Political positions of Dianne Feinstein
|United States Senator|
Assumed office |
November 10, 1992
Serving with Kamala Harris
|Preceded by||John F. Seymour|
|38th Mayor of San Francisco|
December 4, 1978 – January 8, 1988
|Preceded by||George Moscone|
|Succeeded by||Art Agnos|
June 22, 1933|
San Francisco, California
Judge Jack Berman (div.)|
Bertram Feinstein (deceased)
Richard C. Blum
|Alma mater||Stanford University|
Dianne Feinstein is the current senior senator in the U.S. Senate representing California. Prior to her time in the Senate, she ran for Governor of California, and was Mayor of San Francisco. Feinstein tends to be seen as a moderate in the Senate. She has worked to ban civilian firearm ownership, and to gain passage of the California Desert Protection Act to preserve wilderness. She voted to authorize the use of military force in Iraq in 2002, and has stated that she is a supporter of the Patriot Act.
- 1 Bailout
- 2 Cabinet appointments
- 3 Copyright
- 4 Crime and drug trafficking
- 5 Death penalty
- 6 Environment
- 7 Foreign affairs
- 8 Free speech
- 9 Gun politics
- 10 Health care
- 11 Immigration
- 12 Intelligence programs and NSA programs
- 13 LGBT issues
- 14 Marijuana
- 15 USA PATRIOT Act
- 16 Victims' rights
- 17 Wiretapping
- 18 Congressional scorecards
- 19 References
Feinstein has supported Hollywood and the content industry when it has come into conflict with technology and fair use on intellectual property issues. In 2006, she co-sponsored the "PERFORM Act", or the "Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music Act of 2006", in the Senate, which would require satellite, cable and internet broadcasters to incorporate digital rights management technologies into their transmission. Over-the-air broadcasting would not be affected. Feinstein's consistent backing of the content industry and attacks on fair use have earned her poor marks with the EFF and IPac.
Crime and drug trafficking
Feinstein has taken a tough stance on international trafficking in her role as chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control. The Caucus is aimed at stopping trafficking from Mexico and Central America, as well as Taliban drug trafficking from Afghanistan. In 2011, Feinstein signed into law the Border Tunneling Prevention Act of 2011, building off of a previous 2006 act meant to allow both federal and state law enforcement more ability to detect and stop cross border subterranean tunnel systems coming into the US.
In October 2007, the US and Mexico entered into an assistance program known as the Mérida Initiative, with approximately $1.5 billion being given to Mexico by the US. The Caucus wrote an extensive report in May 2011, citing the successes and failures of the Mérida Initiative. According to the report, the US needs to increase judicial sector assistance to each Mexican state, increase the aid to Mexican law enforcement, and strictly monitor the sale of firearms to ensure they are not able to be smuggled across the border.
According to another report written by Feinstein, as well as Charles Schumer and Sheldon Whitehouse, a large number of the nearly 35,000 deaths from the drug trade in Mexico have occurred with weapons that have been traced back to the US. The report recommends a number of solutions to help stop the import of military grade weapons to Mexico, including the introduction of background checks on the unlicensed sale of firearms at gun shows.
Another major recommendation, which was addressed in the second Romney-Obama debate, is the banning of assault weapons. The ban, originally signed in 1994 and expired in 2004, stopped the sale of assault weapons, armor-piercing rounds, and high-capacity magazines to civilians. Feinstein believes the ban should be resigned, not only to stop violence in Mexico and California, but to decrease the amount of gun violence in California, and across America.
The issue of national security is tied to the narcotics trade in Afghanistan; another report written by the Caucus in 2010 lists some recommendations on how to decrease the flow of opium from Afghanistan, and the money coming into the Taliban. With similar prescriptions as the Mérida Initiative, the United States is using DEA officers in conjunction with military personnel in Afghanistan to root out Taliban drug lords. The practice of eradication of the poppy crop only managed to drive farmers to side with the Taliban, as their livelihood was destroyed. The US is funding legitimate projects in Afghanistan in an attempt to get the work force out of the drug trade. The major issue in Afghanistan is corruption, the report estimates around $2.5 billion is doled out in bribes per year. How the US will continue to combat drug production, as they scale back their military presence in the coming years, remains to be seen.
