Hawaii Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz (D) was sworn in Thursday by Vice President Biden to fill the Senate seat of Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii).
Schatz will not face voters until the 2014 election, if he chooses to then run for a full term.
Inouye died last week at the age of 88. He had requested that Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) succeed him, but Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) chose Schatz instead in a move that surprised many.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pointed out that Schatz is now one of the youngest members of the Senate.
"Brian Schatz is young man with a future full of promise and opportunity," Reid said on the floor Thursday.
Abercrombie said Schatz is "intelligent, forceful, insightful, experienced and committed," but also heaped praise on Hanabusa, saying one of the reasons he didn't choose her was because of her highly prized seat on the House Armed Services Committee.
After swearing Schatz in, Biden said "congratulations and welcome" to the Senate.
Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii.) pointed out that Schatz was sworn in at a time when lawmakers are waiting for a deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” which is set to happen early next year, when the Bush-era tax rates expire and automatic spending cuts take effect.
Akaka also said though Inouye could never be replaced, that Schatz would up hold the values of Hawaii.
"Danny Inouye will always be a leader in Hawaii," Akaka said on the floor Thursday. "He will never be replaced."