Brian Schatz becomes new Senator for Hawaii

Saturday, December 29, 2012 - 7:00am

Hawaii's newest senator was nominated, appointed, and sworn into his seat so quickly he had to scramble to get himself ready for the red-eye flight to Washington.

"I bought this coat yesterday," Brian Schatz told reporters after landing on the mainland dressed in an overcoat - hardly necessary in Hawaii, where temperatures were in the low 70s on Thursday.

Hours later, he was sworn in by the Senate's top officer, Vice President Joe Biden.

He was escorted into the chamber by Majority Leader Harry Reid and outgoing Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.

On Wednesday, Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Schatz to the seat, which was vacated after the death of longtime Sen. Daniel Inouye. Prior to serving as lieutenant governor, Schatz was a state legislator and executive of a nonprofit group.

"I am honored to serve in this capacity, and I can assure you that if given the opportunity, I will make Hawaii proud," he said after the announcement. "I'm going to work very hard, and I understand the road ahead is going to be challenging for all of us, but it also is potentially a hopeful time to rebuild as a united congressional delegation."

He arrives in Washington as Congressional leaders are wrestling over a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

Schatz hitched a ride to Washington on Air Force One with President Barack Obama. Reporters traveling with the president said Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-New Mexico, and Obama's dog Bo were also on the flight.

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