Feinstein has a firm position on the narcotics trade, and she has been a major player in the United States' war on drugs, both domestically and internationally. California has a high stake in this conflict as it is on the front lines of much of the drug trade with Mexico, and much of the movement of firearms into Mexico comes from California.
Feinstein and Senator Alan Cranston worked for over 10 years to pass the California Desert Protection Act. The bill was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994. The bill protected 7,661,089 acres (31,003 km2) of California's desert lands as wilderness and national parks. The Act doubled the size of the National Wilderness Preservation System in California, and was the largest wilderness bill in California's history.
Senators Feinstein and Barbara Boxer were the champions of the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 17, 2006. The bill protected 275,830 acres (1,116 km2) of federal land as wilderness, and 21 miles (34 km) of stream as a wild and scenic river, including such popular areas as the King Range and Cache Creek. Senators Feinstein and Boxer worked with Representative Mike Thompson, the sponsor of the bill in the House, in the 5-year effort to pass the legislation.
Feinstein, along with her colleague Boxer, voted in favor of subsidy payments to conventional commodity farm producers, at the cost of subsidies for conservation-oriented farming. More recently, Feinstein has not taken a stand on the widely criticized subsidies in the 2007 U.S. Farm Bill.
Feinstein supported the Iraq war resolution in the vote of October 11, 2002; she has since claimed that she was misled by President Bush on the reasons for going to war. However, former UN Weapons Inspector in Iraq Scott Ritter has stated that Feinstein in summer 2002 acknowledged to him that she knew the Bush administration had not provided any convincing intelligence to back up its claims about the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
In February 2007, Feinstein warned Republicans not to block consideration of a measure opposing President Bush's troop increase in Iraq, saying it would be a "terrible mistake" to prevent debate on the top issue in America.
In May 2007, Feinstein voted for an Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, which continued to fund the Iraq occupation without a firm timetable for withdrawal. The Senator said, "I am deeply disappointed that this bill fails to hold the President accountable for his Administration's flawed Iraq War policy. The American people have made their voices clear that there must be an exit strategy for Iraq. Yet this President continues to stubbornly adhere to more of the same."
She also voted for the McCain-Feingold legislation.
In 2010, Feinstein voted in favor of unilateral US censorship of the Internet by voting in favor of COICA. Also in 2010, Feinstein said in reference to Cablegate, "Whoever released this information should be punished severely."
Feinstein had experienced two assassination attempts as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, in which Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were killed while in office. In 1993, Feinstein, along with then-Representative Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy (who lost two of his brothers to assassination), led the fight to ban many semi-automatic firearms deemed assault weapons and restrict the sale of high capacity magazines. The ban was passed as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
In 2004, when the ban was set to expire, Feinstein sponsored a 10-year extension of the ban as an amendment to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act; while the amendment was successfully added, the act itself failed. The act was then revived in 2005, and, despite Feinstein's best efforts, was passed without an extension of the assault weapons ban. In response to the Sandy Hook School massacre, Sen. Feinstein has re-introduced legislation to reinstate the ban on assault weapons, as well as many more restrictions.
Discussing why the 1994 act only prohibited the manufacture or import of assault weapons, instead of the possession and sale of them, Feinstein said on CBS-TV's 60 Minutes, February 5, 1995, "If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them . . . Mr. and Mrs. America, turn 'em all in, I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren't here."
On April 27, 1995, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Terrorism in the United States", Feinstein stated that - in the early 1970s - she applied for, and received, a license to carry a concealed gun after she and her family were threatened and their house physically attacked by a local terrorist group named the New World Liberation Front. As Feinstein stated to the Senate panel:
- "I want to just give you a personal anecdote about terrorism, because less than 20 years ago, I was the target of a terrorist group. It was the New World Liberation Front. They blew up power stations and put a bomb at my home when my husband was dying of cancer. And the bomb was set to detonate at two o'clock in the morning, but it was a construction explosive that doesn't detonate when it drops below freezing. It doesn't usually freeze in San Francisco, but on this night, it dropped below freezing, and the bomb didn't detonate. I was very lucky. But, I thought of what might have happened. Later the same group shot out all the windows of my home.
