U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D) will chair the influential Senate Appropriations Committee following the death this week of the committee’s previous chairman, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii.
“It’s especially gratifying to be the first woman to lead this powerful committee,” Mikulski said in a statement late Wednesday. “I am grateful for this opportunity to fight for the day-to-day needs of the American people and the long-range needs of the nation.”
The appointment was confirmed Thursday by the Senate Democratic Caucus.
Mikulski, who has served in the Senate since 1987, succeeds Inouye, who died Monday of respiratory complications.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be expected to follow the great Senator Inouye, one of my most treasured mentors,” Mikulski said in the statement.
The 30-member Appropriations Committee, the largest in the U.S. Senate, oversees the allocation of federal funds to government agencies and departments.
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy reportedly was in line to become the Appropriations chair, but decided to remain in his current position as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Mikulski, of Baltimore, is the longest-serving woman in Congress, having begun her tenure in the House of Representatives in 1977.