WAMC News
6:20 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Vermont’s Senior Senator Moves into Powerful Positions in Wake of Inouye Death

Senator Patrick Leahy
Senator Patrick Leahy
Credit U.S. Senate

Vermont’s senior Senator is now the senior member in the U.S. Senate, and is poised to chair the most powerful committee in Congress.  


In the wake of the death of Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye, Vermont’s Patrick Leahy has become Senate President Pro Tem. Late Tuesday morning, with Senator Harry Reid and Senator Bernie Sanders standing behind him, Vice President Joe Biden swore-in Patrick Leahy as Senate President Pro Tem.

Leahy is now third in Line to the presidency, behind the Vice President and the Speaker of the House. But Middlebury College Professor Emeritus of Political Science Eric Davis points out that a probable change in committee chairmanship is more significant.

Vermont Political Analyst Chris Graff agrees, noting that while Senator Leahy’s rise to President Pro Tem provides stature, the real power will be as head of the Appropriations Committee.

Senator Leahy’s chairmanship of Appropriations is widely expected, and Vermont Republican Party Chair Jack Lindley believes it will help the state sustain most of its federal funding.

Vermont Democratic Chair Jake Perkinson believes a move from the Judiciary Committee to Appropriations would be a difficult decision for Senator Leahy.

Calls to Senator Leahy’s press office were not returned in time for this broadcast.  The Senator has not commented about his change in status, and his released statements have focused on  Senator Inouye’s passing.