- And, I know the sense of helplessness that people feel. I know the urge to arm yourself, because that's what I did. I was trained in firearms. I'd walk to the hospital when my husband was sick. I carried a concealed weapon. I made the determination that if somebody was going to try to take me out, I was going to take them with me.
- Now having said all of that, that was a period of time ago, and I've watched through these 20 years as terrorism has increased, both on the far extremist left and the far extremist right in this country, and in particularly in my state--I never thought I would live in a country where we would have to put out a bomb summary every year, but we do, today."
In January 2013, Feinstein, along with Representative Carolyn McCarthy from New York, proposed a bill that would "ban the sale, transfer, manufacturing, or importation of 150 specific firearms, including semi-automatic rifles or pistols that can be used with a detachable or fixed ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and have specific military-style features, including pistol grips, grenade launchers or rocket launchers". The bill has an exemption for 900 specific models of guns that are used in hunting and for sport. Feinstein commented on the issue saying, "Massacres have taken place in businesses, law practices, malls, movie theaters, and especially schools. These massacres don't seem to stop, they continue on. Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tuson, and Oak Creek. The common thread in each of these shootings is the gunman used a semi-automatic assault weapon or large capacity ammunition magazines. Military assault weapons only have one purpose and in my opinion, it's for the military."
She has voted in favor of regulating tobacco as a drug; expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program; overriding the president's veto on adding 2 to 4 million children to SCHIP eligibility; increasing Medicaid rebate for producing generic drugs; negotiating bulk purchases for Medicare prescription drugs; allowing re-importation of Rx drugs from Canada; allowing patients to sue HMOs & collect punitive damages; including prescription drugs under Medicare; Medicare means-testing; etc. She has voted against the Paul Ryan Budget's Medicare choice, tax & spending cuts; allowing tribal Indians to opt out of federal health care; etc. Feinstein's Congress voting record was assessed as "88%" by the American Public Health Association (APHA), the figure ostensibly reflecting the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
In an April 2017 town hall meeting in San Francisco, Feinstein stated, "If single-payer health care is going to mean the complete takeover by the government of all health care, I am not there."
Feinstein is a supporter and co-sponsor of the H-1B Visa program. After strongly opposing the AgJobs immigration provisions in 2005, warning that they would encourage illegal immigration from Mexico, she reversed her position, when the measures were proposed again, in 2008.
Intelligence programs and NSA programs
The first week of June 2012, Feinstein said that the "avalanche of leaks" occurring in relation to U.S. intelligence affairs was "very, very disturbing. You know, it's dismayed our allies. It puts American lives in jeopardy. It puts our nation's security in jeopardy."
Together with other heads of Congressional oversight, Feinstein vowed to stop leaks. One week later, she co-sponsored, with Senator Saxby Chambliss, S. 3314: A bill to specifically authorize certain funds for an intelligence or intelligence-related activity and for other purposes. It is not known if this bill is related to the leak-stopping exercise.
After the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures involving operated by the National Security Agency (NSA), Feinstein took measures to continue the collection programs. Foreign Policy wrote that she had a "reputation as a staunch defender of NSA practices and the White House's refusal to stand by collection activities targeting foreign leaders". In October 2013, she criticized the NSA for monitoring telephone calls of foreign leaders friendly to the US. In November 2013, she promoted the Fisa Improvements Act bill, which included a "backdoor search provision" that allows intelligence agencies to continue certain warrantless searches as long as they are logged and "available for review" to various agencies.
On November 12, 2013, Feinstein introduced the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (S. 1681; 113th Congress). The bill would authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2014 for intelligence activities of the U.S. government. The bill would authorize there to be funding for intelligence agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency or the National Security Agency, but a separate appropriations bill would also have to pass in order for those agencies to receive any money. Feinstein said that "Congress has a responsibility to ensure the DNI and other intelligence leaders have the resources and flexibility they need to protect the nation."
