Floor Statement Honoring Senator Byrd
Mr. REED. Mr. President, on Monday, Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia reached an extraordinary milestone: 17,327 days in the United States Senate, almost 48 years. He has cast over 17,000 rollcall votes. His congressional career has spanned the tenure of 10 Presidents, beginning with President Dwight David Eisenhower. In West Virginia, he has run 14 times and never lost. He has served for over 60 years in both the House and the Senate and other public service. This year he is running for his unprecedented ninth term as a United States Senator from West Virginia. Suffice it to say, he is the longest serving Senator in the history of West Virginia, as he is in the history of the United States. He is the only person in West Virginia to carry every county in the State, all 55. He has run unopposed for the Senate because of the regard, the respect, and, indeed, the affection of the people of West Virginia. He is 88 years old. He is not slowing down, he has never slowed down, and he will keep it up. As a Member of the Senate, he has been a leader--Democratic whip, majority and minority leader, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and President pro tempore of the Senate on two occasions. In everything he has done, he has been a champion of the Constitution and the people of West Virginia. He secured billions of dollars in funding for his home State, and he has been a leader on mine safety and other issues that are so closely tied to his constituents. In May 2001, Senator Byrd was given the award that everyone recognizes is his due. Gov. Bob Wise and both houses of the West Virginia General Assembly named him West Virginian of the 20th Century, and he is striving now for the 21st century. He is an individual who is a self-made man, starting off in war industries in a shipyard, and earning his law degree cum laude from American University while a Member of the United States Congress. He is also someone who recognizes the need for education of others. He created the Robert C. Byrd National Honors Scholarship. This scholarship provides opportunities for young Americans to pursue education as he has pursued his education. He is a historian -- a historian of this Senate and the Roman Senate. In fact, his 3,000-page "History of the United States Senate" is the premier history of this August body. He is a defender, a supporter, and, in some cases, the living embodiment of the United States Constitution. He carries it with him everywhere and every time. He is someone who not only talks about the Constitution, but on the floor of this Senate and in this country defends it each day. He is an individual of great prominence. He is an individual of great humanity. There is only one fact, I think, that is dimming this very special occasion for the Senator, and that is, it is not being shared by his beloved wife Erma Ora Byrd. But she is looking on this day with the same satisfaction, the same sense of accomplishment. It is only fitting to close with a quote from Senator Byrd because I can in no way match his oratorical skills. In September 1998, he addressed the history of the Senate and he said: Clio being my favorite muse, let me begin this evening with a look backward over the well-traveled roads of history. History always turns our faces backward, and this is as it should be, so that we might be better informed and prepare to exercise wisdom in dealing with future events. His grasp of the past has given him a wise and insightful view of the future. He has always encouraged us to learn our history and then practice our history to shape the future of this country in this Hall of the Senate. He has stood tall on so many occasions, but most notably I think was in October 2002. With an iron will and articulate voice, he questioned the policy of this Government as we entered this fight in Iraq. History, I think, will record his wisdom, his decency, and his contribution to the country. Although I am a day late, I hope I am not a dollar short. Congratulations to Senator Byrd on his model accomplishment.