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Senator Dianne Feinstein has announced her retirement from Congress.


Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., announced her retirement from Congress at the end of 2024, after three decades in the Senate and more than 50 years in public service.

“I am announcing today that I will not run for reelection in 2024, but instead intend to accomplish as much for California as I can before my term expires at the end of next year,” Feinstein said in a statement.

Feinstein, 89, is the Senate’s oldest sitting senator and the state’s longest-serving senator, having been elected in 1992. For years, she had been pressed by other Democrats in the state to make room for a younger generation of lawmakers. She had also declined the position of president pro tempore in the new Congress, which has traditionally been held by the senior member of the majority party since the mid-twentieth century.

Her retirement frees up her California Senate seat for the first time in decades. Several House Democrats, including Reps. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff, have announced 2024 campaign bids for the seat. Rep. Barbara Lee plans to announce her Senate candidature by the end of the month, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Feinstein has worked in five presidential administrations and with two presidents who were also senators with her: Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

In a statement released Tuesday, Biden praised Feinstein as “a passionate defender of civil liberties and a strong voice for national security policies that keep us safe while honouring our values.”

“I’ve served with more United States Senators than almost anyone,” he said. “I can honestly say Dianne Feinstein is one of the best. I hope to continue working with her as she completes her term.”

Feinstein stated in her statement that she intends to use her remaining time in the Senate to pass legislation to combat gun violence, promote economic growth, and protect public lands. Because of their previous work, Feinstein believes Democrats can achieve those objectives.

“Even with a divided Congress, we can pass bills that improve people’s lives,” she said. “We were all sent here to solve problems. That’s what I’ve done for the past 30 years and what I intend to do for the next two.”

Senator Chuck Schumer, D-New York, praised Feinstein in a statement, saying she “broke innumerable glass ceilings.”

“When Dianne came to the Senate, there were only two female senators; today, there are 25, all of whom stand on Dianne’s shoulders in some small way,” he said. “I know Dianne will continue to fiercely advocate for women’s rights in all aspects of life and unwaveringly represent the people of California in the coming months.”

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., now a rank-and-file member in the lower chamber, referred to Feinstein as a “titan in the United States Senate, with a record that ranks among the finest in history.”

“For the past thirty years, Senator Feinstein’s leadership has magnificently served California and our Country: from our national security and personal safety, to the health of our people and our planet, to the strength of our democracy,” Pelosi said in a statement. Feinstein “has not only accomplished a great deal, but is determined to do even more in the final two years of her term,” she added.

Feinstein responded in April to a news report citing multiple anonymous colleagues who expressed concern that she was mentally unfit to serve. Even as recently as December, she maintained publicly that she had no plans to retire.

Feinstein’s retirement concludes a career spent advocating for stricter gun laws, including championing the assault weapons ban signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994 and pushing for similar legislation since the ban expired in 2004.

During President Donald Trump’s four years in the White House, Feinstein was the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and she led the Democrats’ attack on three Supreme Court justice nominees: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.

Feinstein has also long been a staunch supporter of gay rights and same-sex marriage. In 1996, she was one of only 14 senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, and she applauded the Supreme Court’s decision to legalise gay marriage.

During Obama’s presidency, she chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee and oversaw a six-year review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme, which resulted in legislation prohibiting the use of such torture methods.

Feinstein has a reputation for seeking common ground with Republicans, which has earned her criticism from her party’s more progressive members. She disagreed with them on several issues, including her opposition to single-payer, government-run health care and the Green New Deal climate proposal, which she argued was politically and fiscally unfeasible.

She has faced criticism for some of her stances. She voted for the resolution authorising the Iraq War, for example, but later expressed regret.

She was the first female mayor of San Francisco and a member and president of the city’s Board of Supervisors before being elected to the Senate in 1992. She was elected mayor following the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and city Supervisor Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay elected official. After Milk was shot, Feinstein was the first person to find his body.

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