September 29, 2023

Whitehouse Mourns Passing of Senator Dianne Feinstein

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today mourned the passing of his colleague, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).  Whitehouse joined colleagues on the floor of the Senate to deliver the following remarks:

“Mr. President, I served beside Senator Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee my entire time here.  And I worked closely with her on the Intelligence Committee during the time we overlapped there.  And I’m honored to join my colleagues in participating in this remembrance to her.  It’s been said, I think over and over again, of her elegance, as Senator Collins said, of how put together she was, as Senator Murkowski said, of how gracious she was, as pretty much everyone has said, and her preparedness was another standout virtue in this body.  I have heard her say I am going home to read tonight. And serving with her on those committees, I saw over and over again the amount of work that she put herself and her staff through to make sure that she was well prepared.  I never saw a member of this body better prepared than Senator Feinstein.

“But the characteristic that I most associate with her is bravery.  Whether it was the bravery of throwing herself into California politics as a young woman, at a time when not many women were doing that, or the way she bravely handled the murders at City Hall and her response to that, or whether she was willing to come here when women were few and break glass ceiling, after glass ceiling, after glass ceiling.

“But the place where I saw her bravery most was when we worked together on the Senate Intelligence Committee torture report.  I was kind of Robin to her Batman in that effort.  And I still remember her, right about where Senator Murray now is, delivering her legendary speech that blew the cover off the CIA torture program.  To get there, she had to get through massive counterattacks from the CIA on her, and on our Intelligence Committee staff.  She had to oppose the Bush Administration that was pushing back against her from the very highest levels.  And when the administration changed, she had to show the same bravery and the same resistance against pretty much equal pressure from the Obama Administration to shut up and go away.  Well, ‘shut up and go away’ were not things that Senator Feinstein was willing to hear. And the moment that she spent on the Senate floor delivering that report was one of the moments that I’m proudest of in the time that I’ve been here in the Senate.

“Let me close by talking about her last weeks here, because I think you have to see those last weeks here in the context of her preparation.  Her determined effort to be as perfect as she could be, and her bravery.  Because it was not easy for her to come and do the work that she did in those last weeks.  But she knew that we needed her.  She knew that despite how difficult it was, despite the difficulty she would have in meeting her own standards of perfection – it would have been easy just to go – but she knew that we needed her.  We would have lost our majority in the Judiciary Committee without her, and I view her last months and weeks in this body, as the last episode of her long career of bravery.  I yield the floor.”

Video of Whitehouse’s remarks is available here.

Whitehouse served on the Senate Intelligence Committee from 2007 until 2011 and was deeply involved in compiling the report on the CIA’s use of torture under President George W. Bush. 

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921

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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921