If things shake out as expected, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray will become the next president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, a position third in line for the presidency.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s nomination is a high honor for Murray, who was first elected to the Senate in 1992, the so-called “Year of the Woman.” The former state lawmaker has said she was driven to run for the Senate after watching the all-male Senate Justice Committee’s disheartening treatment of Anita Hill, a witness in the confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas.

Washington’s senior senator, fresh from a fight to retain her seat for a sixth term, would bring even more power and prestige to the state if her Senate Democratic colleagues elect her early next year.

She would fill the role vacated by the expected retirement of Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. As pro tempore, Murray’s duties will include presiding over the Senate in the absence of the vice president.

Murray will likely chair the powerful Appropriations Committee, where she would help decide priorities in spending federal dollars. She currently is chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

With Leahy’s departure, she will be the fourth most senior Senate member of either party.


Throughout her time in office, she has been a supporter of education, transportation and free trade, as well as a staunch advocate for women, children and veterans.

And as hate crimes against gay and lesbian people appear to be on the uptick, Murray has been a friend and champion of the LGBTQ community, tweeting after the reported hate-crime shooting in Colorado Springs, Colorado, over the weekend, “Every leader has a responsibility to speak out against dangerous, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and we need strong federal gun safety laws now.”

In 2015, she introduced and shepherded the Every Student Succeeds Act as a replacement for the controversial No Child Left Behind Act.

And when it comes to the environment, Murray helped secure $1 billion for culvert removal, replacement and restoration, along with $172 million for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, as part of the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Time and time again, Murray has proved to be a true leader in Washington, D.C. With the continued, overwhelming support she has received from Washington voters, we would expect nothing less. And as the new session begins in January with the Democrats in the majority, we expect even more.