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Sen. Robert Byrd (D - WV), dead after 51 years in Senate

June 28, 2010 - by Moshe Bildner

Senator Robert Byrd (D – WV) died today, ending the longest running career in the history of the US Congress. Byrd was 92 years old.

Byrd’s career in Congress was famously marked by his ideological transformation, as well as his incredible longevity. 

Byrd first entered national politics in 1953, being elected to the House of Representatives, representing West Virginia’s 6th district.  Not atypical for a southern Democrat at the time, Byrd was a deeply conservative, segregationist politician.  He was even for a brief time a prominent member of the local Ku Klux Klan.  Though Byrd would later apologize profusely for this affiliation, his time in the Klan would shadow his career for decades to come.   

In 1959, having served three terms in the House, Byrd was elected to the US Senate.  With time, his views mellowed, and Byrd eventually became something of a liberal leader in the Senate.  Famously, Byrd led opposition in the Senate to try to prevent the war in Iraq. 

Byrd was re-elected eight consecutive times, a new record for the Senate.  In that time, he filled an impressive list of positions, including President pro tempore of the Senate, Majority Whip, Minority Leader, Majority Leader, and Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. At the time of his death, Byrd was by far the longest serving member of Congress, serving well over 56 years (exactly 20,996 days) in Congress. 

Byrd’s last vote was cast on June 17, 2010, when he joined 54 other Democratic (and 2 independent) Senators to reject S.Amdt.4376, a Republican amendment to HR 4213, the unemployment extension bill currently stalled in Congress. Byrd had cast over 18,600 votes in the Senate.

Under West Virginia law, the Governor may appoint a replacement to serve out the remainder of Byrd’s ninth term. It is not known who will be selected.

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Comments

  • phillygisabout2checkout 06/28/2010 10:07am

    AS BAD AS I IS WITH BYRDS DEATH ONE LESS DEM. THAT DOES NOT CARE ABOUT THE UMEMPLOYED:) ALLOF YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED!! = NOV. 2010!! VOTE EM OUT!!!! 2 MILLION W/O BENIFETS!! AND YOU GUYS HAVE THE NERVE TO TAKE ANOTHER 10 DAY VACATION OVER THE 4TH. AND I WON’T EVEN BE BLR TO AFFORD TO TAKE MY KIDS TO SEE A FIREWORK LET ALONE BUY THEM ANY!! I HAVE WORKED 20 YRS + AND THIS IS THE 1ST AND HOPEFULLY THE LAST I EVER HAVE TO COUNT ON MY GREAT COUNTRY! BUT LETS KEEP ON HELPING EVERY OTHER COUNTRY BUT OUR OWN!! IF NO EXTENSION IS PASSED B4 THE 4TH OF JULY BREAK. ALL HELL WILL BREAK LOOSE!! ME AND MOST IMPORTANTLY MY FAMILY WILL BE HOMELESS BY THE END OF JULY!! YU SHOULD ALL BE ASHAMED!! I HAVE BEEN TURNING IN RESUMES 50-100 A MONTH WITH ONLY THEE INTERVIEWS ALL OF WHICH TOLD ME I HAD TOO MUCH EXPERIENCE AND THAT I WOULD NOT STAY ONCE AND IFTHE ECONOMY PICKS UP?? WHAT IS THAT! AND YOU PEOPLE WHO ARE EMPLOYED I DON’T EVEN WANT TO HEAR YOUR BLOGS! BE HAPPY U R WORKING!

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    Chris51 07/01/2010 8:56am

    Corporations have increased their cash reserves to $1.84 TRILLION, THE HIGHEST FIGURE IN HISTORY! Big business and the banks, after an unprecedented bailout by the public treasury, are hoarding the funds (Americans pay this back on their IRS tax bill). BIG CORPORATIONS EXECUTIVES ARE MAKING BIG BONUSES AND GETTING SALARY INCREASES FOR SHOWING HUGE PROFITS. The cash reserves of major corporations have jumped 26 percent in one year, the largest percentage increase in nearly 60 years. The cash reserves of working people, and particularly the unemployed, have not been so fortunate.

    REPUBLICANS bloc, the SENATE vote and defeat a proposed extension of unemployment benefits for unemployed workers. Many of these same Senators rushed through a $700 BILLION bailout of Wall Street in 2008 in a matter of days, cannot bring itself to support even the most meager subsistence for the unemployed workers who are the victims, not the perpetrators, of the economic crisis.
    WWW.CHANGE.ORG

  • XvxRAINxvX 06/28/2010 12:12pm

    R.I.P.

  • Revolution 06/28/2010 2:07pm

    Yeah RIP—-but get the Unemployment bill passed NOW!!Life goes on and it is obvious the Senate is in a no holds barred atmosphere and doesnt care…well there are 15,000,000+ who are in the same atmosphere due to Unemployment and inability to pay their bills, mortgage,or buy FOOD for their kids/family. It is sad when Byrds death will be overshadowed by this pressing issue. Many have ZERO compassion at this point and dont care about anything other than getting assistance-that is the pulse out there RIGHT NOW. It is unbelieveable we have to continue to talk about this and wait-they continually avoid this issue and talk about China and other non critical issues…this issue should be looked at and responded to the same as a terrorist threat in one of the states-IMMEDIATE as it threatens the stability of the Nation. My apologies to the Byrd family but we are not in normal/compassionate times!!

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  • Chris51 07/03/2010 10:01pm

    REPUBLICAN FILIBUSTER ON UI EXT BILLS!
    Why don’t our Senators get that there is a great need?

