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Laphonza Butler Appointed to Succeed Feinstein in U.S. Senate

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California Governor Gavin Newsom has chosen Laphonza Butler, the President of Emily’s List, to take over the late Senator Dianne Feinstein’s remaining term. This decision not only marks Butler as the solitary Black woman currently serving in the U.S. Senate but also positions her as only the third in the nation’s history.

A Trailblazer for Women and Working People

Laphonza Butler, a tireless advocate for women and girls, stands as a second-generation champion for the rights of working individuals. Her extensive tenure as the president of SEIU Local 2015, the largest union in California, attests to her dedication to the labor movement. Additionally, as a partner at  the political consultancy firm SCRB Strategies, she advised and represented Uber Technologies Inc. in its interactions with organized labor.

A Trusted Adviser to Vice President Harris

Beyond her impressive record in the labor movement, Butler has served as a trusted adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris. Her influence extends to the political realm, making her an invaluable asset to California and the United States at large.

Returning Home to Serve California

Despite Butler’s current base in the greater Washington, DC area, Newsom’s spokesperson, Anthony York, reassured that she maintains a residence in California and is in the process of re-registering in the state. This move parallels that of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who re-registered in Wyoming before joining George W. Bush’s presidential campaign.

Empowering Women in Politics

As the leader of Emily’s List, Butler has championed the cause of electing Democratic, pro-choice women to public office. Her extensive experience, including key roles in both Harris’s and Clinton’s presidential campaigns in California, highlights her commitment to advancing women in politics.

A Swift Response to Turmoil

Governor Newsom’s prompt action in appointing Butler reflects his determination to stabilize the political landscape. With the recent controversy surrounding Senator Robert Menendez, Newsom’s decision ensures that California’s voice remains strong and consistent.

A Voice for Equality and Representation

Senator Alex Padilla, himself appointed by Newsom, emphasized the significance of Butler’s appointment. Throughout her career, she has been a vocal advocate for working families, LGBTQ rights, and the increased representation of women in politics.

A Unique Choice for a Critical Role

By selecting Butler, Newsom sidesteps the potential conflict of choosing a candidate already running for Feinstein’s seat. While Rep. Barbara Lee, a distinguished figure in Democratic leadership, expressed reservations about being seen as a mere caretaker, Butler’s nomination opens the door for her to run for the position in the future.

From Mississippi to Maryland: A Remarkable Journey

Butler’s journey from Magnolia, Mississippi, to her current residence in Maryland with her partner and daughter is a testament to her dedication to public service. Her roots ground her in a deep understanding of the diverse needs and perspectives of the American people.

In honoring Dianne Feinstein’s legacy with the appointment of Laphonza Butler, Governor Newsom not only fulfills a promise but also ushers in a new era of leadership for California. Butler’s extensive experience and unwavering commitment to equality and representation position her as a formidable force in the U.S. Senate. As she steps into this role, she carries with her the hopes and aspirations of a nation eager for progress and positive change.

Breaking Barriers: Butler’s Historic Role

With this appointment, Laphonza Butler makes history as the only black female member in the U.S. Senate and the first LGBTQ+ representative from California to hold this esteemed position.

A Legacy of Leadership

Dianne Feinstein, a trailblazing figure in the realm of female politicians, held the distinction of being the oldest serving senator. Her legacy is one of unwavering dedication to public service.

A New Era for EMILY’s List

Notably, Butler’s appointment also marks her as the first black woman to lead EMILY’s List. Her tenure commenced in 2021, following her pivotal role as a senior campaign adviser to Vice-President Kamala Harris during the 2020 presidential race.

A Multifaceted Career

Butler’s career has spanned various domains, including a role as the Director of Public Policy at Airbnb and a significant stint as a prominent union leader. This diverse experience equips her with a comprehensive understanding of both policy and advocacy.

