The Senate will adjourn earlier than planned this week, with no session on Thursday, to allow members to travel to California and pay their respects to the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
The Democrat herself made one last flight home to San Francisco this weekend, with her friend, neighbor and fellow trailblazing woman Nancy Pelosi at her side.
Feinstein died last week in her Washington, D.C., home at the age of 90, just hours after casting her final vote in a career that saw more than 9,500 of them. Briefly eulogizing her on the House floor Friday, an emotional Pelosi said, “she left on her terms.”
Pelosi accompanied Feinstein’s body back to California on Saturday, flying on a military plane from the president’s fleet shortly after voting on a last-minute deal to keep the federal government open.
Feinstein was California’s first and longest-serving woman senator, and after three decades on the Hill, it would not have been strange to see her honored there, as some other prominent lawmakers have been in recent years. The late former Sens. Bob Dole and Harry Reid both lay in state at the Capitol, as did Rep. Don Young, who died in office last year.
Instead, Feinstein will lie in state at San Francisco City Hall on Wednesday, reflecting her deep connection to the city. That will be followed by a funeral service on Thursday, and the late senator will be buried at a family-only ceremony thereafter.
Among the mourners traveling to the funeral service will be California’s other senator, Alex Padilla, his office confirmed, and his predecessor, Vice President Kamala Harris. It’s not yet clear how many other senators will make the trip. On the other side of the Capitol, the House is gearing up for a potentially chaotic week as Rep. Matt Gaetz threatens to try to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and absences there could be another variable in the equation.
Feinstein first won office in 1969, taking a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. She became the board’s first female president in 1978. She first gained national prominence announcing the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. She assumed the mayorship, becoming the first woman in that role, and then won election.
The violence that propelled her political career forward inspired her ceaseless efforts to curb gun violence, which culminated with passage of the semi-automatic weapons ban in 1994. Democrats’ efforts to revive the law, which expired in 2004, have fallen short, even as mass shootings have become horrifically common.
On Sunday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Laphonza Butler to fill the remainder of Feinstein’s term. Butler recently led the abortion rights campaign group EMILY’s List and before that spent 20 years as president of SEIU Local 2015, a home care workers union in California.
Butler will serve until a replacement is elected in a still-unscheduled special election. Three House Democrats — Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam B. Schiff — are running in the March primary for the full, six-year term, and can also run in the special election.
Butler is scheduled to be sworn in by Harris on Tuesday. She will become the first openly gay Black woman to serve in the Senate.