Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, the longest-serving senator in U.S. history known for passionate rhetoric and insider knowledge of Washington’s power corridors, died early Monday at age 92.
Byrd was admitted to a Northern Virginia hospital late last week for suspected heat exhaustion, and his condition worsened over the weekend. Byrd had been in frail health for several years. His office released a statement to the media at around 5:15am ET Monday:
“I am saddened that the family of U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., tearfully announces the passing of the longest serving member of Congress in U.S. history.”
Born into poverty, Byrd’s life reflects a remarkable arc of political controversy and accomplishment as well as loyalty to both Congress and his consitituents in West Virginia. In November 2009, Byrd was honored for becoming the longest-serving member of Congress. C-SPAN interviewed Byrd in 2005, and asked him to reflect on the Senate:
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., issued this statement on Byrd’s passing:
“It has been my greatest privilege to serve with Robert C. Byrd in the United States Senate. I looked up to him, I fought next to him, and I am deeply saddened that he is gone.”
NPR looks back on Byrd’s life here:
He was best known for his ardent defense of both the U.S. Constitution and the Senate’s traditions. He was also a man who fought the 1964 Civil Rights Act — to his later regret — but who took great pride in his fight against authorizing the use of force in Iraq.
And the Washington Post here:
Starting in 1958, Mr. Byrd was elected to the Senate an unprecedented nine times. He wrote a four-volume history of the body, was majority leader twice and chaired the powerful Appropriations Committee, controlling the nation’s purse strings, and yet the positions of influence he held did not convey the astonishing arc of his life.
We’ll have more on Byrd’s political career and life today on the Rundown and on tonight’s NewsHour.