[Senate Document 111-14]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
Robert C. Byrd
LATE A SENATOR FROM
AND OTHER TRIBUTES
hon. robert c. byrd
hon. robert c. byrd
Robert C. Byrd
Memorial Addresses and
HELD IN THE SENATE
AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
OF THE UNITED STATES
TOGETHER WITH MEMORIAL SERVICES
IN HONOR OF
ROBERT C. BYRD
Late a Senator from West Virginia
One Hundred Eleventh Congress
Compiled under the direction
Joint Committee on Printing
Proceedings in the Senate:
Tributes by Senators:
Akaka, Daniel K., of Hawaii....................
Alexander, Lamar, of Tennessee
Barrasso, John, of Wyoming.....................
Baucus, Max, of Montana........................
Begich, Mark, of Alaska........................
Bennett, Robert F., of Utah....................
Bond, Christopher S., of Missouri..............
Boxer, Barbara, of California
Brown, Scott, of Massachusetts.................
Brown, Sherrod, of Ohio........................
Brownback, Sam, of Kansas......................
Bunning, Jim, of Kentucky......................
Burris, Roland W., of Illinois.................
Cardin, Benjamin L., of Maryland...............
Carper, Thomas R., of Delaware.................
Casey, Robert P., Jr., of Pennsylvania.........
Chambliss, Saxby, of Georgia...................
Cochran, Thad, of Mississippi..................
Conrad, Kent, of North Dakota..................
Cornyn, John, of Texas.........................
Dodd, Christopher J., of Connecticut
Dorgan, Byron L., of North Dakota..............
Durbin, Richard, of Illinois...................
Enzi, Michael B., of Wyoming...................
Feingold, Russell D., of Wisconsin.............
Feinstein, Dianne, of California...............
Graham, Lindsey, of South Carolina.............
Harkin, Tom, of Iowa...........................
Hatch, Orrin G., of Utah.......................
Hutchison, Kay Bailey, of Texas
Inouye, Daniel K., of Hawaii...................
Isakson, Johnny, of Georgia....................
Johnson, Tim, of South Dakota..................
Kaufman, Edward E., of Delaware................
Kerry, John F., of Massachusetts...............
Kyl, Jon, of Arizona...........................
Landrieu, Mary L., of Louisiana
57, 113, 129
Lautenberg, Frank R., of New Jersey............
Leahy, Patrick J., of Vermont..................
LeMieux, George S., of Florida.................
Levin, Carl, of Michigan.......................
Lincoln, Blanche L., of Arkansas...............
McCain, John, of Arizona.......................
McConnell, Mitch, of Kentucky..................
Mikulski, Barbara A., of Maryland..............
Murkowski, Lisa, of Alaska.....................
Murray, Patty, of Washington...................
Nelson, Bill, of Florida.......................
Reed, Jack, of Rhode Island....................
Reid, Harry, of Nevada
3, 82, 124
Rockefeller, John D., IV, of West Virginia.....
Schumer, Charles E., of New York...............
Snowe, Olympia J., of Maine....................
Specter, Arlen, of Pennsylvania................
Stabenow, Debbie, of Michigan..................
Tester, Jon, of Montana........................
Udall, Tom, of New Mexico......................
Webb, Jim, of Virginia.........................
Whitehouse, Sheldon, of Rhode Island...........
Proceedings in the House of Representatives:
Tributes by Representatives:
Boccieri, John A., of Ohio.....................
Capito, Shelley Moore, of West Virginia........
Dicks, Norman D., of Washington................
Frank, Barney, of Massachusetts................
Gohmert, Louie, of Texas.......................
Holt, Rush D., of New Jersey...................
Hoyer, Steny H., of Maryland...................
Jackson Lee, Sheila, of Texas..................
Johnson, Eddie Bernice, of Texas...............
Kaptur, Marcy, of Ohio.........................
Lewis, Jerry, of California....................
Mollohan, Alan B., of West Virginia............
Obey, David R., of Wisconsin...................
Pelosi, Nancy, of California...................
Rahall, Nick J., II, of West Virginia
146, 156, 159
Charleston, West Virginia..........................
Memorial Baptist Church............................
In the Halls of Congress, Robert C. Byrd will be best
known for his fierce defense of the Constitution and the
institution of the Senate. The Almanac of American
Politics stated that Robert Byrd ``may come closer to the
kind of senator the Founding Fathers had in mind than any
other.'' Senators from both parties have paid tribute to
Robert Byrd's devotion to the Constitution. He endeavored
to make sure that the wisdom of the Constitution's Framers
was not forgotten and that the people's liberties were
On June 12, 2006, Robert Byrd became the longest-serving
U.S. Senator in the history of our Nation and, in November
2006, he was elected to an unprecedented ninth full term
in the Senate. But it was on November 18, 2009, that
Senator Byrd became the longest-serving Member of Congress
in the history of our great Republic, surpassing the
record of the late Senator Carl Hayden's service of 20,773
days. Senator Byrd went on to serve 20,996 days, setting a
new record of service in the Congress.
During his tenure, which spanned 12 administrations, his
colleagues elected him to more leadership positions than
any other Senator in history--secretary of the Senate
Democratic Conference; Senate majority whip; chairman of
the Senate Democratic Steering Committee; chairman of the
Senate Democratic Policy Committee; chairman of the Senate
Democratic Conference; Senate minority leader; twice as
Senate majority leader; President pro tempore emeritus;
and President pro tempore--a position third in line of
succession to the Presidency, and the second highest
ranking official in the U.S. Senate and the highest
ranking Senator in the majority party. He was President
pro tempore at the time of his death in June 2010.
But the post that gave him the most satisfaction was
chairman of the Appropriations Committee, with its power
of the purse--a post he held during five Congresses,
longer than any other Senator, and which he gave up only
in 2009 as his health declined. He continued to serve as
the senior member of the powerful Senate Appropriations
Committee, and was the chairman of the Senate
Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security. Robert
Byrd also served on the Senate Budget, Armed Services, and
Rules and Administration Committees.
Throughout his career, Senator Byrd cast 18,689 roll
call votes--more votes than any other Senator in American
history--compiling an amazing 97 percent attendance record
in his more than five decades of service in the Senate.
Born Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr., in North Wilkesboro,
North Carolina, Robert Byrd's natural mother, Ada Kirby
Sale, died in the great influenza epidemic of 1918 when he
was barely a year old. Her dying wish to her husband
Cornelius was to give the baby to his sister Vlurma Sale
Byrd and her husband, Titus Dalton Byrd. They renamed the
baby Robert Carlyle Byrd after their only son who had
died, and raised him in the coal camps of West Virginia
where his adopted father was a coal miner.
Growing up in the West Virginia coalfields, Robert Byrd
not only learned the values that guided him in his life,
but that is where he also met his life's love, Erma Ora
James. They both attended Mark Twain High School and
married shortly after graduation in 1937. For nearly 69
years, the Byrds were inseparable, traveling the hills and
hollows of West Virginia and crossing the globe together.
Mrs. Byrd passed away on March 25, 2006.
Robert Byrd was the valedictorian of his high school
class at the age of 16, and after 10 years of classes at
night at the American University while serving as a U.S.
Senator, Senator Byrd earned his law degree in 1963. He
was profoundly self-educated and well read. His Senate
speeches sparkled with citations from Shakespeare, the
King James Version of the Bible, and the histories of
England, Greece, and Rome.
Knowing the importance of education, Senator Byrd helped
thousands of young people earn their own college diploma.
