Former lieutenant governor Brian Schatz was sworn in Thursday as Hawaii's sixth U.S. senator on Capitol Hill.
Vice President Joe Biden took part in the swearing-in ceremony in the Senate chambers.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke about Schatz being one of the youngest members of the U.S. Senate.
"Nevertheless, he has a long history of serving the state of Hawaii," said Reid. "Prior to entering politics, Senator-designee Schatz served for eight years as the CEO of Helping Hands Hawai'i, one of Hawaii’s largest non-profit social services organizations."
Schatz was a member of the State House of Representatives, representing the state's 25th district, and as lieutenant governor.
"Having been a lieutenant governor, he has experience as a legislator and as one of the presiding officers of the entire Senate speaks of itself as helping prepare for the job that he has here," said Reid. "He will build upon the foundation laid during Sen. Inouye's five decades representing the state of Hawaii in the United States Senate. While no one can fill the shoes of our friend, Sen. Inouye, Brian Schatz is a young man full of promise and opportunity."
Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka spoke after Schatz was sworn in. He said Schatz is a leader for Hawaii's present and for our future.
Sen. Daniel Akaka to Sen. Brian Schatz:
"Never forget that you are here with a solemn responsibility to do everything you can to represent the people of Hawaii."
"While there are other talented leaders in Hawaii who stepped forward and who would have also been excellent appointees, I know that my colleagues will join me in supporting Sen. Brian Schatz for the good of Hawaii," said Akaka. "Throughout my 36-year career in Congress, the Hawaii delegation has always been unified. We have always put Hawaii first before our own individual ambition. We must continue that. Hawaii comes first."
"Sen. Schatz will be a strong progressive voice for Hawaii in the United States Senate. He will advance freedom and equality," said Akaka. "He will be a strong voice on climate change, expanding clean renewable energy, protecting our precious natural resources. He will defend Native Hawaiians and all of our nation's first people."
Sen. Akaka had some advice for the new junior senator.
"Never forget that you are here with a solemn responsibility to do everything you can to represent the people of Hawaii. To make sure that their needs are addressed in every policy discussion. To speak up and seek justice for those who cannot help themselves," said Akaka.
Sen. Reid had praise for Akaka's speech.
"Your presentation just now is typical for Dan Akaka. Never a word about you -- always about somebody else," said Reid. "If the new senator has the qualities of you -- kindest, gentlest person I've ever served in this body with -- it's something that he should strive."
Reid continued, "For you Sen. Akaka, we are going to miss you so much. You are a wonderful human being and have been a great senator."
Schatz, 40, takes over the final two years of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye's term. He will serve until an election is held in 2014.
In addition to Sen. Inouye and Sen. Akaka, Spark Matsunaga, Hiram Fong and Oren E. Long served as senators for the state of Hawaii.