WASHINGTON — Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., on Tuesday became the first female Senate president pro tempore, the second-highest-ranking position in the chamber.
The president pro tempore ranks second under the president of the Senate — the vice president — and presides over the floor in the vice president's absence.
Since the mid-20th century, the president pro tempore has been the senior member of the majority party out of tradition.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., 89, is the most senior Democrat in the upper chamber, having served since 1992, but she declined the role of president pro tempore after the November midterm elections. Murray, 72, is the next most senior Democrat, having served in the Senate since 1993.
Murray was assistant Democratic leader in the Senate since 2017.
Murray told MSNBC on Tuesday that she wants to prioritize child care, investing in families and improving access to education in the new Congress.
"I will be working with my Republican colleagues in the Senate and members of the House, and I hope that they, too, know their job here, as much we all fight and care about things, is to get things done and to move things forward, and I hope that is what we will see come out of this Congress," she said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., celebrated the glass-shattering moment for Murray on Tuesday.
"Making history today: Senator Patty Murray is now the Senate President Pro Tempore, the first woman in the history of the U.S. Senate to hold this title!" Schumer tweeted.
Murray succeeds Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., 82, who retired from Congress at the end of the year after having served in the Senate since 1975.