Daniel K. Inouye

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Daniel K. Inouye was arguably the most important figure in modern Hawaii governance, a position he held for half a century. He was considered by many to be a kingmaker at home, the Democrat whose opinion on candidates and party policy mattered most.

Inouye was also a major figure in Washington. At the time of his death — Inouye died of respiratory complications on Dec. 17, 2012, at age 88 — he was the most-senior member of the U.S. Senate and the second-longest-serving senator in U.S. history.

Such was Inouye’s stature on the American political landscape that there were four memorial services held for him, two in Washington, D.C., and two in Honolulu. President Barack Obama attended two of those services, including the funeral at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Punchbowl Crater on Oahu, where Inouye is buried.

Inouye chaired the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the largest committee in the Senate and one of the most powerful, as it oversees all discretionary spending legislation. Inouye was the first Japanese-American to serve in the Senate, and was the first to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

On June 28, 2010, Inouye was sworn in as president pro tempore (“president for a time”) of the U.S. Senate, an honor afforded the second-highest-ranking official of the U.S. Senate and the highest-ranking senator. Inouye assumed the position following the death of Sen. Robert Byrd. Essentially an honorary title, the Senate pro-tem is also third in line for the presidency after the vice president and House speaker.

Born in Honolulu on Sept. 7, 1924, Inouye was a second-generation Japanese-American, known as Nisei. On Dec. 7, 1941, Inouye was a medical volunteer during the Pearl Harbor attack. In 1943, he became a member of the U.S. Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an Asian-American unit that fought in Europe during World War II. The 442nd saw heavy combat, and Inouye was wounded and lost his right arm. He was awarded a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and a Medal of Honor for his service.

After the war, Inouye earned a political science degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a law degree from George Washington Law School. He was elected to the Hawaii Territorial House of Representatives in 1954 — the year Democrats wrested control from Republicans — and served as majority leader. In 1958 he was elected to the Hawaii Territorial Senate.

Following statehood in 1959, Inouye was elected to the U.S. House. In 1962 he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served since 1963 until his death in 2012.

Inouye was valued by many Hawaii constituents for his ability to direct federal dollars to his district, much of it for U.S. military facilities, housing, projects, personnel and veterans in the islands. The funds have also gone to support education, environmental protection and programs for Native Hawaiians.

The total dollar amount is well into the billions; the nonpartisan watchdog group LegiStorm reported that Inouye’s earmarks totaled $2.7 billion in fiscal years 2008-2010 alone. Inouye long defended this largesse and even welcomed labels like “King of Pork.” In 2010, the federal government spent more than $20 billion on Hawaii for the first time.

Inouye often garnered national attention. He delivered the keynote address at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, served on the Senate Watergate Committee in the early 1970s, and helped lead the Iran-Contra investigation of the late 1980s.

Inouye won re-election in the 2010 general election with 72 percent of the vote, and he never faced a serious competitor during his time in the Senate. He was succeeded by Brian Schatz, the Hawaii lieutenant governor who was appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to fill the seat until a special election could be held in 2014. Schatz won that race, allowing him to serve out the remaining two years on Inouye’s six-year term. The race attracted a lot of attention, as Inouye’s preferred successor, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, challenged Schatz but lost narrowly.

Since Inouye’s death, speculation continues as to whether Hawaii has suffered in terms of financial support from Washington and influence in general in the U.S. capital. But his memory lives on in other ways, notably in the naming of facilities and structures in his name. They include a lighthouse on Kauai, a highway on the Big Island, a security center in Waikiki and a Navy destroyer. And, in 2013, he was honored posthumously with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Daniel K. Inouye

November 2017

Tuesday, November 28

Denby Fawcett: Would Dan Inouye Have Survived 1992 Sex Allegations Today?

August 2016

Tuesday, August 2

Ad Watch: Carlisle Says You Can Trust Him To Build Rail Right

July 2016

Wednesday, July 20

How Two Different People Could Win The Same US House Seat

Tuesday, July 19

Schatz Enjoys A Comfortable Perch On Capitol Hill

June 2016

Thursday, June 9

Hawaii On The Hill: Keeping The Islands On Washington DC’s Map

May 2016

Tuesday, May 24

Hanabusa To Run For Takai’s Seat In Congress?

Wednesday, May 11

Hirono’s Pineapple PAC Seeks To Help Dems Retake The US Senate

April 2016

Tuesday, April 19

Oahu School Renamed For Dan Inouye

April 2015

Monday, April 27

Roll Call: Hawaii’s DC Delegation Packs the Least Punch

September 2014

Monday, September 22

Did Sen. Dan Inouye Sexually Harass Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand?

