When Sen. Robert Byrd died Monday morning, it created a void at the position of Senate president pro-tempore, the individual third in line for presidential succession and a role filled by the Senate's longest-serving member of the majority party.
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), now 85 years old and a 47 and a half year Senate warhorse, now takes that honor and is expected to be sworn in at 2 p.m. Monday.
Inouye was elected in 1962 and is currently serving as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, a position that he acquired from Byrd after the late Senator stepped down due to health concerns. According to the Presidential Succession Act, Inouye will be placed behind Vice President Joseph Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the line of presidential succession.
Politico reports on Inouye's impressive record of service as a World War II veteran:
A son of a Japanese immigrant and a native Hawaiian, Inouye lost his right arm fighting in World War II -- and earned 15 medals and citations for his service in the war.
According to the New York Times, "the holder of the [president pro-tempore] office also becomes eligible for various other Senate perquisites, including a security detail."
Inouye addressed the passing of his Senate elder, Robert Byrd, on Monday:
"My heart is heavy with sadness following the passing of a dear friend, Robert C. Byrd, Senator from West Virginia.
"We have been friends for nearly 50 years and I am overcome with memories. Nearly 48 years ago Senator Byrd was one of the first to greet me in the chamber of the United States Senate.
"Since that first moment of friendship we have worked together on many projects. And since those early days, I have called him, 'my leader.' He was my mentor. Over the years he provided me countless opportunities and tasked me with positions of critical national oversight while guiding my actions with the temperance he learned as the longest serving Senator in history."