Hawaii's delegation sworn in on Capitol Hill

Hirono is first Japan-born senator; first Buddhist in Senate chamber

Published  4:39 PM HST Jan 03, 2013
WASHINGTON -

It was an historic day on Capitol Hill as Hawaii's first woman senator was sworn in with the new Congress Thursday.

It was also a first, in many aspects, for Hawaii's new delegation.

Sen. Mazie Hirono is the hallowed chamber's first Japan-born senator and Buddhist.  She joins a record number of women.

"That the women in the Senate, 20 of us, will be a force for making some positive changes for our country," said Hirono.

Hirono joins Sen. Brian Schatz, who was sworn in a week ago, and cast his first series of votes two hours later.

"The United States Senate, in particular, has its own rules and protocols and traditions and procedures.  So the staff is excellent.  They’ve been very good about training both my staff and myself, in terms of how the Senate works," said Schatz.

The newest member of the state's congressional delegation, Tulsi Gabbard, took the oath and, at 31, becomes the youngest member of Congress and the first Hindu.

Moments after being sworn in she said the responsibility she now carries isn't lost on her.

"It’s a tremendous honor to be here today," said Rep. Gabbard. "To take on the challenges we’re facing in Washington, but also to make sure that Hawaii’s voice is heard loud and clear."

Sworn in for a second term, Hawaii's now longest-serving Representative, Colleen Hanabusa, said the Hawaii delegation has a special legacy to continue following the passing of Sen. Dan Inouye and the retirement of Sen. Dan Akaka -- and a lot of work ahead.

"In a couple months we’re going to see the debt ceiling and, of course, in addition to that, the sequester.  The sequester we have to watch very carefully because it has major implications for Hawaii," said Rep. Hanabusa.

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