Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) was officially sworn in as the third in line for the presidency as President Pro Tempore of the Senate Tuesday.
The change became necessary after the senior-most Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) — the former Pro Tempore — died Monday afternoon. Inouye was the second longest-serving senator in U.S. history.
Vice President Biden came to the Senate to swear Leahy in as Pro Tempore, despite Dec. 18 being the anniversary of the day Biden’s wife and child died more than 30 years ago.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Biden told him he would make it to the Senate for the event anyway because it was important to him. Biden served with Inouye as a senator before being elected vice president.
Before being sworn in, Leahy spoke about Inouye, saying he couldn’t on Monday because he was “overcome with emotion.”
“I looked in my desk, which I inherited from Dan Inouye and saw his signature … I looked at that, and I was overcome with emotion so I did not speak then,” Leahy said. “We all know he gave his everything to the Senate.”
After swearing Leahy in, Biden commented that the moment must be “bittersweet” for Leahy.
Inouye was sworn in after Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) died in 2009.
Inouye died Monday at the age of 88. He had been hospitalized earlier this month at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., for respiratory complications.
The Senate passed two resolutions Tuesday, S. Res. 622 and 623, which notified the House and president of the new Pro Tempore.