November 2013

Thursday, November 21

Why Hasn’t Hanabusa Raised More Money For Hawaii Senate Campaign?

June 2013

Friday, June 28

A House Divided — Which Way Will Democrats in Hawaii Go?

Saturday, June 22

Can Inouye’s Ghost Take Down Sen. Brian Schatz?

May 2013

Friday, May 31

Off The Beat: A Memorable Memorial Suggestion

Thursday, May 23

Schatz Carries On Inouye Dream For Native American Memorial

Saturday, May 4

Senate Race Just Begun, But It’s All About Inouye

January 2013

Thursday, January 10

Former Hawaii Gov. Cayetano Says He’ll Appeal Rail Ruling

Friday, January 4

Dan Inouye’s Leftover Campaign Cash: Now Where Will It Go?

December 2012

Wednesday, December 26

The Way Forward After Inouye

Sunday, December 23

SLIDESHOW: Hawaii Says ‘Aloha’ to Sen. Daniel Inouye

Saturday, December 22

Abercrombie to Inouye: ‘You Are Home With Us in Paradise’

Inouye’s Last Wish Is Abercrombie’s Biggest Burden

Obama: ‘Danny, You Were More Than OK, You Were Extraordinary’

Friday, December 21

Two U.S. Presidents, Other Dignitaries, Remember Inouye in Washington

A Reporter Pays His Last Respects to Dan Inouye

Akaka: Pass My Bill in Memory of Dan Inouye

Wednesday, December 19

Hawaii Dems: Fill Inouye’s Seat Fast to Save Seniority

Tuesday, December 18

Lesson From Alaska: Loss of Inouye Won’t Be as Bad as We Thought

Condolences Pour in For Hawaii Sen. Dan Inouye

U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye Dead at 88

Monday, December 17

Who Will Succeed Inouye in the Senate? Hawaii Governor Will Choose

Friday, December 14

Is Hawaii Sen. Dan Inouye On The Mend? No One Will Say

Thursday, December 6

DC808: On the Wire — Closing The Deal

November 2012

Friday, November 30

Who Will Lead If Inouye and Abercrombie Leave Office?

Thursday, November 15

Spokesman: Inouye Healthy, Fall Unrelated to Grueling Schedule

September 2012

Thursday, September 27

Inouye Wants Active Role In Hirono Campaign

Wednesday, September 12

Where Is Honolulu Rail’s Federal Funding?

August 2012

Thursday, August 9

Déjà Vu As Gabbard, Hannemann Fight for Senators’ Support

July 2012

Friday, July 27

Generation Dan

June 2012

Monday, June 18

U.S. House Subcommittee Slices Money for Rail

Friday, June 15

Who’s the Wealthiest Member of Hawaii’s Congressional Delegation?

Thursday, June 7

Race To The Finish For Federal Rail Money

May 2012

Thursday, May 10

Dear Dan: Cayetano’s Email to Inouye

Monday, May 7

Is Sen. Dan Inouye Out of Touch With Hawaii?

April 2012

Thursday, April 12

Inouye: The Only Thing That Will Stop Rail is World War III

February 2012

Wednesday, February 15

Inouye Wants to Revive Interisland Ferry

Tuesday, February 7

Sen. Inouye Can’t See the Forest When it Comes to Rail

Inouye: Too Much Secrecy in Political Donations

Monday, February 6

Why the Emphasis on Local Financial Support in U.S. Senate Race?

Wednesday, February 1

Hanabusa Made Most Trips to Hawaii Last Year

January 2012

Wednesday, January 25

Obama’s Blueprint for Energy, Defense Could Mean Jobs in Hawaii

Thursday, January 19

Hawaii Speaks Out Against Piracy Bill

December 2011

Friday, December 23

2011 Year in Review — DC808

Wednesday, December 21

Inouye Still Brings Home The Bacon

Wednesday, December 14

Hawaii to Iraq and Back, No Easy Road

Tuesday, December 13

Inouye No. 1 Among Hawaii Delegates in Estimated Net Worth

Thursday, December 8

Hawaii Senators Cast Conflicting Votes on Indefinite Detention

Thursday, December 1

Inouye Says He’s a ‘Realist’ About Rail Project

November 2011

Wednesday, November 30

Inouye: Gingrich as GOP Nominee ‘Frightens Me’

Rail to ‘Plow Forward’ With Or Without Federal Money

October 2011

Wednesday, October 19

Evoking Pearl Harbor, Inouye Urges Support for 9/11 Memorial

Hawaii Officials Merrily Celebrate Rail in D.C.

