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Influential Hawaiian senator Daniel Inouye dies (+video)

Daniel Inouye, the president pro tempore of the Senate, the longest-serving senator, and a World War II hero, died Monday after a brief hospitalization. Inouye was a senator for Hawaii since 1963.

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Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, the influential Democrat who broke racial barriers on Capitol Hill and played key roles in congressional investigations of the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals, died Monday. He was 88.

Inouye, a senator since January 1963, was currently the longest serving senator and was president pro tempore of the Senate, third in the line of presidential succession. His office said Monday that he died of respiratory complications at a Washington-area hospital.

Less than an hour after Inouye's passing, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Inouye's death to a stunned chamber. "Our friend Daniel Inouye has died," Reid said somberly. Shocked members of the Senate stood in the aisles or slumped in their chairs.

Inouye was a World War II hero and Medal of Honor recipient who lost an arm to a German hand grenade during a battle in Italy. He became the first Japanese-American to serve in Congress, when he was elected to the House in 1959, the year Hawaii became a state. He won election to the Senate three years later and served there longer than anyone in American history except Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who died in 2010 after 51 years in the Senate.

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