Newsom’s Pledge Fulfilled

Governor Newsom’s commitment to appoint a black woman to fulfill Feinstein’s term until the November 2024 elections has now been realized. It reflects his dedication to diversity and inclusion in political representation.

A Farewell to a Pioneering Figure

Senator Feinstein had earlier announced her intention to retire at the end of the upcoming year. However, she faced mounting calls for her resignation. Notable Democrats, including Congress members Adam Schiff and Katie Porter, have expressed their intent to vie for her vacated Senate seat.

Remembering Feinstein’s Legacy

In a tribute to the late senator, President Joe Biden acknowledged Feinstein’s historic contributions, emphasizing that her influence will resonate across generations.

A Legacy of Advocacy

Feinstein’s legacy includes her vocal advocacy for gun control measures and her staunch support for the assault weapons ban enacted under President Bill Clinton in 1994. These efforts have left an indelible mark on the nation’s approach to firearms regulation.

Leading the Charge in Intelligence

As the first woman to chair the influential Senate Intelligence Committee, Feinstein spearheaded a comprehensive review of the CIA’s contentious interrogation practices following the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Her determined leadership ultimately led to legislation prohibiting the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including waterboarding, on terrorism suspects.

In appointing Laphonza Butler, Governor Newsom ushers in a new era of representation and leadership in California. Butler’s diverse background and her unwavering commitment to advocacy position her as a formidable force in the U.S. Senate. As she steps into this role, she carries with her the hopes and expectations of a nation eager for progress and positive change.

Dianne Feinstein, the longest-serving female US senator in history,

Dianne Feinstein passed away at the age of 90 after a period of declining health. Her three-decade tenure in the Senate left an indelible mark on American politics.

Feinstein’s Illustrious Career

Feinstein, a stalwart Democrat, breathed her last at her residence in Washington, according to her office’s statement. Her departure grants California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom the authority to appoint a successor to complete the remainder of her term, ensuring the Democratic majority in the chamber until early January 2025.

A Pledge Fulfilled

Governor Newsom had publicly committed to appointing a Black woman in the event of Feinstein’s vacancy. He recently reiterated this commitment on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” assuring an “interim appointment” until next year’s election, distinct from the candidates vying for the seat.

A Legacy of Influence

Feinstein’s influence extended beyond California, making her a national face of the Democratic Party since her first Senate election in 1992. Her tenure saw the enactment of significant legislation, including the federal assault weapons ban in 1994 and the 2014 CIA torture report. She played pivotal roles in the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees.

Challenges in Later Years

In her later years, concerns about Feinstein’s health and ability to lead became subjects of discussion. A hospitalization for shingles in February led to an extended absence from the Senate, causing concerns about the confirmation of Democratic-appointed judicial nominees. Her return revealed additional complications in her recovery, including Ramsay Hunt syndrome and encephalitis. A fall in August further highlighted her frailty.

A Resolute Response

Despite mounting speculation about her retirement, Feinstein’s dedication to representing Californians remained steadfast. She stated, “The real question is whether I’m still an effective representative for 40 million Californians, and the record shows that I am.”

Remembering a Trailblazer

Colleagues and leaders paid tribute to Feinstein’s impactful career. Rep. Nancy Pelosi praised her as a “champion for the Golden State,” while Sen. Dick Durbin hailed her as “one of the great ones.” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy acknowledged her trailblazing role for women.

A Moment of Silence

On the Senate floor, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for a moment of silence in honor of Feinstein. Following Senate tradition, her desk was draped with a black cloth adorned with white flowers.

A Cherished Friend and Colleague

President Joe Biden, who shared a professional relationship with Feinstein for over 15 years, described her as a “cherished friend.” Her legacy continues to shape American politics and will be remembered for generations to come.

Dianne Feinstein’s remarkable journey in the Senate stands as a testament to her unwavering dedication to public service. Her impact on legislation and advocacy has left an indelible mark on the nation. As the country mourns her loss, her contributions will forever be etched in the annals of American political history.

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