President Joe Biden often speaks nostalgically about his time in the Senate, describing those years as having been marked by a kind of decorum and civility missing in politics today. The late Sen. Dianne Feinstein was a stalwart of his tenure on Capitol Hill, and the two shared a bond on policy and politics.
After Feinstein announced earlier this year that she would retire from the Senate at the end of her term, Biden paid tribute by saying Feinstein was “often the only woman in the room” throughout her political career.
“Over the three decades I’ve known her, Dianne and her late husband Richard became dear friends to Jill and me,” Biden said in a statement at the time. “I’ve served with more U.S. Senators than just about anyone. I can honestly say that Dianne Feinstein is one of the very best.”
Biden and Feinstein served as colleagues in the Senate for 15 years, from when she was elected in 1992 to Biden’s election as vice president in 2008. She became the first woman to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1993, when Biden was serving as the panel’s chairman, and has credited him with assigning her to the post.
She, along with Biden, championed an assault weapon ban in 1994 as part of a larger crime bill under then-President Bill Clinton. Now expired, the assault weapon ban remains a priority of Biden’s as he works to advance new gun controls.
When calling on lawmakers to get to work on passing gun control measures, Biden in recent months pointed to his work as a senator with Feinstein on passing the assault weapons ban.
Feinstein served as chair of the inaugural committee in 2009, placing her next to Biden for much of the day’s activities as he was sworn in as vice president.
Later, when Biden was considering his own run for president, Feinstein voiced early support for his presidential bid after a private meeting.
“He made me the first woman on the Judiciary Committee 26 years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it,” Feinstein said in the Capitol, referring to the former Delaware senator’s tenure atop the panel. “I’ve known him, I’ve worked with him and it’s just a logical step for me.”
Later, she held a fundraiser for Biden along with her husband Richard Blum in San Francisco, and there was later speculation Biden would name Blum to an ambassadorship in Europe (he did not).
At one point, Feinstein even dismissed the candidacy of his rival for the 2020 nomination, Kamala Harris, suggesting she was “brand new” in the Senate at the time.