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Profile of Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California


Profile of Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California

US Senator Dianne Feinstein

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein was first elected as senator in 1992 to fill a 2-year vacancy. She was reelected in 1994, 2000, 2006, and 2012 to the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Feinstein is widely respected as an astute liberal voice of authority and reasoned moderation. She is diligent, collegial yet authoritative, and an independent, centrist thinker. On the 112th and 113th Congress, Feinstein served and will chair the powerful Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.


On June 4, 2008, Sen. Feinstein famously enabled a private meeting in her D.C. home between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

In 2006, the senator publicly lamented "It’s time for a sensible embryonic stem cell policy that promotes research... so that we can find treatments and cures for kids with juvenile diabetes, for grandmothers with Alzheimer’s and for people living with Parkinson’s, cancer and spinal cord injuries."

Legislative Agenda:

Feinstein is an effective and prolific legislator. Vital legislation by Senator Feinstein includes the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, which prohibited the manufacture and sale of 19 types of assault firearms, and the California Desert Protection Act, which protects more than 3 million acres of desert and nature reserves, the largest such designation in the continential US.

Major Areas of Interest:

Senator Feinstein has particular passion for conserving the environment (Lake Tahoe, San Francisco Bay wetlands, Redwood National Park), weapons control, immigration, stem cell research, energy issues (global warming, hybrid vehicles) and homeland security. She introduced a bipartisan bill in April 2005 to ban human cloning but to greenlight federal embryonic stem cell research.

Senate Committees in 112th Congress, 2011-2012:

  • Select Committee on Intelligence, Chair
  • Judiciary Committee
  • Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security & Citizenship
  • Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs
  • Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology & Homeland Security
  • Appropriations Committee
  • Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense
  • Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior
  • Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water Development
  • Rules & Administration Committee
  • Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control

Prior Experience:

After Stanford, the Senator interned at the Coro Foundation, which provided young graduates with political experience. From 1960-1966, she worked on the California Women's Board of Parole. She chaired a San Francisco commission from 1966-68, and was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1969. She ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1971 and 1975. Dianne Feinstein became mayor of San Francisco when the Mayor Moscone was assassinated in 1978. She served the maximum 2 terms as mayor.

Personal Data:

  • Birth - June 22, 1933 in San Francisco, California
  • Education - Was the only Jewish student at an elite Roman Catholic high school. Earned a BA in history from Stanford University.
  • Family - Married, 1 daughter
  • Faith - Jewish
Senator Feinstein has married 3 times. A youthful marriage ended in divorce after 3 years. Her second husband, a neurosurgeon, died of colon cancer after 16 years of marriage. She has been remarried for 25 years.

While at Stanford, she modeled clothes on television.

Interesting Personal Note:

Senator Feinstein is a staunch gun control advocate. Despite her stance, in the 1970s, she obtained a concealed firearms carry permit, and carried a handgun with her. A CCW permit was then rare in California, and was the only such permit in San Francisco. At the time, she was the target of a terrorist group that had shot out all the windows in her home. She no longer carries a gun.

Assassination of Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk:

Dianne Feinstein ascended to be mayor of San Francisco when Supervisor Dan White assassinated Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in their offices on November 27, 1978. Milk was the first openly gay person to serve on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. On that very morning, she had planned to announce her retirement from politics. Instead, she became acting mayor and announced to the world that Mayor Moscone was dead.

Memorable Quotes:

"For the life of me, I don't understand what honest motive there is in putting this in front of this body to philosophically debate marriage on a constitutional amendment that is not going to happen, and which is enormously divisive in all of our communities."

"Our redwood trees are treasures that need to be protected and preserved. By adding more than 25,000 acres to Redwood National Park, this legislation would help conserve the redwood forest, provide watershed protection, and protect wildlife habitats."

"The latest test failure of the missile defense system...demonstrated once again that we are rushing to deploy a system that is unproven, too costly, and inadequate for our national security needs in the post-September 11th world."

"Winning may not be everything, but losing has little to recommend it."

"Stem cell research is the bright new frontier of medicine. It offers enormous promise to provide a methodology to conquer devastating and catastrophic diease such as diabetes, spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer's and cancer. But federal inaction has created a void---and this void has been only partially filled by States and by private entities."

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