Thursday, October 13

Panetta to Hanabusa on Military’s Future: ‘You’ve Got to Be Damn Flexible’

Tuesday, October 4

Inouye Sides With GOP Speaker Against China Currency Penalties

Sen. Inouye Backs Hirono in U.S. Senate Race

Monday, October 3

Daniel Inouye’s Guide To Getting Elected

September 2011

Friday, September 9

Nice Speech, Mr. President, But Can It Pass?

August 2011

Wednesday, August 24

Grab Bag: Hawaii’s 2011 Congressional Votes

Monday, August 22

When Hawaii’s U.S. Senators Don’t Vote the Same Way

Tuesday, August 16

Army ‘Discouraged’ by Record-High Suicides

Monday, August 8

Inouye: Tax Loopholes for Corporations Must End

Tuesday, August 2

Hawaii Senators Back Debt Deal Despite Concerns

July 2011

Tuesday, July 26

U.S. Senate Mails Dans’ Financial Disclosures

Tuesday, July 19

DISCUSSION: Federal Government

Inouye: Debt Debate ‘Doing This Nation Harm’

Monday, July 11

Hello, U.S. Senate? Sorry, You’ll Have to Fax Us

May 2011

Monday, May 30

Capitol Watch: May 31

Monday, May 23

Capitol Watch: May 24

April 2011

Thursday, April 28

Capitol Watch: April 29: Live Blogging from the Legislature

Wednesday, April 20

Civil Beat’s Inouye Article Sparks Civil Tweets

Tuesday, April 19

Inouye on War, National Defense

Sen. Daniel Inouye — Civil Beat Interview Transcript

Monday, April 18

Inouye’s Mission of Justice

Inouye: Take Trump Presidential Bid Seriously

Monday, April 4

Capitol Watch: April 5

March 2011

Wednesday, March 23

U.S. Transportation Chief: Rail ‘Progressing Fine’

Tuesday, March 22

Inouye’s Office: Shinseki Not Running For Akaka’s Hawaii Senate Seat

February 2011

Saturday, February 26

Capitol Watch: Feb. 28

Thursday, February 10

Capitol Watch: Feb. 11

Thursday, February 3

Capitol Watch: Feb. 3

January 2011

Friday, January 14

30 Minutes With the Most Powerful Man In Hawaii

Wednesday, January 12

Capitol Watch: Jan. 13

Wednesday, January 5

Capitol Watch: Jan. 5

December 2010

Wednesday, December 29

Pinching the Power of Dan’s Purse

Friday, December 17

Capitol Watch: Dec. 17

Thursday, December 16

McCain Mocks Polynesian Voyaging Society

Tuesday, December 14

Capitol Watch: Dec. 15

Monday, December 13

Capitol Watch: Dec. 14

Capitol Watch: Dec. 13

November 2010

Tuesday, November 30

Capitol Watch: Dec. 1

Monday, November 29

Capitol Watch: Nov. 30

Friday, November 5

Elections Dim Outlook of Akaka Bill — and Akaka?

October 2010

Wednesday, October 27

Civil Beat Poll: Hanabusa Has Edge in 1st Congressional District

Tuesday, October 26

It’s Good To Be Dan Inouye

Tuesday, October 19

Djou, Hanabusa Break the $2M Mark

August 2010

Tuesday, August 24

Video of Sen. Inouye’s Community Celebration

Monday, August 23

Scenes From Sen. Inouye’s Community Celebration

Friday, August 20

Sunday in Moiliili With Dan

July 2010

Saturday, July 24

Inouye Campaign Raises $225,605 in 2nd Quarter

Monday, July 19

Hawaii Links for Monday, July 19

Saturday, July 17

Look For the Union Label

Tuesday, July 13

Hawaii Links for Tuesday, July 13

Thursday, July 8

Inouye In Charge: A Study In Leadership

Wednesday, July 7

Hawaii Links for Wednesday, July 7

Thursday, July 1

Hawaii Links for Thursday, July 1

June 2010

Tuesday, June 29

Hawaii Links for Tuesday, June 29

Monday, June 28

UPDATE: With Passing of Sen. Robert Byrd, Hawaii’s Dan Inouye Becomes Senate President Pro-Tem

Thursday, June 17

Hawaii Links for Thursday, June 17

Tuesday, June 15

Hawaii Links for Tuesday, June 15

May 2010

Monday, May 31

Case Closed: What Ed’s Bombshell Means For Democrats

Thursday, May 27

Can Hawaii Democrats Unite At Weekend Convention?

Discussion: Hawaii Politics

Wednesday, May 12

UPDATE: The Four Bs On Hawaii Politics

April 2010

Monday, April 26

Is Hawaii helped by uncontested elections?

Friday, April 23

Inouye Stands Tall While Others May Fall