Feinstein Power Mourners & Newsom’s Pick

Newsom is expected to name Feinstein’s replacement in the coming days, but her passing has already set into motion a chain reaction in the Senate.
Newsom is expected to name Feinstein’s replacement in the coming days, but her passing has already set into motion a chain reaction in the Senate. Photo: Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images
Abby Livingston
September 29, 2023

The death of Dianne Feinstein on Friday, at 90 years old, was not a surprise in her native San Francisco, where she was the first female mayor, nor in Washington, where she served for more than three decades in the Senate, an extraordinary political career spanning titanic battles over the AIDS epidemic, gun control, and the war on terror. A Senate Democratic source described the news as a “gut punch.” Nevertheless, the somber observation of her passing was followed by a sense of uncertainty on Capitol Hill, where Democrats are eager for California Governor Gavin Newsom to quickly appoint her successor. 

Congress, after all, was in chaos Thursday night as House Republicans once again failed to pass legislation to keep the government open. The Senate has put forward its own spending legislation, led by Chuck Schumer, who now holds onto the majority by just a single vote. Newsom is expected to name Feinstein’s replacement in the coming days, but her passing also sets into motion a chain reaction in the Senate, where Feinstein, the chamber’s oldest leader, served on the three critical committees: Intel, Appropriations, and most notably, Judiciary. With Feinstein’s passing, the Judiciary Committee is deadlocked. Republican John Cornyn indicated Friday that Republicans were not looking to hinder Democrats in replacing her, but many are on edge.