Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was elected Senate president pro tempore Tuesday, becoming the first woman to hold the job since its inception and putting her third in the line of presidential succession.
The job has most recently been awarded to the senior-most member of the majority party. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is 89 and holds that honor, but declined to seek the position. Murray at 72 is next in line.
Murray was elected to the Senate in 1992 when there were only two women in the chamber.
During the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, Murray tweeted that she was inspired in 1991 to run for the office by the Clarence Thomas hearings.
“When I was elected, it was called ‘the year of the woman,’ and we were six. And I think a lot of the men, although they wouldn’t tell you this, were just sort of like, ‘Oh my God, what are those women going to do when they’re here?’” she joked. “And I think over time we have earned the respect of not only them but people around the country that we are serious about our roles.”
Murray’s new ceremonial job comes with a security detail and additional staff, and she says she wants to be a “problem solver in the Senate” and help craft bipartisan solutions.
While Murray was being sworn in, House Republicans were in disarray across the Capitol.
“If the House chooses to be dysfunctional amongst themselves and just not want our country to work, that puts us all in peril,” Murray said. “I hope they see above that. I think our country really does not want to see chaos or any kind of dysfunction.”