Feinstein introduced a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, the Respect for Marriage Act, in the 112th Congress. The bill was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 10, 2011.
Feinstein has a "C-" rating from NORML for her voting history regarding cannabis-related causes. She considers marijuana a "gateway drug", and has opposed the legalization of medical marijuana without further research.
USA PATRIOT Act
Feinstein was the original Democratic co-sponsor of a bill to extend the USA PATRIOT Act. In a December 2005 statement, Feinstein stated, "I believe the Patriot Act is vital to the protection of the American people."
Feinstein proposed an amendment to the Patriot Act would have explicitly excluded U.S. citizens from the detention authority created by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed just after the September 11 attacks in 2001. The amendment failed 45-55.
Though her amendment was defeated, the compromised amendment, passed 99-1, affirmed that nothing in the NDAA is intended to alter the government's current legal authority to detain prisoners captured in the war on terror.
Feinstein has been one of Congress's strongest advocates for victims' rights. In the 1990s, Feinstein was one of the original sponsors, along with Republican Senator Jon Kyl, of an effort to amend the United States Constitution to protect victims' rights in trial. Though the constitutional amendment ultimately failed, Senators Kyl and Feinstein authored the 2004 Scott Campbell, Stephanie Roper, Wendy Preston, Louarna Gillis, and Nila Lynn Crime Victims' Rights Act, which listed a victims' bill of rights and provided mandamus relief in appellate court for any victim denied those rights. The act also offered sanctions against government officials who wantonly and willfully refused to comply with the Crime Victims' Rights Act. Both Senators Kyl and Feinstein described their collaboration as a high point of bi-partisan collaboration in their careers. In front of the Senate, Senator Kyl said, "This legislation would not be before us today without Senator Feinstein. That is simply a fact. For all of the hard work we have put in with her cooperation and her commitment to this, I thank Senator Feinstein deeply. She knows that bond of trust will continue to exist between us."
In August 2007, Feinstein joined Republicans in the Senate in voting to modify the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by narrowing the scope of its protections to sharply alter the legal limits on the government's ability to monitor phone calls and email messages of American citizens. Feinstein voted to give the attorney general and the director of national intelligence the power to approve international surveillance of the communications of Americans entirely within the executive branch, rather than through the special intelligence court established by FISA. Many privacy advocates have decried this law and Feinstein's vote in favor of it. In February 2008, Feinstein joined Republicans in the Senate in voting against removing the provisions that provided immunity from civil liability to electronic communication service providers for certain assistance (most notably, access without warrants to fiber-optic cables carrying bulk transmissions for the purposes of interception and monitoring) provided to the Government.
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- "Testimony of Mr. Edgar Bronfman". US Senate Judiciary Committee. 2006-04-26. Archived from the original on 2007-04-26. Retrieved 2007-05-12.
- Wire, Sarah D. "Why centrist Dianne Feinstein is moving so much to the left that she now opposes the death penalty". latimes.com. Retrieved 2018-05-24.
- Becker, Elizabeth (2002-04-08). "California Farmers Reconsidering Opposition To Subsidies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- Lochhead, Carolyn (2007-11-01). "Boxer, Feinstein have yet to reveal where they stand on farm bill". San Francisco Chronicle.
- Ritter, Scott (2005-12-04). "What Happened to Iraq's WMD". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-05-07.
- "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer". transcript. CNN. 2007-02-04. Retrieved 2007-09-15.
- "Senate Approves FY'07 Supplemental Appropriations Bill". Senator Feinstein's Official Site. 2007-05-25. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
- "Statement in Support of Flag Protection Amendment" (Press release). Sen. Dianne Feinstein. 2006-06-27. Retrieved 2007-05-09.
- "Dianne Feinstein on FOX News to Support the Fairness Doctrine" (Press release). FOX News. 2007-06-27. Retrieved 2007-06-27.
- Chris W. Cox (March 7, 2004). "2nd Amendment Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
- NRA-ILA. "Feinstein Goes For Broke With New Gun-Ban Bill". NRA. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
- "What Assault Weapons Ban?". 60 Minutes. CBS News. 1999-08-01. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
- "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 109th Congress - 2nd Session". US Senate. 2006-07-13. Retrieved 2007-05-12.