Through the Scholastic Recognition Award, which the
Senator started in 1969, the valedictorian at each West
Virginia public and private high school receives a savings
bond and a special congratulations from the Senator. Then,
in 1985, Senator Byrd launched the first and only Federal
merit-based scholarship, the Robert C. Byrd Honors
Scholarship Program. Since its inception, tens of
thousands of students across the country have helped to
pay their tuition bills through this unique initiative.
At an early age, Robert Byrd learned to play the fiddle,
and he carried it with him everywhere. He played in
churches, homes, and hamlets throughout southern West
Virginia. While campaigning for political office he made
his fiddle case his briefcase. His skill with the
instrument helped to get people's attention on the stump,
and eventually led to performances at the Kennedy Center
and on national television. Senator Byrd even recorded his
own album, Mountain Fiddler. And, in October 2008, Robert
Byrd was on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry as he was
presented with the Dr. Perry F. Harris Distinguished
Fiddler Award for his fiddle-playing passion.
If his West Virginia values defined Senator Byrd, then
the Constitution of the United States gave him a
foundation to fight for liberty and freedom. Always close
to his heart, the Constitution guided Robert Byrd. Its
words and wisdom served as the foundation for his fierce
defense of principle and of the people's liberties. It did
not matter from where the danger came. If the people's
freedoms were jeopardized, if the Constitution's delicate
balance was threatened, one would find Senator Robert Byrd
leading the defense. Some considered his finest hour,
leading the charge against the invasion of Iraq. He
denounced the 2002 congressional resolution authorizing
the President to make war on Iraq. It ``amounted to a
complete evisceration of the Congressional prerogative to
declare war,'' he wrote in Losing America.
From his humble beginnings to the halls of power, Robert
Byrd never forgot where he came from or where he was
going. He was a statesman, a patriot, a defender of the
Constitution, a proud son of West Virginia, and one of the
most important leaders in America.
Senator Byrd was blessed with a loving family, including
two daughters, Mrs. Mohammad (Mona Byrd) Fatemi and Mrs.
Jon (Marjorie Byrd) Moore; six grandchildren: Erik,
Darius, and Fredrik Fatemi; Michael Moore (deceased), Mona
Byrd Moore Pearson, and Mary Anne Moore Clarkson; five
great granddaughters: Caroline Byrd Fatemi, Kathryn James
Fatemi, and Anna Cristina Honora Fatemi; Emma James
Clarkson and Hannah Byrd Clarkson; and two great
grandsons, Michael Yoo Fatemi and James Matthew Fatemi.
Senator Byrd was the author of five books: The Senate,
1789-1989, consisting of four volumes; The Senate of the
Roman Republic: Addresses on the History of Roman
Constitutionalism; Losing America: Confronting A Reckless
and Arrogant Presidency; Robert C. Byrd: Child of the
Appalachian Coalfields; and coauthor with Steve Kettmann,
Letter to a New President.
ROBERT C. BYRD
Proceedings in the Senate
Monday, June 28, 2010
The Chaplain, Dr. Barry C. Black, offered the following
Let us pray.
Immortal, invisible God only wise, the fountain of every
blessing, we thank You for the life and legacy of Senator
Robert C. Byrd, our friend and colleague whose death we
grieve today. We praise You for his more than five decades
of exemplary service to our Nation and the citizens of
West Virginia, for the way he carried out his duties with
integrity and faithfulness. We are grateful that he knew
when to ask the tough questions, and to challenge the
Lord, You gave him courage to make course corrections
both privately and publicly and empowered him to oppose
without bitterness, to compromise with wisdom, and to
yield without being defeated. I thank You that he was my
Lord, we pray for his loved ones, our Senate family, and
all who mourn his passing. May his many contributions to
our Nation not be forgotten by this and succeeding
generations. May all of us who had the privilege of
knowing our Nation's longest serving legislator emulate
his passion, patience, and perseverance. Give him a crown
of righteousness and permit him to hear You say, ``Well
done, good and faithful servant.''
We pray in Your merciful Name. Amen.
Mr. REID. I ask that the Senate observe a moment of
silence for Senator Byrd.
(Moment of silence.)
Mr. President, our Senate family grieves today with the
Byrd family over the loss of one of the most dedicated
Americans ever to serve this country; one of the most
devoted men ever to serve his State; one of the most
distinguished Senators ever to serve in the Senate.
Robert Byrd's mind was among the greatest the world has
ever seen. As a boy, he was called upon, when he was in
elementary school, to stand before the class and recite
not paragraphs from the assignment of the night before but
pages of the night before. He did this from memory.
From his graduation as valedictorian of his high school
class at the age of 16 to his death this morning as the
Senate's President pro tempore at age 92, he mastered
everything he touched with great thoughtfulness and skill.
This good man could drive from his home here in Washington
to West Virginia and back--it took 8 hours--reciting
classic poetry the entire time, and not recite the same
I was asked by Senator Byrd to travel to West Virginia
to do an exchange with the British Parliament. There were
a number of us there, eight or nine Senators, and a like
number of British Parliamentarians. I can remember that
night so well. We had the music up there he liked the
best--bluegrass music--and they played. It was a festive
Then it came time for the program. Senator Byrd said,
``I am going to say a few things.'' And he passed out
little notebooks. He had notebooks passed out to everyone
there with a little pencil. He wanted to make sure
everything was just right; that people, if they had
something to write, had something to write on and write
with. And he proceeded, standing there without a note, to
pronounce the reign of the British monarchs, from the
beginning to the end. He would give the dates they served.
On some of the more difficult spellings, he would spell
the name. And he would, as I indicated, if it was
something he really wanted to talk about that they had
accomplished that he thought was noteworthy, he would tell
us about that. That took about an hour and a half to do
that. The British Parliamentarians were stunned. They had
never heard anyone who could do anything like that, an
American talking about the reign of the British monarchs.
Those of us who were Senators, nothing surprised us that
he could do from memory.
I can remember when he decided he was no longer going to
be the Democratic leader, Senator Dole did an event for
him in the Russell Building, and all the Senators were
there, Democratic and Republican Senators. He told us a
number of things he did not do, and he told us a number of
things he did do. For example, he read the Encyclopedia
Britannica from cover to cover twice. He studied the
dictionary. He read that from cover to cover during one of
I have told this story on an occasion or two, but to
give the depth of this man's memory--I had been to Nevada,
and when I came back, he asked me, ``What did you do?''
I said, ``Senator Byrd, I pulled a book out of my
library on the way back. I didn't have anything to read.
It was a paperback. I read the Adventures of Robinson
And as those of us who can remember him, he looked at me
and he held his head back a little bit and his eyes rolled
back and he said, Robinson Crusoe. He proceeded to tell
me--I had just read the book--how long he had been on that
island: 28 years, 3 months, 1 week, and 2 days, or
whatever it was. I was stunned. I did not know. I went
back and pulled the book out to see if he was right, and
he was right. He probably had not read that book in 35 or
40 years, but he knew that. What a mind. It was really
stunning, the man's memory.
The head of the political science department at the
University of Nevada at Las Vegas, Andy Tuttle, taught a
graduate course, based on Senator Byrd's lectures on the
He gave 10 lectures here on the Senate floor on the fall
of the Roman Empire. He gave a lecture because he was
concerned because of the line-item veto, and he felt the
line-item veto would be the beginning of the end of the
Senate. He proceeded to give 10 lectures on that on the
Senate floor, every one of them from memory. Timed just
perfectly. They ended in 1 hour. That is how much time he
had been given. The original Roman Emperors served for 1
year. He could do it from memory. He knew who they were,
how long they served, knew how to spell their names--truly
an unbelievably brilliant man.
