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Sen. Inouye to remain in hospital indefinitely
[December 17, 2012]

Sen. Inouye to remain in hospital indefinitely

Dec 17, 2012 (The Honolulu Star-Advertiser - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye is fighting respiratory complications and will remain hospitalized indefinitely, his staff said Sunday.

The 88-year-old Hawaii Democrat has been in the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center since fainting in one of his Senate offices Dec. 6. He said Dec. 10 that doctors were regulating his oxygen intake, and his staff had said the senator hoped to be released within a week.

But Peter Boylan, Inouye's spokesman and deputy chief of staff, issued a statement Sunday saying there is no timetable for the senator's release.

"He is stable and communicating with his doctors and family," Boylan said in an email. "Unfortunately, he is fighting respiratory complications as work is being done to stabilize his supplemental oxygen requirements. At this time, there is no timetable for his release.

"His family and loved ones are overwhelmed by the outpouring of affection and good wishes for his recovery. We ask that the people of Hawaii and the nation keep the senator in their thoughts and prayers." Inouye is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and, as Senate president pro tempore, is third in line of succession to the presidency.

Inouye had a portion of his left lung removed in an operation after the former heavy smoker was misdiagnosed with lung cancer in the late 1960s. His staff said the senator has been using a device to help with his breathing for the past several months.

His staff said after he fainted Dec. 6, he was taken to George Washington University Hospital. He was transferred to Walter Reed on Dec. 9.

In November the senator had a minor cut on the back of his head after falling in his Maryland home and was treated and released at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Inouye was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism on the battlefield in World War II, where he lost his right arm in combat. He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962 and has become Hawaii's most influential and iconic political figure. He was elected to his ninth six-year term in 2010.

Inouye has used his post on the Appropriations Committee to bring millions in federal money to the islands each year.

If he is unable to continue in office because of his health, and there is a Senate vacancy, Gov. Neil Abercrombie would temporarily fill that vacancy from a list of three people recommended by the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

The appointee would serve until a replacement is elected in 2014 to fill the rest of the unexpired term through 2016.

If Inouye were to leave office, Hawaii would abruptly lose its seniority in the Senate. U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, who has served in the Senate since 1990, is retiring when his term ends in January.

Senate Democrats announced last week that Inouye would continue to lead the Appropriations Committee in the next term of Congress. But some Senate Democrats, speaking privately, questioned Inouye's stewardship of the committee and cited him as an example of the need for term limits for chairmanships.

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., called the anonymous criticism of Inouye "cowardly." "Senator Inouye is larger than life -- he's a giant of the Senate, a true American hero, and I'm honored to call him my good friend and mentor," Rockefeller said in a statement.

"Dan exemplifies what it means to be a public servant and has fought more for our country and his state than almost anyone I know." ___ (c)2012 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Visit The Honolulu Star-Advertiser at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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