As California’s senior Senator, Dianne Feinstein has built a reputation as an independent voice, working hard to find commonsense solutions to problems facing California and the nation.
Since her election to the Senate in 1992, Senator Feinstein has built a significant record of legislative achievements across a wide range of issues.
Senator Feinstein led a bipartisan group of senators in passing legislation to drastically increase the fuel efficiency of cars. She was a leading voice in the effort to legalize gay marriage and ensure rights for LGBT Americans. She’s a champion for the preservation of the Mojave Desert, Lake Tahoe and California’s forests. She helped create the nationwide AMBER Alert network, passed bills to criminalize border drug tunnels and has long focused on improving California’s water infrastructure and reducing the threat of wildfires. She also continues to advocate for commonsense gun laws.
Among her most notable achievements are the enactment of the federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1994, a law that prohibited the sale, manufacture and import of military-style assault weapons that expired in 2014 and the six-year review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program that culminated in the 2014 release of the report’s executive summary and passage of legislation ensuring that post-9/11 interrogation methods are never used again.
Senator Feinstein authored the first major cybersecurity bill to be signed into law in years. She’s an aggressive opponent of sex trafficking and authored legislation to help prevent sex abuse of amateur athletes. She’s an advocate for consumers, authoring bills to review chemicals in personal care products, ban chemicals in toys, crack down on rogue pharmacies and strengthen food safety.
In 2017, the senator became the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee – the first woman to assume that role – where she helped shape policy on criminal law, national security, immigration, civil rights and the courts. She stepped down from that position in January 2021.
Senator Feinstein was the first woman to chair the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, a position she held for six years beginning in 2009. During her tenure as chairman, Senator Feinstein oversaw the passage of six intelligence authorization bills – after five years without a single bill – and the release of a key bipartisan report on the Benghazi attacks. She remains a senior member of the committee.
Senator Feinstein is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee where she serves as ranking member on the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. She has secured billions of dollars for California communities, including critical transportation, water supply and federal building projects. She has worked with members of both parties to secure and safeguard spent nuclear waste and has used her seniority to oppose the development of new nuclear weapons and hold down the rapidly increasing costs of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Her fourth committee assignment is on the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, which she chaired during the 110th Congress. In that capacity, Senator Feinstein was the first woman to chair the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and presided over the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009.
In addition to her committee assignments, Senator Feinstein is co-chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, co-chairman of the National Security Working Group, co-chairman of the Senate Cancer Coalition and co-chairman of the Senate Women’s Caucus on Burma. She is also a member of the Anti-Meth Caucus, the Congressional Dairy Caucus and the Congressional Former Mayors Caucus. She has served as a member of the Aspen Strategy Group since 1997.
Among Senator Feinstein’s many legislative accomplishments:
Environment and natural resources
- Fuel Economy Standards - Increasing fleetwide fuel economy standards for cars, trucks and SUVs by at least 10 miles per gallon over 10 years or from 25 mpg to 35 mpg by Model Year 2020 – the largest increase in more than two decades, and the first Congressional action on global warming. Her bipartisan legislation ultimately led the Obama administration to put in place a mandate for a fleetwide 54.5 miles-per-gallon requirement by model year 2020.
- California Desert Protection - Protecting more than 7 million acres of pristine California desert, the largest such designation in the history of the continental United States. She was also a vocal champion for the creation of three new national monuments, safeguarding millions of additional acres.
- Lake Tahoe Restoration - Passed two bills to preserve and restore this treasured natural resource, a total of $715 million in federal funds to match investments by California, Nevada and local authorities.
- CALFED - Authorizing $395 million for a balanced program to increase California’s water supply, reliability and quality and help restore sensitive water ecosystems.
- Healthy Forests - Reducing the risk of catastrophic fire in our forests by expediting the thinning of hazardous fuels and providing the first legal protection for old-growth forests in our nation’s history.
- Headwaters Forest Agreement - Obtaining funding and brokering agreement to save the “Headwaters Forest,” a 7,500-acre national treasure and the largest privately held stand of uncut old-growth redwoods.
- San Francisco Bay Wetlands Restoration - Negotiating public-private purchase of 16,500 acres of salt ponds along the San Francisco Bay - the largest such wetlands restoration project in California history.
- Revitalizing the Senate Intelligence Committee - After becoming chairman of the committee in 2009, Senator Feinstein oversaw the enactment of six consecutive intelligence authorization bills following a five-year drought. The committee also released a bipartisan review of the Benghazi attacks.
- Reviewing CIA Use of Torture - Senator Feinstein oversaw a six-year review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, culminating in the December 2014 release of the report’s executive summary.
- FISA as the exclusive means for domestic electronic surveillance - Requiring the federal government to follow the requirements of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) when conducting electronic surveillance of American citizens for foreign intelligence purposes.
- Border Security and Visa Entry Reform - Helping prevent terrorists from entering the United States through loopholes in our immigration system.
- Criminalization of Border Tunnels - Closed a loophole in federal law by criminalizing the act of constructing or financing a tunnel or subterranean passage across an international border into the United States.
- Protecting America’s Seaports - Securing our nation’s 361 seaports from terrorism and organized crime through the creation of new criminal offenses.
Crime and justice
- Assault Weapons Ban - Prohibiting the manufacture and sale of 19 types of military-style assault weapons from 1994-2004.
- Crime Victims’ Rights - Giving victims of violent crime a core set of procedural rights under federal law and ensuring that they have standing to assert their rights before a court.
- Combat Meth Act - Giving law enforcement the tools needed to combat the spread of methamphetamine by restricting the sale of products necessary to cook methamphetamine and authorizing $585 million for enforcement, training, and research into meth treatment.
- National AMBER Alert Network - Creating nationwide AMBER Alert communications network to help law enforcement find abducted children.
- Phthalate Ban - Protecting children from harmful phthalates chemicals in toys using the precautionary principle.
- Internet Pharmacies - Banning rogue Internet pharmacies from selling drugs without prescriptions.
- Breast Cancer Research Stamp - Raising more than $81 million for breast cancer research.
Senator Feinstein’s career has been one of firsts. She was the first woman president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the first woman mayor of San Francisco, the first woman elected Senator of California, the first woman member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the first woman to chair the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, the first woman to chair the Senate Intelligence Committee and the first woman to serve as ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
A native of San Francisco, Senator Feinstein served for nine years as a San Francisco County Supervisor, starting in 1969. She became mayor of San Francisco in 1978 following the assassination of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.
The following year she was elected to the first of two four-year terms. As mayor, Dianne Feinstein managed the city’s finances with a firm hand, balancing nine budgets in a row. In 1987, City and State Magazine named her the nation’s “Most Effective Mayor.”
As a senator, Dianne Feinstein has received a number of awards for her service including the 2017 Legislative Leadership Award from the Association of California Water Agencies, the 2016 Ansel Adams Award from The Wilderness Society, the 2014 Beacon Prize from Human Rights First, the 2012 Outstanding International Public Service Award from the World Affairs Council, the 2007 Legislator of the Year award from the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, the 2007 Charles Dick Medal of Merit from the California National Guard, the 2006 Grammy on the Hill Award from the Recording Academy, the 2006 Congressional Leader of the Year Award from the League of California Cities, the 2006 William Penn Mott Jr. Park Leadership Award from National Parks Conservation Association, the 2005 Outstanding Member of the U.S. Senate Award from the National Narcotic Officers Associations Coalition, the 2004 Funding Hero Award from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the 2004 Women of Achievement Award from the Century City Chamber of Commerce and the 2001 Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service.