He is the only person who earned his law degree while he
was a Member of Congress. His thirst for knowledge was
simply without equal.
Senator Byrd once observed that the longer he lived, the
better he understood how precious the gift of our time on
I quote Senator Byrd, ``As you get older, you see time
running out. It is irretrievable and irreversible. But one
should never retire from learning and growth.'' Robert
Byrd never retired from anything. He served in the Senate
for more than half a century and in the House of
Representatives for 6 years before that, and he dedicated
every one of those days to strengthening the State and the
Nation he loved so dearly. He never once stopped fighting
for the good people of West Virginia and for the
principles in our founding documents. He was forever
faithful to his constituents, his Constitution, and his
country. He fought for what he thought was right, and when
he was wrong, he was wise enough to admit it, and he did
admit it a few times.
Senator Byrd's ambition was legendary. He took his oath
in this Chamber on January 3, 1959, the same day Alaska
became our 49th State. He told the Charleston Gazette
newspaper in that freshman year, ``If I live long enough,
I'd like to be Chairman of the Senate Appropriations
Committee.'' Thirty years later, he was, and then he lived
and served for 21 more years. His legislative
accomplishments are many, and those achievements fortify
his incomparable legacy. But he is perhaps best known in
this Chamber as the foremost guardian of the Senate's
complex rules, procedures, and customs. He did not concern
himself with such precision as a pastime or mere hobby; he
did so because of the unyielding respect he had for the
Senate--a reverence the Senate always returned to him and
now to his memory.
With Robert Byrd's passing, America has lost its
strongest defender of its most precious traditions. It now
falls to each of us to keep that flame burning.
Throughout one of the longest political careers in
history, no one in West Virginia ever defeated Robert Byrd
in a single election. In Washington, his fellow Democrats
twice elected him to lead us when we were in the majority
and once more when we were in the minority. Having seen
both sides, he knew better than most that legislating is
the art of compromise. Many years ago, in this Chamber
where he served longer than any other Senator, Senator
Byrd taught a heartfelt history lesson to guide our
future. It was a lesson about both the Constitution and
this institution. He said:
This very charter of government under which we live was
created in a spirit of compromise and mutual concession.
And it is only in that spirit that continuance of this
charter of government can be prolonged and sustained.
In his tenure he saw partisanship and bipartisanship,
war and peace, recession and recovery. His perspective and
legacy are invaluable to the way we carry ourselves as
U.S. Senators. It is instructive that the man who served
the longest and saw the most concluded we must work
together as partners, not partisans, for the good of our
States and our country.
In 1996, Robert Byrd spoke to a meeting of incoming
Senators and reminded them that the Senate is still the
anchor of the Republic. Senator Byrd was the anchor of the
Senate. There will never be another like him.
He was a Member of this Nation's Congress for more than
a quarter of the time it has existed, and longer than a
quarter of today's sitting Senators and the President of
the United States have been alive. His political career
spanned countless American advances and achievements. A
dozen men called the Oval Office his own while Senator
Byrd called the Capitol Building his office--and he would
be the first to remind us that those two branches are
equal in the eyes of the Constitution. I have heard him
say so many times that we work with the President, not
under the President.
The nine times the people of his State sent him to the
Senate and the more than 18,500 votes he cast here will
never be matched.
As the President pro tempore and I, and each of us
fortunate enough to be here, have the privilege of knowing
first hand, it was an incomparable privilege to serve with
him and learn from this giant. By virtue of his endurance,
Robert Byrd knew and worked with many of the greats of the
Senate. Because of his enduring virtue, he will be forever
remembered as one of them.
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I too wish to say a few
words about our departed colleague. The first thing to say
is that we are sorry, first and foremost, to the family
and also to the staff of Senator Byrd for their loss. The
next thing to say is that it is a sad day for the Senate.
Everybody who has been here for a while has a few Robert
Byrd stories. A couple come to mind I thought I would
Along with Senator Reid and Senator Dodd, Senator Byrd,
in the early part of the decade, responded to my request
to come down to the University of Louisville, my alma
mater, to speak to the students and to a broader audience.
At his age and particularly given the fact that I was a
member of the opposition party, there was, frankly, no
particular reason for him to do that. But he did and made
an extraordinary impression on the students and
inconvenienced himself on my behalf, which I always
My second--and really my favorite--recollection of
Senator Byrd, I found myself a few years ago in a curious
position, at variance with virtually everybody on my side
of the aisle. I had reflexively, as I think many Members
had, responded negatively to a decision of the U.S.
Supreme Court in the late 1980s essentially holding that
flag burning was a permissible First Amendment expression
of political speech. The first time that amendment came
before the Senate, I voted for it. Then I began to have
some pangs of discomfort about my position. Having spent a
good portion of my political career focusing on political
speech and the First Amendment, I, frankly, decided I was
wrong and in subsequent votes have opposed it.
A few years ago, it became clear it was going to be
defeated in the Senate by the narrowest of margins. I
remembered that Senator Byrd was always carrying around a
Constitution in his pocket and had a feeling that upon
reflection, he might reach the same conclusion I did. So I
lobbied Senator Byrd. I thought initially it would be a
futile act, but he reexamined his position. As a result,
he too changed his position, and as it turns out, there
was not a vote to spare the last time the Senate
considered whether it would be appropriate to amend the
First Amendment for the first time in the history of the
country to kind of carve a niche out of it to make it
possible to punish an act we all find despicable. But,
nevertheless, the most unfortunate of speech is probably
what the First Amendment was all about initially. So
Senator Byrd did change his position. There was not a vote
to spare, and the amendment was defeated. And from my
point of view, the First Amendment was saved on that
We will all remember Senator Byrd for a variety of
different things. As the majority leader pointed out, he
was a unique individual in so many different ways. Those
are two of my favorite stories about Robert Byrd.
More than anyone else in any of our lifetimes, Robert
Byrd embodied the Senate. He not only wrote the book on
it, he was a living repository of its rules, its customs,
and its prerogatives. So it would be a mistake to think
that Senator Byrd became synonymous with the Senate simply
because he served in it longer than anybody else. Rather,
it was a fitting coincidence that a man who cherished and
knew this place so well would become its longest serving
Yet it is probably true that he will be remembered above
all for his longevity.
Everyone seems to have a different way of communicating
just how long a time he spent here. For me, it is enough
to note that Robert Byrd had already spent nearly 12 years
serving in elected office in West Virginia and in the
House of Representatives before he was elected to the U.S.
Senate during the Eisenhower administration.
Over the years, he would walk the floor with 4 future
Presidents, 4 of the 12 he would serve alongside in a 57-
year career in Congress. I won't enumerate all the
legislative records Senator Byrd held, but I would venture
to say that the figure that probably made him proudest of
all was the nearly 70 years of marriage he spent with a
coal miner's daughter named Erma.
If he was synonymous with the Senate, he was no less
synonymous with West Virginia. Here is how popular Robert
Byrd was in his home State: In the year Robert Byrd was
first elected to the U.S. Senate, 1958, he won with 59
percent of the vote, a margin that most people around here
would consider a landslide. In a record nine Senate
elections, it was the smallest margin of victory he would
Members will offer tributes of their own in the coming
I will close with this. Last year, in becoming the
longest serving Member of Congress in history, Senator
Byrd surpassed another legendary figure, Carl Hayden of
Arizona. Hayden was known to many as the ``silent
Senator,'' a phrase few would use to describe Senator
But what the two men shared was a devotion to the United
States and, in particular, to the legislative branch of
our Government, which the founders envisioned and
established as coequal with the other two.
