Takai takes oath as Hawaii delegation gains key committee posts - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Takai takes oath as Hawaii delegation gains key committee posts

As Hawaii's newest member of Congress took his second oath of office Friday, the state's Congressional representatives are regaining some of the clout lost with the death of Senator Dan Inouye and retirement of Senator Dan Akaka two years ago.

Hawaii's Congressional delegation lost more than 90 years of seniority with the death of Inouye and the departures of Akaka and Neil Abercrombie in the last few years.

But it's beginning to build influence by being assigned to Congressional committees that are important to the islands.

Mark Takai took the oath of office today in a ceremony at the Federal Court building in Honolulu, surrounded by his family and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

He already had his official swearing in last week at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. But Friday's Honolulu event was held so his friends, family and local politicians could attend.

Takai got emotional as he spoke to the nearly 400 people in attendance.

"To mark today and this occasion and to remember all those who have represented Hawaii, I wear one of Senator Inouye's prized positions: cufflinks given to him by a former president,” Takai said, his voice choking with emotion. “From my heart, I thank every single one of you for my support that has carried me here."

While he is just beginning to represent urban Honolulu in the U.S. House, Takai has already secured a post on the House Armed Services Committee, which oversees the military.

"Very early on, our first discussions, I asked for that particular seat,” Takai said. “Now maybe people don't realize this, but the person serving in this Congressional seat for almost 30 years has sat as a member of the House Armed Services Committee."

Takai joins fellow Iraq War veteran Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard on the Armed Services panel.

"Not only for this region, but for the whole world, it's important to have to influence of the whole world it's important to have the influence of these two new members of Congress on that committee,” said Pelosi. “We look to them because they live right in the area."

Meanwhile, Senator Brian Schatz will serve on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, which doles out money for federal programs and projects. It's the same panel that Dan Inouye chaired when he died in late 2012.

Last week, Senator Mazie Hirono was named the ranking Democratic member on the Senate Armed Service Committee's seapower subcommittee , which oversees the Navy and Marine Corps.

The Republicans have just taken control of the U.S. Senate and already control the U.S. House, so Hawaii's Democratic delegation will have less power than they would if their party was in the majority.

Even though Takai has just been sworn in he was holding a fundraiser Friday night, gearing up for re-election in less than two years.

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