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- "Terrorism in the United States". C-SPAN. 1995-04-27. Retrieved 2013-03-21.
- The Washington Post. Nexis. 1982-07-31. Missing or empty
- "Sen. Feinstein Doesn't Have Concealed Carry Permit Anymore". The Hill. 2012-12-20. Retrieved 2013-03-21.
- Steinhauer, Jennifer (January 24, 2013). "Senator Unveils Bill to Limit Semiautomatic Arms". The New York Times. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
- Feinstein, Dianne (January 24, 2012). "Lawmakers Unveil New Assault Weapons Ban".
- Berkowitz, Bonnie; Cai, Weiyi; Lu, Denise; Gamio, Lazaro. "Everything lawmakers said (and didn't say) after the Orlando mass shooting". Washington Post. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
- Feinstein voting record on Health Care issues, VoteSmart
- Dianne Feinstein on Health Care, On The Issues
- Democrats participating in 03n-APHA, On The Issues
- "Feinstein: ‘I Am Not There’ on Single-Payer Health Care System, Town Hall Crowd Boos" by Jack Heretik, Free Beacon, 17 April 2017
- "Dianne Feinstein faces down boos at San Francisco town hall, will hold another in L.A. Thursday" by Christine Mai-Duc , Los Angeles Times, 17 April 2017
- Parker, Randall. "Senator Dianne Feinstein Opposes AgJobs Immigration Amnesty". ParaPundit. April 15, 2005. Accessed January 6, 2008.
- "Feinstein shifts on ag jobs plan" Archived May 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.. The Fresno Bee. May 17, 2008. Accessed January 6, 2009.
- ""Dianne Feinstein Is Still a Friend of the NSA After All" Archived November 15, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Foreign Policy. November 1, 2013. Retrieved on November 18, 2013.
- Lewis, Paul and Spencer Ackerman. "NSA: Dianne Feinstein breaks ranks to oppose US spying on allies". The Guardian. October 28, 2013. Retrieved on November 18, 2013.
- Ackerman, Spencer. "Feinstein promotes bill to strengthen NSA's hand on warrantless searches". The Guardian. November 15, 2013. Retrieved on November 18, 2013.
- Herb, Jeremy. "Feinstein stands by labeling Snowden a traitor" Archived November 5, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.. The Hill. October 29, 2013. Retrieved on November 19, 2013.
- "CBO - S. 1681". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
- Cox, Ramsey (11 June 2014). "Senate passes Intelligence authorization bill". The Hill. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
- "Feinstein, Chambliss Announce Committee Approval of Fiscal Year 2014 Intelligence Authorization". Directions Magazine. 7 November 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
- Scorecard. Human Rights Campaign. Accessed May 3, 2012.[dead link]
- Kristin McMurran (July 9, 1094). "Dianne Feinstein". People. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
- "Respect for Marriage Act of 2011". United States Congress. Retrieved May 3, 2012.
- . Accessed May 3, 2012.
- "Help UAFA Now" Archived June 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. LezGetReal. Accessed September 2, 2010.
- "Lesbian immigrant gets deportation reprieve" Bay Area Reporter. Accessed September 2, 2010.
- "California Scorecard". NORML. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
- "Statement on the President's Comments Regarding Patriot Act and Domestic Spying" (Press release). Sen. Dianne Feinstein. 2005-12-19. Retrieved 2007-05-09.
- "Senate votes to allow indefinite detention of Americans". Politico. 2011-12-01. Retrieved 2014-01-15.
- 18 U.S.C. 3771 (West 2008)
- 150 Cong Rec S 4260, April 22, 2004.
- "S.1927 vote tally". U.S. Senate. 2007-08-03. Retrieved 2007-08-06.
- Risen, James (2007-08-06). "Bush Signs Law to Widen Reach for Wiretapping". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-06.
- "Dodd Amdt. No. 3907". U.S. Senate. 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2008-02-13.