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Schatz sworn in to U.S. Senate

Vice President Joe Biden swears in Sen. Brian Schatz as Sen. Daniel Akaka looks on. (Image courtesy of C-SPAN)

Vice President Joe Biden swears in Sen. Brian Schatz as Sen. Daniel Akaka looks on. (Image courtesy of C-SPAN)

Hawaii 24/7 Staff

Brian Schatz is Hawaii’s new representative in the U.S. Senate.

Schatz, appointed Wednesday to fill the late Daniel Inouye’s seat, was accompanied by retired Sen. Daniel Akaka at the ceremony in the Senate Chamber. Schatz’s wife, children and parents also flew to Washington, D.C. to attend the ceremony.

Vice President Joe Biden presided over the swearing in ceremony, which was broadcast live at about 9:30 a.m. on Hawaii television stations.

“…that you take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion and will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter so help you God?” Biden said.

“I do,” Schatz said.

“Congratulations Senator. Welcome,” Biden said.

Schatz was able to hitch a ride to Washington D.C. late Wednesday on Air Force One with President Obama, who cut his vacation short to work on the ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations.

The former lieutenant governor was selected by Gov. Neil Abercromie from a list of three candidates provided by the Democratic Party of Hawaii. A total of 14 Democrats had applied for the vacant seat.

The party and Abercrombie moved quickly to replace Inouye, who died Dec. 17 from respiratory problems in Washington D.C. The list included Inouye’s personal choice as his successor Congresswoman Coleen Hanabusa and Esther Kiaaina, state Land and Natural Resources Department deputy director.

“While no one can fill the shoes of our friend, Sen. Inouye, Brian Schatz is a young man, with a future full of promise and opportunity,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who attended weekend services on Oahu for his friend.

“Sen. Schatz will be a strong progressive voice for Hawaii in the U.S. Senate,” Akaka said. “Mahalo and thank you Brian for accepting this challenge. I’m here to help you in anyway I can.”

Akaka praised Schatz for his work as Hawaii’s lieutenant governor, and his previous service to the state House of Representatives, as CEO with non-profit Helping Hands Hawaii and as a leader within the Democratic party.

“While there are other talented leaders in Hawaii who stepped forward who would also have been excellent appointees,” Akaka said. “I know that my colleagues will join me and supporting Sen. Brian Schatz for the good of Hawaii.”

The minute Schatz was sworn in, he – at age 40 – became the youngest member of the law-making body. However, he will relinquish that title next week when the new class of freshman senators are sworn in.

Also, when he was sworn in, Schatz became Hawaii’s junior senator – a position he will hold for only one week. Once Akaka retires after 22 years service and his replacement, Mazie Hirono, is sworn in Jan. 3, Schatz will become the state’s senior senator.

Schatz had a make quick post-Christmas shopping trip to find an overcoat warm enough for an East Coast winter.

U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka accompanied Brian Schatz as he was sworn in as Hawaii’s new United States Senator, in keeping with the tradition of sitting senators ushering new senators from their home state. Akaka walked with Schatz to the Senate President’s desk, where Schatz received the oath of office from Vice President Joe Biden.

Immediately after the swearing in, Akaka made remarks before the Senate thanking Schatz for “accepting this challenge,” declaring that Schatz will be “a strong progressive voice for Hawaii” and calling for unity among the Hawaii Congressional Delegation.

“While there are other talented leaders in Hawaii who stepped forward and would also have been excellent appointees, I know that my colleagues will join me in supporting Senator Brian Schatz, for the good of Hawaii,” Akaka said.

Following Akaka’s remarks, Majority Leader Harry Reid also took a moment to praise Akaka.

“Your presentation right now is typical for Dan Akaka,” Reid said. “Never a word about you, always about somebody else. And if the new senator has the qualities of you, the kindest, gentlest person I have ever served in this body with, it’s something that he should strive. The shoes that he has to fill, we all know, Akaka and Inouye, are significant to fill, but he can do that. For you, Senator Akaka, with these people on the floor, we’re going to miss you so much. You are a wonderful human being and have been a great senator.”

After they finished the swearing in, Senators Akaka and Schatz met for over an hour in the Majority Leader’s Capitol office. Akaka answered questions and shared advice, and greeted Senator Schatz’s family.

Akaka’s remarks on the Senate floor:

Mr. President, I rise today to welcome Hawaii’s new United States Senator, Brian Schatz. Brian is a leader, for Hawaii’s present and for our future, and I welcome him with much aloha, which is with warm love.

I also welcome and congratulate Senator Schatz’s wife Linda, their children Tyler and Mia, his brother, and Senator Schatz’s proud parents, Dr. Irwin and Mrs. Barbara Schatz.

Senator Schatz arrives in Washington during a sad time as we continue to mourn the loss of our champion Senator Dan Inouye.

Dan Inouye will always be a legend in Hawaii. He will never be replaced.

At Dan Inouye’s memorial service in Honolulu this past weekend, I was reminded of how many people he touched in Hawaii and across the country. We must honor his legacy by working together for the people of Hawaii.

I thank Brian for volunteering for this incredible responsibility. He only learned of his appointment yesterday and did not have any time to spare. So he hopped on Air Force One and flew straight to Washington to be sworn in here today.

We need him here now because we are facing a major challenge, one that regrettably has been created by Congress and our inability to, thus far, compromise. The looming spending cuts and tax increases known as the fiscal cliff must be fixed within the next five days.

Mahalo, thank you, Brian, for accepting this challenge. I am here to help you in any way I can.

While there are other talented leaders in Hawaii who stepped forward and who would also have been excellent appointees, I know that my colleagues will join me in supporting Senator Brian Schatz, for the good of Hawaii.

Throughout my 36 year career in Congress, the Hawaii Delegation has always been unified. We have always put Hawaii first, before our individual ambition. We must continue that. Hawaii comes first.

I have followed Brian Schatz’s career for many years. He was an active member of the Hawaii State House of Representatives for eight years before becoming CEO of Helping Hands Hawaii, a non-profit organization that provides human services in the islands. As Lt. Governor, he has been a big part of our community. He has been an outspoken supporter of our troops and veterans, and defender of our environment.

Senator Schatz will be a strong progressive voice for Hawaii in the United States Senate. He will advance freedom and equality.

He will be a strong voice on climate change, expanding clean renewable energy and protecting our precious natural resources. He will defend Native Hawaiians and all of our nation’s first people, those Americans who exercised sovereignty on lands that later became part of the United States. He will uphold the values and priorities of our unique state.

I say to my friend, the new junior senator from Hawaii, never forget that you are here with a solemn responsibility, to do everything you can to represent the people of Hawaii, to make sure their needs are addressed in every policy discussion, and to speak up and seek justice for those who cannot help themselves.

God bless you, Senator Schatz. God bless Hawaii. God bless the United States of America.

Majority Leader Harry Reid:

Before my friend from Hawaii leaves the floor, we have all come and given speeches, a lot of us at least, about you, but we haven’t had a lot of people on the floor when we have done that.

Your presentation right now is typical for Dan Akaka. Never a word about you, always about somebody else. And if the new senator has the qualities of you, the kindest, gentlest person I have ever served in this body with, it’s something that he should strive. The shoes that he has to fill, we all know, Akaka and Inouye, are significant to fill, but he can do that. For you, Senator Akaka, with these people on the floor, we’re going to miss you so much. You are a wonderful human being and have been a great senator.

One Response to “Schatz sworn in to U.S. Senate”

  1. fearless10 says:

    yeah, finally new blood, akaka youre next soon we’ll be rid of the corruption that has cancered us for so long…. its only a matter of time

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