A few years ago, Senator Byrd's official portrait was
unveiled at an event in the Old Senate Chamber. And I
think that portrait pretty well sums up the image Senator
Byrd wanted to leave of himself. It is the image of a
dignified man, in the classical mold, supported by three
things: the Bible, the U.S. Constitution, and his wife. A
lot of people looked at Senator Byrd's record-long tenure
in Congress, his immense knowledge of poetry, history, and
the Senate, and wondered where he got the strength. With
this painting, he gave us the answer. He showed us the
As I noted at that ceremony, Senator Byrd once wrote
that if the question was whether to be loved or respected,
he always chose to be respected. Yet his real
accomplishment is that, in the end, he managed to be both.
So I join my colleagues, my fellow Americans, the people
of West Virginia, and the Byrd family today in remembering
our colleague. We will surely miss him.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.
Mr. ROCKEFELLER. Mr. President, on this day, West
Virginia has lost probably its most prominent son and the
Senate has lost probably its most able statesman. For
myself, I have lost an admired colleague and a treasured
friend. More than nine decades of a remarkable life and
five decades as an accomplished public servant in the
Senate only serve as one form of proof that Robert C. Byrd
was and always will be an icon, particularly in his own
State. A man of great character, faith, and intellect, who
rose to the heights of power, yet never forgot where he
came from, his story holds a profoundly significant place
in both West Virginia and American history. But it was in
the coalfields of southern West Virginia where a young
Robert C. Byrd first gained the skills, the moral
character, the toughness, and the shrewdness that would
make him a truly great man.
After his mother passed away, he was raised by his aunt
and uncle, a coal miner, he movingly called ``the most
remarkable man I have ever been privileged to know.'' From
them Senator Byrd learned early in life what it meant to
be loyal, to have a ferocious work ethic, really almost
beyond imagination, and possess a deep faith in God. And
it was these values--these innately West Virginia values,
I argue--that guided his every action and made him such a
unique and strong fighter for our State and who got such
joy in doing that fight.
He was proud of West Virginia. He was proud of his
ideals. He was proud of the service he could render to the
people from whom he came. He believed with all his heart
that our breathtaking mountains, our rivers, and our deep
valleys, and especially our well-rooted people, who face
adversity always and face it with strength and courage,
make our State a place like none other in the world.
He loved the music of the mountains and played his
fiddle, in fact, very brilliantly. He was a master violin
player. He loved to quote the ancients, lending depth to
his analysis and observations, with knowledge of history
and philosophy to rival any professor. Just as easily as
he could quote Cicero from memory, he could sing every
verse of ``Amazing Grace'' from memory, too, and often
Everything about Senator Byrd was a testament to his
faith in God. This man, who wrote and debated countless
laws, lived with 10 clear Commandments in his heart. His
aunt and uncle kept the King James Bible in their home and
instilled in him an enduring reverence for God. He always
remembered that as important as the Senate and our
constitutional government might be, there was always a
higher law that took precedence.
He started his career humbly by any definition--as a
butcher, a welder, other things too--and then campaigned
by playing his foot-stomping music, the fiddle, to get
elected to the West Virginia Legislature--that is how he
did it--the very same body that decades later would deem
him the ``West Virginian of the 20th Century.''
It was at Mark Twain High School where a lifetime of
love first began for Robert C. Byrd and his future wife,
Erma Ora James. Calling her the ``wind beneath this Byrd's
wings,'' as he put it, Senator Byrd was never shy to tell
you that Erma--a beloved coal miner's daughter herself--
was the reason he reached all of his goals. He believed
that with all of his heart. So from the fiddle-playing
young man to a history-making American icon, she loved and
supported him every step of the way until her passing in
I know and I observed maybe earlier than some that
Senator Byrd lost just a bit when Erma died. Watching him
hurting was painful. His wife died from the same disease
my mother died from; that is, Alzheimer's, and we talked
about it, especially a few years ago when he was talking
more frequently. I always felt bad that I could not give
him comfort and that I could not say something to him that
would relinquish his pain, which was evident and obvious--
very obvious in private. But I could not do that because
you cannot do that for diseases like that one. There were
not words to describe the difficulty such a devastating
loss can bring, and I commend my friend for continuing on
so strongly--as he did--for so long.
Erma was his soulmate, his best friend, and trusted
counselor. Their marriage was something to behold. My wife
Sharon and I loved watching them together. He became a
different person. They radiated an extraordinary faith in
God, in each other, and in the beautiful family they built
together, which in the end was what he loved the most.
Indeed, it was the time Robert Byrd spent with Erma; their
daughters, Mona and Marjorie, their husbands, and their
grandchildren and great-grandchildren that brought sheer
joy, pure unadulterated joy, to his life. So with sadness
in my heart, I also have joy at the thought of my friend
united with his precious Erma and with his dear grandson
he lost at a young age. We all know, those of us who have
been here for several years, the agony he went through at
the death of that young man, setting up a shrine in his
office. It affected him deeply. It was interesting that a
man who could be so oriented toward policy could be so
utterly moved by sadness in his own life and I think in
the lives of others.
It was in the Halls of the U.S. Senate where Robert C.
Byrd became known as the ``Soul of the Senate,'' a fierce
defender of the Constitution, a respected historian, and
an absolutely fearless legislator. He held, as has been
said many times before, more leadership posts than any
other Senator, cast more votes than any other Senator, and
served longer than any other Senator. And one could go on
in many ways in that theme. He literally wrote the
authoritative book on the rules and procedures of the
Senate. He taught all of us who were freshmen in this body
about that in classes which he would conduct standing in
the well of the Senate. He loved and he revered this
institution. Everybody says that. It is true.
Some people pass through this institution. They
experience this institution. He lived this institution.
Yet, still, his entire career was fundamentally an act of
commitment to the State of West Virginia and its people, a
day-in and day-out effort to do the best he possibly could
for the people of the Mountain State; always put upon,
often looked down upon, even disdained by others who did
not understand where they came from, what their lives were
like, and, for example, what it was like to be a coal
miner. People do not understand West Virginia well. Most
people do not go there. Senator Byrd sprung from West
Virginia and, yes, was an intensely devoted statesman.
He put himself through law school while also serving in
Congress. I know a few others have done that, but I just
sort of deny that. I think it is amazing that Senator Byrd
did that; therefore, any others who did it do not get my
He understood that people with the fortitude to ask
questions and to debate and to dissent one from another
makes America stronger. He had that courage himself,
standing up time and time again to defend the ideals upon
which our Nation was founded. And often those ideas were
very different from those of others. No matter with
Senator Byrd; he always spoke for what he felt was
As the minority leader has pointed out, the Senator
always had the Constitution in his pocket, close to his
heart. And he outlasted Presidents and Supreme Court
Justices. He served with an absolute insistence on the
equality of the three branches of government as envisioned
by our Founding Fathers, and he, therefore, helped us as a
body be more than our separate parts. He spread the words
of our Constitution to young children and his colleagues
alike. His patriotism was strong and confident, infusing
his every action with deep devotion for our Nation and its
A Senator from a State that has sent legions of sons and
daughters to war--out of courage, out of love of country,
sometimes just out of a need to get work--he supported our
troops whether he agreed with their cause or not, fought
for our veterans, and worked hard to make sure those who
served our country got the respect, the support, the
supplies they needed and they deserved.
He also earned the loyalty of West Virginians with a
record of support for education and economic opportunity
that few Senators, at any time, in any State, in my
judgment, could ever match. To him, every school building
or education grant was a chance for a better life for some
West Virginia child or maybe quite a lot of children. He
cared about that, and he helped that become true.
