FTP for TV stations of her remarks is available here.
Washington, D.C. – Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) honored the memory of the late Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on the Senate floor today, highlighting her legacy as a staunch advocate for preserving Lake Tahoe.
Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery:
Mr. President, like so many this morning, I rise to mourn the loss of a true champion in the United States Senate.
Dianne was one of the kindest, most thoughtful people that I have had the pleasure to know. When I first got to the Senate, and I’ve heard some of my colleagues this morning talk about how, as new senators, she was so gracious. As a new senator, she would invite me to dinner with colleagues, and she was such a lady and so professional and so elegant. Every time you went to dinner with Dianne, you could be guaranteed that she would have a little set of flowers for you in your place at the restaurant, and then she would have a little parting gift for you, whether it was like a little coin purse or something to show just truly who she was. And I’ve heard this morning from my colleagues, similarly, the stories of Dianne’s kindness and her respect for others.
She was a fighter her whole life, leading on so many important issues. In the coming days and weeks and months and years as people around the world honor Dianne’s memory, many will speak to her leadership, and rightfully so, on women’s rights and foreign affairs. But I want to take the time to highlight a place where Dianne did so much. And most people don’t know, unless you’re part of Team Tahoe.
Dianne loved Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is the beautiful, pristine alpine lake that both Nevada and California share. And in 1997, Dianne and then-Senator Harry Reid got together and passed legislation to protect this pristine lake. And since that time, once a year, Dianne has been instrumental in bringing people around the Lake together to address the needs for Lake Tahoe. That was all Dianne.
So when I first got to the Senate, one of the first things we talked about – she pulled me aside and said, “We’re going to have the Tahoe summit this year. I hope you’re there and I hope that will you be will there – you will be there always to support Tahoe.”
I said Dianne, I grew up around this lake. First time I was there, I was 18 years old. My mother grew up around this lake. We love Lake Tahoe in Nevada, and I can guarantee I will always be there for it. If you sat and talked to Dianne, the first think you will hear her talk about in Lake Tahoe are her memories. Her memories of riding her bike as a young girl around the lake. Her memory of times she was there with her family having the opportunity to enjoy this incredible Lake Tahoe.
I couldn’t pass this day without recognizing, of course, all of the incredible things Dianne has done. But what most people don’t know, unless you’re part of Nevada and California, is the hard work that she has done around this lake for the people who live there, for the people who cherish this lake, for the tourists that come there every single day.
And it’s not just the work she’s done here in the Senate. And this is 2017 – this is the first opportunity that I had as a young senator to join Dianne. And as you can see, Dianne was hosting it that summer, the Lake Tahoe summit. But Dianne had this ability not only to have the summit once a year to talk about how we protect this lake, but she brought together incredible, incredible stakeholders and experts around the lake, people who live there, people who worked in our states to address not just the quality of the lake and the pristineness to protect it. But everything else around it, from the transportation side to the wildfires that were happening to the environment.
And she had a luncheon, a regular luncheon after the Tahoe Summit to talk about how we continue that work together. And because of Dianne’s prestige, she had the ability to bring incredible speakers to the Tahoe Summit once a year. First President Clinton. Then one-time President Obama. Just recently, we had our former speaker, Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, speaking. We had one of our incredible senators, Chairwoman of Energy and Natural Resources at the time, Lisa Murkowski. Because it was about how we work across party lines to really focus on protecting for everyone who wants to enjoy this, Lake Tahoe. She was a true champion. And she will be missed.
And on behalf of Team Tahoe, which is what she coined it, Dianne never took credit for anything she did around this lake. Even though people wanted to recognize her and show that support, she never took the credit. She said, “This is about a team. This is Team Tahoe. This is what we do together. This is how we work together.” And this is the legacy of her work in the United States Senate. Carried forward right here, in Lake Tahoe.
So to Dianne, to her family – to her incredible family – to everyone on Team Tahoe, we will miss Dianne Feinstein. She will always be a part of the work that we do. Her legacy will live on, not just around Tahoe, but so many other areas, as we have talked about today. But I’m going to miss her. I’m going to miss the opportunity to sit with her at lunch and talk about what we still need to do to fight to protect this incredible, pristine lake. Thank you, Dianne, for your service.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.