    The job market is broken.
    The corporate executives are not going to give up their year-end profit bonus by adding jobs/payroll to their companies.

    Here are a few stories on our jobless nation:

    Job recovery hits a wall
    http://money.cnn.com/2010/07/02/news/economy/jobs_june/index.htm

    Job gloom at all time high
    http://money.cnn.com/2010/07/03/news/economy/discouraged_workers/index.htm

    7.9 million jobs lost- many forever
    http://money.cnn.com/2010/07/02/news/economy/jobs_gone_forever/index.htm

    Jobless claims spike
    http://money.cnn.com/2010/07/01/news/economy/jobless_claims/index.htm

    Thousands at risk for losing unemployment benefits
    http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/dpp/money/job_news/unemployment-benefits-jeopardy-6-28-2010

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    Chris51 07/08/2010 7:06pm

    Read and sign this petition on Change.org today if you agree.

    Petition Title: Tell your Senators to vote for an emergency extension of UI Benefits.

    http://uspoverty.change.org/blog/category/employment_unemployment

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  • Chris51 07/10/2010 6:54am

    Republicans filibustered UI Ext bill! They’re asking for UI Ext be paid, while at the same time they’re fighting to give their Special Interest groups special tax stimulus. Rep are trying to look like they care about the deficit, but for 10 yrs (Bush Admin) they never spoke of concerns for the huge deficit they were digging us into as they approved large spending for Special Interest. The Rep debate on these UI Ext bills are like “broken record”. They want USA to use the stimulus money that is already committed to the agreed upon projects, programs, etc. Republicans want USA to “rob Peter to pay Paul”, so they can try to prolong the problem past November election. This is how they have operated for YEARS, and we’re in worse shape now because of their IRRESPONSIBLENESS. People should not be in Leadership positions if they cant make decision for the problems at hand.
    Dont take my word for it. Please read links Donny Shaw and others have provided with accurate research and reporting.

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    Chris51 07/10/2010 10:06pm

    Oil & Gas Industry, history of strong influence in Washington. Individuals and political action committees affiliated with oil and gas companies have donated $238.7 MILLION to candidates and parties since the 1990 (Bush Senior term) election cycle, 75% of which has gone to REPUBLICANS…
    Former oilmen George W. Bush and Dick Cheney occupied the White House for 8 yrs, the oil and gas industry could not win support for repealing bans on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. However, Congress voted in 2008 to lift a ban on offshore drilling… Read full story: http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=E0

    Drilling bans were lifted during Bush’s last months in WhiteHouse in 2008. The After consumers & transportation industry & economy felt the pain of $1-$2 price hikes of gas, during Summer 2007. It was “the straw that broke the Camel’s backs”, PUTTING USA/AMERICANS INTO TAIL SPIN.

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    Chris51 07/10/2010 10:07pm

    Top 5 Contributions from Oil&Gas Industry 2009-2010:
    1 Koch Industries $724,300 14% Dems, 86%Repubs
    2 Exxon Mobil $548,214 13% Dems, 87% Repubs
    3 Chevron Corp $516,891 18% Dems, 82% Repubs
    4 Valero Energy $467,000 17% Dems, 83% Repubs
    5 Marathon Oil $378,190 23% Dems, 76% Repubs

    Tea Party Movement benefits from millions of dollars from conservative foundations that are derived from wealthy U.S. families and their business interests. Money flowing primarily through two conservative groups: Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks. FreedomWorks receives substantial funding from David Koch of Koch Industries, the largest privately-held energy company in the country, which make substantial annual donations to conservative org…
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Tea_Party_movement_funding

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    Chris51 07/10/2010 10:07pm

    Letter was written to Senators:
    On behalf of hundreds of thousands of FreedomWorks members nationwide, I urge you to carefully consider all aspects of H.R. 4213…

    If the bill comes to a vote as currently formulated, we encourage you to vote NO, and will track the vote on our Economic Scorecard….

    Signed FreedomWorks President and CEO
    (FreedomWorks funds Tea Party ;)

    http://www.freedomworks.org/publications/freedomworks-to-senate-remove-job-killing-taxes-fr

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    Chris51 07/10/2010 10:08pm

    Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle:
    If you’ve been following the ongoing Senate campaign of Nevada hopeful Sharron Angle, you know that she’s sick and tired of the long-term unemployed taking home all of those cushy unemployment benefits. Angle’s angle is that these millions of Americans are just living large on the dole and need to have their unemployment benefits terminated so that they will be motivated to go out and get a job — one of the millions of magical jobs that exist in Sharron Angle’s mind!
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/30/sharron-angles-unemployme_n_631350.html

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    Chris51 07/10/2010 10:09pm

    Republicans only care about one thing, their own job preservation. Reps are working hard to win November’s election with the help of Tea Party Movement (FreedomWorks) and their BIG CONTRIBUTIONS FROM SPECIAL INTEREST.

    Oil&Gas Industry Contribution 2009-2010
    Koch Industries $724,300 14% Dems, 86% Repubs

    Kosh has made big contributions to FreedomWorks, a non-profit that funds Tea Party. These 2 organizations are putting a great deal of pressure on Senators to not support UI Ext. with stimulus that require corporations to help pay back through taxes.

    Most big corporations have made record profits this year by cutting jobs long-term. They started layoffs in 2007, and putting millions of Americans on unemployment.

    They created the business mantra of “DO MORE, WITH LESS”, causing today’s workforce to do more job responsibility with no more pay.

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