Every overpass, every road represented an opportunity
for a more dynamic economy for our cities and towns, which
might be taken casually in some places but not in West
Virginia because only 4 percent of our land is flat, and
unless there is a road or a bridge, you cannot build
anything anywhere or virtually do anything anywhere. Every
business park or government office meant the possibility
of a better job for West Virginians trying to raise their
families--people he fought for all his life.
Senator Byrd also believed health care is one of the
most important ways to strengthen a community, and his
support for medical research resulted in breakthrough
medical opportunities. He spread this research all across
West Virginia, to West Virginia University, to Marshall
University, to institutions of all kinds. He believed in
medical research and did more than most of our colleagues
So in a State with rugged terrain, full of people like
the family who raised him, doing their best for their
family, for their country, for their God, Robert C. Byrd
decided that somebody needed to do the best for them, and
he did so each and every day of his life.
To me, he was a perfect colleague and a reliable friend,
a walking example of the kind of America I believe in, and
a living testament to the values that made West Virginia
my own home forever. It has been my greatest privilege to
serve with Robert C. Byrd in the U.S. Senate. I respected
him and I fought side by side with him for causes we both
believed in, and obviously I am profoundly saddened that
he is gone.
So in closing, Mr. President, I think he leaves a void
that probably cannot be filled. But I am lifted by the
knowledge of his deep and abiding faith and that he is in
the hands of the One who inspired these words in ``Amazing
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
I think that gives all of us some comfort. It certainly
So peace and Godspeed, Senator Byrd, and peace to your
family, your loyal staff, and to the loving people of West
Virginia, who held you high for so long and will continue
to do so.
I thank the Chair and yield my time.
Mr. DODD. Mr. President, let me begin by expressing my
deep sorrow and my condolences to Robert C. Byrd's family.
And that family includes, obviously, not only his direct,
immediate family but obviously the literally legions of
people who worked for Robert C. Byrd--worked with him in
both the House of Representatives and this body for the
more than five decades he served in the U.S. Congress.
I suspect I am one of a handful of people left who
remember the day when I was 8 years old, in the gallery of
the House of Representatives, watching my father be sworn
in as a new Congressman, watching my father and a young
35-year-old West Virginian named Robert C. Byrd be sworn
in as a Member of the House on January 3, 1953. Six years
later, at the age of 14, I was in the gallery of this
Chamber when I watched my father and his great friend be
sworn in together on January 3, 1959, as Members of the
Senate. Two-and-a-half years later, as a 17 year old
sitting on the very steps where these young pages sit
today, in the summer of 1961, I worked with Robert C.
Byrd. In fact, with his departure and his death, he is now
the last remaining Member of the Senate who was there that
day when I first arrived as a page in summer 1961 when all
these chairs were filled by 100 Senators. For the last 25
years, I have sat next to him at this very seat to be the
recipient of his good counsel, his advice, his humor, his
contributions in so many ways to me, as he was to so many
others with whom he served during his tenure in the
So this is a very poignant day, one that begins, in a
sense, a sense of bookmarks to me and a sense of public
life. It won't be the same for the remaining 6 or 7 months
of my tenure here to not have this wonderful human being,
Robert C. Byrd, as my seatmate in the Senate.
So I rise today to mark the passing and to celebrate the
prolific life of Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia. As I
have said to his family and to his staff, and, of course,
to the people of West Virginia, for whom he has been such
a champion throughout his public life, Robert Byrd loved
three things above all else during the 30 years we spent
together in this Chamber. He loved his wife Erma, he loved
the State of West Virginia, and he loved deeply the
Senate. I might say that each in turn loved him back.
Our sadness at his passing is tempered by our joy that
he now joins his beloved Erma. What a love story it was.
They met in high school. They married in 1937, well before
I was even born. They spent nearly 70 years on an
incredible journey together, and even after passing a few
years ago, his love for her was apparent in everything he
In 1946, when Robert Byrd first ran for office, West
Virginia ranked at the bottom in nearly every economic
indicator you could possibly think of. It was a bleak
landscape pockmarked by coalfields and populated by hard-
working people from hardscrabble backgrounds and
communities struggling to make ends meet.
Then a young grocer from the town of Sophia arrived on
the scene, asking his neighbors in those communities
around Sophia for their votes in his race for the West
Virginia House of Delegates. As the Washington Post noted
in its obituary this morning, Robert C. Byrd met nearly
every person--I would suspect every person--in his
district, campaigning alone, with no one else, talking
about the issues he cared about and those that would
affect and did affect the people he wanted to represent;
and when all else failed, wowing potential voters with his
He won that election, as he would every single
election--every single election for which he ever ran. The
people of West Virginia never could say no to Robert C.
Byrd, and he could never say no to them. As a State
legislator, a Congressman, and as a Senator, Robert C.
Byrd fought for West Virginians, and our Nation, I might
add, at every single turn.
If you travel the State of West Virginia today, you will
see his name on schools and bridges and highway signs. You
will perceive his influence when you see the government
buildings and research laboratories he brought to West
Virginia--investments that contributed to the State, to
our national economy, and to our Nation. But don't just
look for his name on the sides of buildings or overpasses.
Listen for it in the appreciative words of his
constituents, his extended family, and of a grateful
Nation for his service.
No State has ever had such a deep appreciation for the
Senate Appropriations Committee because no State has ever
had such an effective appropriator and fighter. Robert C.
Byrd came to Congress with my father, as I pointed out, in
January 1953, and they both arrived in the Senate on the
same day as they had in the House, on January 3, 1959. In
summer 1961, I mentioned I was a Senate page sitting on
the Senate floor. I still remember the eloquent speeches
of the freshman Senator from West Virginia.
It is incredible to imagine that he was once a freshman
Senator. Even then, he had the same gentlemanly manner; he
was kind to pages, as I recall, the same knack for
triumphant oratory, and the same respect for the rules and
traditions of the Senate. But he soon became a fixture and
a mentor to new Senators as well. I expect that over the
next few days many Senators will take this floor with a
Constitution in their pockets, as I do, that they received
from Robert C. Byrd. Here is my tattered and rather worn
copy signed by Robert C. Byrd: ``To my friend, Chris Dodd,
with great personal esteem. Sincerely, Robert C. Byrd.'' I
have carried this with me every day of my life for the
last quarter of a century, given to me by my colleague in
this Chamber, along, I might add, with a stern but kind
lecture about Senate protocol. I have mine right here, as
I said. It is a tattered and withered copy after this many
For the past quarter of a century I have occupied some
prime real estate on the floor of the Senate. This desk
right next to me today, adorned with these flowers and
this black cape, marks the seat Robert C. Byrd sat in for
many years. As have all of us, I have been awed by his
deep knowledge of this institution and his deeper
commitment to preserving its place in our legislative
So, in many ways, Robert Byrd's story is one of
constancy, of preservation, and of tradition. You could
define his life by longevity, I suppose--his 69 years of
marriage, his more than 51 years of service in the Senate,
his 64 years of public service to the people of West
Virginia. But he wouldn't have wanted it that way. This
country has changed over the many years in which Robert C.
Byrd helped to lead it and to shape it, and he grew and
changed with it, I might add. His story in so many ways
parallels the American story over these many years--the
story of a Nation on a long and difficult journey, always
trying to seek that more perfect union that our Founders
described more than two centuries ago.
He wouldn't have wanted us to forget about the positions
and affiliations that marked the early part of his life
and career, and he did not as well. We should learn from
our mistakes, as he did, draw inspiration from his
journey, and credit him, I might add, for being willing to
admit wrong and embrace right when he had the opportunity
to do so, because, like our country, Robert C. Byrd grew
wiser as he grew older.
