Byrd Honored as Longest-Serving Lawmaker

Posted November 18, 2009 at 9:53am

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took to the Senate floor Wednesday morning to laud President Pro Tem Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) for becoming the longest-serving Member of Congress.Byrd, who will turn 92 on Friday, has served 20,774 days — or nearly 57 years — as a Member of either the House or Senate, and Wednesday marks the day he surpassed the record set by Sen. Carl Hayden (D-Ariz.), who served in the House and Senate from 1912 to 1969. Byrd had held the title as the Senate’s longest-serving Member; he is also the President Pro Tem, third in succession for the presidency.“As a former leader of both the majority and the minority caucuses in the Senate, he knows better than most that legislation is the art of compromise. It is telling that the man who has served here longer than any other American has come to the conclusion that we must work together as partners, not partisans, for the good of our states and our country,— Reid said on the floor.Both Reid and McConnell noted with admiration Byrd’s status as the “Dean of the Senate— and as an avid student and chronicler of the chamber’s history.“Senator Byrd’s legislative accomplishments are many, and he continues to accumulate them. And while those accomplishments fortify his incomparable legacy, he is perhaps best known in this chamber as the foremost guardian of the Senate’s complex rules, procedures and customs,— Reid said. “He has not concerned himself with such precision as a pastime or a mere hobby. He has done so because of the unyielding respect he has for the Senate. And on this momentous occasion, I say to my friend that the Senate returns that unyielding respect to him.—McConnell praised Byrd, saying, “To be a good Senator, he said, one has to work at it. And now, longer than anyone else in our history, he’s lived by those words.—Byrd’s home-state colleague Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) — who has served with Byrd for 25 years — also spoke on the floor of the senior Senator’s giant legacy in West Virginia.“At our state capital in Charleston, they’re honoring Sen. Byrd with a special celebration today,— Rockefeller said. “My fellow West Virginians are giving thanks to Sen. Byrd’s voice and for his vision. We’re grateful for his strength and his rock-solid principle, which has come to define West Virginia as surely as our endless hills and beautiful streams. The people of my state love and respect Sen. Robert C. Byrd.—