UPDATE: With Passing of Sen. Robert Byrd, Hawaii's Dan Inouye Becomes Senate President Pro-Tem
Long a powerful force in Washington, Daniel K. Inouye became just a little bit more so following the death Monday of Sen. Robert Byrd, Democrat from West Virginia.
At 8 a.m. Hawaii time, Inouye was sworn in as president pro-tempore of the U.S. Senate, an honor afforded the second-highest-ranking official of the U.S. Senate and the highest-ranking senator.
The "president pro-tem," as the position is called, is essentially an honorary position.
Sen. Harry Reid, the Democrat of Nevada, will still control the 100-member chamber's agenda as Senate majority leader. Technically, Vice President Joe Biden is the highest-ranking Senate official, although he can only vote in the case of a tie.
But, in the unlikely event that Biden, President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should all die, Inouye would become president.