So we can remember him not only as a tremendously
effective legislator, not only as a powerful speaker, not
only as a parliamentary wizard, but also as a human being
who fought for equality with the true sense of urgency of
a convert. He was a man unafraid of reflection, a man who
voted to make Martin Luther King's birthday a Federal
holiday because, as he put it--I remember him saying it so
well--``I'm the only one who must vote for this bill.''
Here was a man unafraid of progress, a man who, in one
of his final acts in the Senate, voted to overturn the
``don't ask, don't tell rule'' in our military. Here was a
man unafraid of conscience, a man who, as the guns of war
prepared to fire in 2003, delivered one of history's most
courageous and memorable pleas for peace.
So let us not remember Robert C. Byrd for how much he
stayed the same throughout his life. Let us remember him
for how the years changed him, and how he changed America
for the better through so many years of his service.
Let us remember him as West Virginia's greatest
champion, the Senate's gentlemanly scholar, Erma's
husband, and above all, a true friend to each and every
one of us who knew and loved him so well.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, in 1981, after a
surprising election, the Republican leader, Howard Baker,
became the majority leader of the Senate, and the
Democratic leader, Robert C. Byrd, became the minority
According to Senator Baker, he walked to Senator Byrd's
office and said to him, ``Bob, I will never know the
Senate rules as well as you do, so I will make you an
offer. I will not surprise you if you will never surprise
Senator Byrd looked at Senator Baker and said, ``Let me
think about it.''
The next morning, Senator Byrd called Senator Baker and
said, ``It is a deal.'' And that is the way they operated
the Senate in those 4 years when Senator Baker was the
majority leader and Senator Byrd was the minority leader.
They operated the Senate during that time under an
agreement where Senator Byrd was careful to try to give
every Senator the right of amendment. He thought that was
very important. In return, Senator Byrd was able to get
unanimous consent agreements on amendments that many
Senators thought were frivolous or unnecessary or not
germane, which permitted him and Senator Baker to have a
fairly orderly management of the Senate during that time.
Senator McConnell a few minutes ago talked about the
time Senator Byrd reexamined the Constitution and changed
his mind on the First Amendment and flag burning. Senator
Byrd and Senator Baker during that time both read David
McCullough's book and changed their minds on the Panama
Canal Treaty, at great political cost to both of them. I
bring this up today because I never saw Senator Byrd,
after I was elected to the Senate a few years ago, when he
did not ask me about his friend and colleague Howard
We will miss Senator Byrd's fiddling and his love of
mountain music. He campaigned in Tennessee a long time ago
for Albert Gore, Sr., who was running for the Senate and
who also played the fiddle. Senator Byrd played the fiddle
at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and came back to
Nashville in October 2008 and sang along with a group of
fiddlers who were playing songs at his request. I went
over there with him. He knew all the songs and all the
fiddlers knew him. A few days later I came to him on the
Senate floor and talked to him about an old mountain song
called ``Wreck on the Highway'' that Roy Acuff made famous
in the 1930s or 1940s, and Senator Byrd began to sing the
song--he knew all the words--so loudly that the staff was
afraid the galleries would all notice it.
We will miss his love of U.S. history, not just any U.S.
history, but in his words ``traditional American
history.'' He was the sponsor of the Teaching Traditional
American History Program, which is part of the Elementary
and Secondary Education Act. He has provided nearly $600
million to 1,000 local school districts to improve the
professional development of American history teachers. He
and the late Senator Kennedy and I were working on a piece
of legislation which we have introduced to consolidate all
the Federal programs that support the teaching of U.S.
history, hoping that our children can grow up learning
what it means to be an American.
Senator Byrd is also responsible for the celebration of
September 17 as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.
Senator Byrd had no time for revisionists who didn't
believe America was exceptional. He believed this is one
country, unified by a common language and a few
principles. He did not want our country to become a United
Nations, but always to be the United States of America. He
wanted us to be proud of where we came from, but prouder
to be American.
We will especially miss Senator Byrd's love of and
understanding of the Senate. One of the most special
occasions I ever experienced was the opportunity as a
freshman Senator in 2003 to attend an indoctrination, one
might say--or orientation would be the proper
description--on what it means to be a Senator. Senator
Byrd began by saying, ``You are presently occupying what I
consider to be hallowed ground.''
I wish to ask unanimous consent to have printed in the
Record following my remarks the remarks of Senator Byrd at
the orientation of new Senators on December 3, 1996.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so
(See exhibit 1, next page.)
Mr. ALEXANDER. Senator Byrd served long enough to know
that, as he put it, ``As long as the Senate retains the
power to amend and the power of unlimited debate, the
liberties of the people will remain secure.'' He believed
that when he was lecturing Republicans in 2005 who were
trying to change the rules when there was a controversy
about President Bush's appointees to the Federal
judiciary, and he said the same thing to young Democrats
who grew impatient this year and wanted to change the
rules to limit unlimited amendment and unlimited debate.
Perhaps his last Senate appearance was before the Rules
Committee on May 19, 2010, where his opening statement on
the filibuster and its consequences warned against a rules
I ask unanimous consent to have that statement printed
in the Record following my remarks.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so
(See exhibit 2, page 24.)
Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I was 12 years old when
Senator Robert Byrd was elected to the House of
Representatives. I was a senior in Maryville, TN, when he
was elected to the Senate. When I came here as a Senate
aide 42 years ago, he had just been elected to his second
term and was working his way up the party leadership.
He was an imposing man. He had a wonderful photographic
memory. But, after one got to know him especially, he was
a kind man.
All of us can be replaced, but it is fair to say the
Senate will never be the same place without Robert C.
I yield the floor.
Remarks by U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd at the Orientation
of New Senators, December 3, 1996
Good afternoon and welcome to the U.S. Senate Chamber.
You are presently occupying what I consider to be
You will shortly join the ranks of a very select group
of individuals who have been honored with the title of
U.S. Senator since 1789 when the Senate first convened.
The Creator willing, you will be here for at least 6
Make no mistake about it, the Office of U.S. Senator is
the highest political calling in the land. The Senate can
remove from office Presidents, members of the Federal
judiciary, and other Federal officials, but only the
Senate itself can expel a Senator.
Let us listen for a moment to the words of James Madison
on the role of the Senate.
These [reasons for establishing the Senate] were
first to protect the people against their rulers:
secondly to protect the people against the transient
impression into which they themselves might be led
[through their representatives in the lower house].
A people deliberating in a temperate moment, and
with the experience of other nations before them, on
the plan of government most likely to secure their
happiness, would first be aware, that those charged
with the public happiness, might betray their trust.
An obvious precaution against this danger would be
to divide the trust between different bodies of men,
who might watch and check each other ... . It would
next occur to such a people, that they themselves
were liable to temporary errors, through want of
information as to their true interest, and that men
chosen for a short term [House members], ... might
err from the same cause. This reflection would
naturally suggest that the Government be so
constituted, as that one of its branches might have
an opportunity of acquiring a competent knowledge of
the public interests. Another reflection equally
becoming a people on such an occasion, would be that
they themselves, as well as a numerous body of
Representatives, were liable to err also, from
fickleness and passion. A necessary fence against
this danger would be to select a portion of
enlightened citizens, whose limited number, and
firmness might seasonably interpose against
impetuous councils. [emphasis added]
Ladies and gentlemen, you are shortly to become part of
that all-important, ``necessary fence,'' which is the U.S.
