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GOP: What About Robert Byrd?

The GOP is pointing to the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd to counter the White House's dig at Republicans for keeping Rep. Steve Scalise in leadership.  

Byrd travels through the walkway from the Russell Senate Office Building to the Capitol in May 2010. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Byrd travels through the walkway from the Russell Senate Office Building to the Capitol in May 2010. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Earlier Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said repeatedly it would "say a lot" about Republicans if they chose to have the Louisianan remain in leadership following the news he had spoken to a white supremacist group in 2002, and pointed to comments by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus about the need for the party to expand its outreach. RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski pointed to the late West Virginia senator's past in an email.  

"Under that logic, the president should have said something about his Democrat leadership when Robert Byrd, a leader in his local klan, was president pro tempore of the Senate," Kukowski said in an email.  

The president pro tempore position is an elected post under the Constitution, although it by custom goes to the most senior member of the majority, typically by unanimous consent of the Senate.  

Related: White House Throws Scalise an Anchor GOP Ready to Move On From Scalise Scandal The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.