Senator Daniel Inouye Dies
Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, died today at the age of 88. Although he had been ill, his death came as a surprise to Senate colleagues.
Inouye, 88, was the most senior Democrat and therefore served as president pro tempore (or pro-temp) of the Senate, third in line for the presidency (after the Vice President and the Speaker of the House). He served nine terms in the Senate. Democrats and Republicans alike praised him as a person and a Senator.
Photo credit: Senate Appropriations Committee website
A decorated World War II veteran who lost his right arm fighting in Italy, he became a Congressman on August 21, 1959, the day that Hawaii became a State. Three years later he was elected to the Senate and was reelected eight times thereafter.
In 2009, he replaced Robert Byrd (D-WV) as chairman of the powerful appropriations committee. He also chaired the defense appropriations subcommittee.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is next in line in seniority on the full committee as well as on the defense subcommittee and therefore likely to replace Inouye on both. He is currently chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is particularly associated with Internet issues such as privacy and freedom of speech. Leahy also was second in seniority to Inouye in the Senate, so will become president pro tempore.
What impact the appropriations committee leadership change might have on space programs is unclear. Subcommittee chairs hold considerable power of their own. Senator Barbara Mikulski has been and is expected to continue to be an influential force on NASA and NOAA programs as chair of the Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee. Leahy likely will be the new chair of the defense subcommittee as well as the full committee. His views on space programs are not well known.
Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie (D) will appoint someone to replace Inouye until a special election is held in 2014 for someone to serve the remainder of Inouye's term, which runs until 2016.
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