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Seattle Times: Patty Murray elected No. 3 Senate Democrat, cites ‘tough road ahead’

November 16, 2016

Seattle Times: Patty Murray elected No. 3 Senate Democrat, cites ‘tough road ahead’

By Jim Brunner

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray was elevated Wednesday to the third-ranking position among Senate Democrats, elected by her colleagues as assistant Democratic leader.

Murray, who breezed to re-election for a fifth term this month, previously held the No. 4 leadership position as conference secretary since 2006.


Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was named Democratic leader, replacing retiring Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin remains in the No. 2 position as minority whip.

Murray’s new role was part of a caucus reorganization that also expanded Senate Democratic leadership with a nod to the progressive wing of the party, adding new positions for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Despite hopes they’d retake the majority, Senate Democrats will remain an outnumbered opposition party when President-elect Trump takes office next year with the GOP in control of the 115th Congress.

“We have a tough road ahead of us with Republicans in control of Congress and a new Republican president who campaigned on dividing our country and rolling back all of the progress we’ve made over the past eight years,” Murray said in a statement.

Senate Democrats, she said, will work with Republicans if they’re willing “to move our country in the right direction” but will fight “tooth and nail — if they try to divide our country, hurt our constituents or drag us backwards.”

In addition to her leadership role, Murray will remain as ranking Democratic member on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, a key panel on health-care policy, including the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which the GOP has vowed to repeal.

Murray’s elevation means Washington state has two women in top congressional leadership roles.

Earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, was re-elected to the No. 4 position in her caucus as House GOP Conference Chairwoman.