friday at her Washington D.C. home with her daughter Katherine by her side.
The longtime Democratic senator died of natural causes at around 2 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, her office said.
Just hours before her death, the 90-year-old Feinstein was helped onto the Senate floor for the final public act of her trailblazing career.
The California Democrat, holding onto her aide’s arm, slowly raised her hand to vote ‘aye’ on Thursday morning in a procedural vote for short-term government funding.
Feinstein, wearing a purple pantsuit, walked in without the wheelchair she used in the final months of her 30-year Senate career as her health deteriorated following a bout with shingles.
She raised her hand and voted ‘aye.’ Then she was escorted out again following her last fleeting appearance in the upper chamber.
Feinstein subsequently missed two Senate votes in the afternoon.
But later on Thursday she was photographed at home in Washington D.C. with former California congresswoman Jane Harman.
Harman told MSNBC that she visited Feinstein’s home around 5 p.m. on Thursday and they visited for an hour.
‘Dianne seemed in good health, frail as she has been for a while,’ Harman said.
Feinstein’s death was announced by her office on Friday. Tearful colleagues returned to the Senate floor on Friday morning to pay tribute to the first female mayor of San Francisco and California’s longest-serving senator.
Her daughter Katherine was in the gallery alongside Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, a fellow California lawmaker and friend of the family, as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle remembered the late senator as a political powerhouse who broke through gender barriers.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer led senators in a moment of silence and a vase of white roses sat on Feinstein’s desk, which was draped in a black cloth.
‘There are few women who can be called senator, chairman, mayor, wife, mom and grandmother,’ her chief of staff James Sauls said in a statement. ‘Senator Feinstein was a force of nature who made an incredible impact on our country and her home state.’
The longtime Democratic senator had suffered from health issues in the past year, including a case of shingles that kept her away from the Senate for a month. She also fell at her San Francisco home in August and was briefly hospitalized.
Feinstein stayed in her Senate role despite pressure to resign due to her declining health. She used a wheelchair in the Senate and aides had been seen directing her how to vote.
She was the fifth-oldest person to serve in the Senate and the longest-serving female senator. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California will appoint her replacement.
‘She was 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. And she was a fighter,’ Newsom said in a statement.
President Joe Biden called her ‘a pioneering American. A true trailblazer. And for Jill and me, a cherished friend.’
He ordered all flags on federal buildings to be at half-staff until Feinstein’s burial.
‘There’s no better example of her skillful legislating and sheer force of will than when she turned passion into purpose, and led the fight to ban assault weapons. 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,’ he said in a statement.