Senate. Let me give you the words of Vice President Aaron
Burr upon his departure from the Senate in 1805. ``This
house,'' said he, ``is a sanctuary; a citadel of law, of
order, and of liberty; and it is here--it is here, in this
exalted refuge; here, if anywhere, will resistance be made
to the storms of political phrensy and the silent arts of
corruption; and if the Constitution be destined ever to
perish by the sacrilegious hand of the demagogue or the
usurper, which God avert, its expiring agonies will be
witnessed on this floor.'' Gladstone referred to the
Senate as ``that remarkable body--the most remarkable of
all the inventions of modern politics.''
This is a very large class of new Senators. There are 15
of you. It has been 16 years since the Senate welcomed a
larger group of new Members. Since 1980, the average size
class of new members has been approximately 10. Your
backgrounds vary. Some of you may have served in the
executive branch. Some may have been staffers here on the
Hill. Some of you have never held Federal office before.
Over half of you have had some service in the House of
Let us clearly understand one thing. The Constitution's
Framers never intended for the Senate to function like the
House of Representatives. That fact is immediately
apparent when one considers the length of a Senate term
and the staggered nature of Senate terms. The Senate was
intended to be a continuing body. By subjecting only one-
third of the Senate's membership to reelection every 2
years, the Constitution's Framers ensured that two-thirds
of the membership would always carry over from one
Congress to the next to give the Senate an enduring
The Senate and, therefore, Senators were intended to
take the long view and to be able to resist, if need be,
the passions of the often intemperate House. Few, if any,
upper Chambers in the history of the Western World have
possessed the Senate's absolute right to unlimited debate
and to amend or block legislation passed by a lower House.
Looking back over a period of 208 years, it becomes
obvious that the Senate was intended to be significantly
different from the House in other ways as well. The
constitutional Framers gave the Senate the unique
executive powers of providing advice and consent to
Presidential nominations and to treaties, and the sole
power to try and to remove impeached officers of the
government. In the case of treaties, the Senate, with its
longer terms, and its ability to develop expertise through
the device of being a continuing body, has often performed
I have said that as long as the Senate retains the power
to amend and the power of unlimited debate, the liberties
of the people will remain secure.
The Senate was intended to be a forum for open and free
debate and for the protection of political minorities. I
have led the majority and I have led the minority, and I
can tell you that there is nothing that makes one fully
appreciate the Senate's special role as the protector of
minority interests like being in the minority. Since the
Republican Party was created in 1854, the Senate has
changed hands 14 times, so each party has had the
opportunity to appreciate first hand the Senate's role as
guardian of minority rights. But, almost from its earliest
years the Senate has insisted upon its Members' right to
virtually unlimited debate.
When the Senate reluctantly adopted a cloture rule in
1917, it made the closing of debate very difficult to
achieve by requiring a super majority and by permitting
extended post-cloture debate. This deference to minority
views sharply distinguishes the Senate from the
majoritarian House of Representatives. The Framers
recognized that a minority can be right and that a
majority can be wrong. They recognized that the Senate
should be a true deliberative body--a forum in which to
slow the passions of the House, hold them up to the light,
examine them, and, through informed debate, educate the
public. The Senate is the proverbial saucer intended to
cool the cup of coffee from the House. It is the one place
in the whole government where the minority is guaranteed a
public airing of its views. Woodrow Wilson observed that
the Senate's informing function was as important as its
legislating function, and now, with televised Senate
debate, its informing function plays an even larger and
more critical role in the life of our Nation.
Many a mind has been changed by an impassioned plea from
the minority side. Important flaws in otherwise good
legislation have been detected by discerning minority
Members engaged in thorough debate, and important
compromise which has worked to the great benefit of our
Nation has been forged by an intransigent Member
determined to filibuster until his views were accommodated
or at least seriously considered.
The Senate is often soundly castigated for its
inefficiency, but in fact, it was never intended to be
efficient. Its purpose was and is to examine, consider,
protect, and to be a totally independent source of wisdom
and judgment on the actions of the lower House and on the
executive. As such, the Senate is the central pillar of
our constitutional system. I hope that you, as new Members
will study the Senate in its institutional context because
that is the best way to understand your personal role as a
U.S. Senator. Your responsibilities are heavy. Understand
them, live up to them, and strive to take the long view as
you exercise your duties. This will not always be easy.
The pressures on you will, at times, be enormous. You
will have to formulate policies, grapple with issues,
serve the constituents in your State, and cope with the
media. A Senator's attention today is fractured beyond
belief. Committee meetings, breaking news, fundraising,
all of these will demand your attention, not to mention
personal and family responsibilities. But, somehow, amidst
all the noise and confusion, you must find the time to
reflect, to study, to read, and, especially, to understand
the absolutely critically important institutional role of
May I suggest that you start by carefully reading the
Constitution and the Federalist Papers. In a few weeks,
you will stand on the platform behind me and take an oath
to ``support and defend the Constitution of the United
States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; to bear
true faith and allegiance to the same; and take this
obligation freely, without any mental reservation or
purpose of evasion; and to well and faithfully discharge
the duties of the office on which you are about to enter:
So help you God.''
Note especially the first 22 words, ``I do solemnly
swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of
the United States against all enemies, foreign and
In order to live up to that solemn oath, one must
clearly understand the deliberately established inherent
tensions between the three branches, commonly called the
checks and balances, and separation of powers which the
Framers so carefully crafted. I carry a copy of the
Constitution in my shirt pocket. I have studied it
carefully, read and reread its articles, marveled at its
genius, its beauty, its symmetry, and its meticulous
balance, and learned something new each time that I
partook of its timeless wisdom. Nothing will help you to
fully grasp the Senate's critical role in the balance of
powers like a thorough reading of the Constitution and the
Now I would like to turn for a moment to the human side
of the Senate, the relationship among Senators, and the
way that even that facet of service here is, to a degree,
governed by the Constitution and the Senate's rules.
The requirement for super majority votes in approving
treaties, involving cloture, removing impeached Federal
officers, and overriding vetoes, plus the need for
unanimous consent before the Senate can even proceed in
many instances, makes bipartisanship and comity necessary
if Members wish to accomplish much of anything. Realize
this. The campaign is over. You are here to be a Senator.
Not much happens in this body without cooperation between
the two parties.
In this now 208-year-old institution, the positions of
majority and minority leaders have existed for less than
80 years. Although the positions have evolved
significantly within the past half century, still, the
only really substantive prerogative the leaders possess is
the right of first recognition before any other Member of
their respective parties who might wish to speak on the
Senate floor. Those of you who have served in the House
will now have to forget about such things as the Committee
of the Whole, closed rules, and germaneness, except when
cloture has been invoked, and become well acquainted with
the workings of unanimous consent agreements. Those of you
who took the trouble to learn Deschler's Procedure will
now need to set that aside and turn in earnest to
Riddick's Senate Procedure.
Senators can lose the floor for transgressing the rules.
Personal attacks on other Members or other blatantly
injudicious comments are unacceptable in the Senate. Again
to encourage a cooling of passions, and to promote a calm
examination of substance, Senators address each other
through the Presiding Officer and in the third person.
Civility is essential here for pragmatic reasons as well
as for public consumption. It is difficult to project the
image of a statesmanlike, intelligent, public servant,
attempting to inform the public and examine issues, if one
is behaving and speaking in a manner more appropriate to a
poolroom brawl than to U.S. Senate debate. You will also
find that overly zealous attacks on other Members or on
their States are always extremely counterproductive, and
that you will usually be repaid in kind.
Let us strive for dignity. When you rise to speak on
this Senate floor, you will be following in the tradition
of such men as Calhoun, Clay, and Webster. You will be
standing in the place of such Senators as Edmund Ross of
Kansas and Peter Van Winkle of West Virginia, 1868, who
voted against their party to save the institution of the
Presidency during the Andrew Johnson impeachment trial.
