Sen. Patty Murray, D-Seattle, speaks during a House Committee on Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies hearing. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Seattle, speaks during a House Committee on Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies hearing. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

Sen. Patty Murray elected Senate pro tempore

Seattle Democrat first woman in history to hold post

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Patty Murray made history on Tuesday, replacing Sen. Patrick Leahy as the first woman Senate pro tempore.

That position is held by the senior-most member of the majority party and is third in line to the presidency.

Murray, a Seattle Democrat, won her sixth term in the U.S. Senate in November.

Murray, 72, won her first campaign for the Senate in 1992, a suburban parent motivated to run in part by Anita Hill’s treatment at the the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas.

“I remember before I ran for Senate, watching Anita Hill speak before the Senate Judiciary Committee — questioned by all male Senators, because there were no women on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and all I could think to myself was ‘those are not the questions I would have asked!’” Murray said Tuesday.

“So watching those Anita Hill hearings was part of the reason I decided to run for the Senate to make a difference for my country — to change Congress and America for the better,” she continued.

“I hope that when young women now see me in this position they see they can accomplish anything they set their mind to. I hope they see that they not only belong in Congress — but that their voices are needed here in Congress,” Murray said.

“We need their perspectives and their insight — and we need a Congress that looks like America.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., 89, is the senior most Democrat in the upper chamber, serving since 1992, but she declined the role of president pro tempore following the November midterm elections. Murray is the next most senior Democrat.

Murray had previously served as assistant Democratic leader in the Senate since 2017.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., celebrated the glass-shattering moment for Murray on Tuesday.

“Making history today: Senator Patty Murray is now the Senate President Pro Tempore, the first woman in the history of the U.S. Senate to hold this title!” Schumer tweeted.

Leahy, D-Vt., 82, retired from Congress at the end of the year after serving in the Senate since 1975.

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