Senator Patty Murray becomes the first female president pro tempore

WASHINGTON — Sen. Patty Murray, D-W., on Tuesday became the Senate’s first female president pro tempore, the second-ranking seat in the chamber.

The president pro tempore ranks second below the president of the Senate, the vice president, and presides over the chamber in the absence of the vice president.

Since the middle of the 20th century, the president pro tempore has been the oldest member of the majority party out of tradition.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., 89, is the oldest Democrat in the upper house, serving since 1992, but she declined the role of speaker pro tempore after the November midterm elections. Murray, 72, is the next-ranking Democrat, having served in the Senate since 1993.

Murray had previously served as an aide to the Senate Democratic leader since 2017.

Murray told MSNBC on Tuesday that he wants the new Congress to prioritize child care, invest in families and improve access to education.

“I’ll be working with my fellow Republicans in the Senate and members of the House and I hope they also know that their job here, as we all fight and care about things, is to get things done and move them forward and I hope that’s what that we will see come out of this Congress,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., celebrated the defining moment for Murray on Tuesday.

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

Murray succeeds Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., 82, as president pro tempore, who retired from Congress at the end of the year after serving in the Senate since 1975.