Debate on the Senate floor demands thought, careful
preparation and some familiarity with Senate rules if we
are to engage in thoughtful and informed debate.
Additionally, informed debate helps the American people
have a better understanding of the complicated problems
which besiege them in their own lives. Simply put, the
Senate cannot inform American citizens without extensive
debate on those very issues.
We were not elected to raise money for our own
reelections. We were not elected to see how many press
releases or TV appearances we could stack up. We were not
elected to set up staff empires by serving on every
committee in sight. We need to concentrate, focus, debate,
inform, and, I hope, engage the public, and thereby forge
consensus and direction. Once we engage each other and the
public intellectually, the tough choices will be easier.
I thank each of you for your time and attention and I
congratulate each of you on your selection to fill a seat
in this august body. Service in this body is a supreme
honor. It is also a burden and a serious responsibility.
Members' lives become open for inspection and are used as
examples for other citizens to emulate. A Senator must
really be much more than hard working, much more than
conscientious, much more than dutiful. A Senator must
reach for noble qualities--honor, total dedication, self-
discipline, extreme selflessness, exemplary patriotism,
sober judgment, and intellectual honesty. The Senate is
more important than any one or all of us--more important
than I am; more important than the majority and minority
leaders; more important than all 100 of us; more important
than all of the 1,843 men and women who have served in
this body since 1789. Each of us has a solemn
responsibility to remember that, and to remember it often.
Let me leave you with the words of the last paragraph of
volume II, of The Senate: 1789-1989: ``Originally
consisting of only twenty-two members, the Senate had
grown to a membership of ninety-eight by the time I was
sworn in as a new senator in January 1959. After two
hundred years, it is still the anchor of the Republic, the
morning and evening star in the American constitutional
constellation. It has had its giants and its little men,
its Websters and its Bilbos, its Calhouns and its
McCarthys. It has been the stage of high drama, of comedy
and of tragedy, and its players have been the great and
the near-great, those who think they are great, and those
who will never be great. It has weathered the storms of
adversity, withstood the barbs of cynics and the attacks
of critics, and provided stability and strength to the
nation during periods of civil strife and uncertainty,
panics and depressions. In war and in peace, it has been
the sure refuge and protector of the rights of the states
and of a political minority. And, today, the Senate still
stands--the great forum of constitutional American
Statement of Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), Senate
Rules and Administration Committee, May 19, 2010
The Filibuster and Its Consequences
On September 30, 1788, Pennsylvania became the first
State to elect its U.S. Senators, one of whom was William
Maclay. In his 1789 journal Senator Maclay wrote, ``I gave
my opinion in plain language that the confidence of the
people was departing from us, owing to our unreasonable
delays. The design of the Virginians and of the South
Carolina gentlemen was to talk away the time, so that we
could not get the bill passed.''
Our Founding Fathers intended the Senate to be a
continuing body that allows for open and unlimited debate
and the protection of minority rights. Senators have
understood this since the Senate first convened.
In his notes of the Constitutional Convention on June
26, 1787, James Madison recorded that the ends to be
served by the Senate were ``first, to protect the people
against their rulers, secondly, to protect the people
against the transient impressions into which they
themselves might be led ... They themselves, as well as a
numerous body of Representatives, were liable to err also,
from fickleness and passion. A necessary fence against
this danger would be to select a portion of enlightened
citizens, whose limited number, and firmness might
seasonably interpose against impetuous councils.'' That
``fence'' was the U.S. Senate.
The right to filibuster anchors this necessary fence.
But it is not a right intended to be abused.
During this 111th Congress in particular, the minority
has threatened to filibuster almost every matter proposed
for Senate consideration. I find this tactic contrary to
each Senator's duty to act in good faith.
I share the profound frustration of my constituents and
colleagues as we confront this situation. The challenges
before our Nation are far too grave, and too numerous, for
the Senate to be rendered impotent to address them, and
yet be derided for inaction by those causing the delay.
There are many suggestions as to what we should do. I
know what we must not do.
We must never, ever, tear down the only wall--the
necessary fence--this Nation has against the excesses of
the executive branch and the resultant haste and tyranny
of the majority.
The path to solving our problem lies in our thoroughly
understanding it. Does the difficulty reside in the
construct of our rules or in the ease of circumventing
A true filibuster is a fight, not a threat or a bluff.
For most of the Senate's history, Senators motivated to
extend debate had to hold the floor as long as they were
physically able. The Senate was either persuaded by the
strength of their arguments or unconvinced by either their
commitment or their stamina. True filibusters were
therefore less frequent, and more commonly discouraged,
due to every Senator's understanding that such
undertakings required grueling personal sacrifice,
exhausting preparation, and a willingness to be criticized
for disrupting the Nation's business.
Now, unbelievably, just the whisper of opposition brings
the ``world's greatest deliberative body'' to a grinding
Because this once highly respected institution has
become overwhelmingly consumed by a fixation with money
Gone are the days when Senators Richard Russell and
Lyndon Johnson, and Speaker Sam Rayburn gathered routinely
for working weekends and couldn't wait to get back to
their Chambers on Monday morning.
Now every Senator spends hours every day, throughout the
year and every year, raising funds for reelection and
appearing before cameras and microphones. Now the Senate
often works 3-day weeks, with frequent and extended recess
periods, so Senators can rush home to fundraisers
scheduled months in advance.
Forceful confrontation to a threat to filibuster is
undoubtedly the antidote to the malady. Most recently,
Senate Majority Leader Reid announced that the Senate
would stay in session around the clock and take all
procedural steps necessary to bring financial reform
legislation before the Senate. As preparations were made
and cots rolled out, a deal was struck within hours and
the threat of filibuster was withdrawn.
I heartily commend the majority leader for this
progress, and I strongly caution my colleagues as some
propose to alter the rules to severely limit the ability
of a minority to conduct a filibuster. I know what it is
to be majority leader, and wake up on a Wednesday morning
in November, and find yourself a minority leader.
I also know that current Senate rules provide the means
to break a filibuster. I employed them in 1977 to end the
post-cloture filibuster of natural gas deregulation
legislation. This was the roughest filibuster I have
experienced during my 50-plus years in the Senate, and it
produced the most bitter feelings. Yet some important new
precedents were established in dealing with post-cloture
obstruction. In 1987, I successfully used rules VII and
VIII to make a non-debatable motion to proceed during the
morning hour. No leader has attempted this technique
since, but this procedure could be and should be used.
Over the years, I have proposed a variety of
improvements to Senate rules to achieve a more sensible
balance allowing the majority to function while still
protecting minority rights. For example, I have supported
eliminating debate on the motion to proceed to a matter
(except for changes to Senate rules), or limiting debate
to a reasonable time on such motions, with Senators
retaining the right to unlimited debate on the matter once
before the Senate. I have authored several other proposals
in the past, and I look forward to our committee work
ahead as we carefully examine other suggested changes. The
committee must, however, jealously guard against efforts
to change or reinterpret the Senate rules by a simple
majority, circumventing rule XXII where a two-thirds
majority is required.
As I have said before, the Senate has been the last
fortress of minority rights and freedom of speech in this
Republic for more than two centuries. I pray that Senators
will pause and reflect before ignoring that history and
tradition in favor of the political priority of the
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, since hearing this morning
about the passing of Senator Byrd--he died shortly after 5
a.m.--I have been reflecting on the man I knew.
Those who have the great privilege to serve in the
Senate have occasion to meet and interact with great
people. The expression ``giant'' is used not too
frequently about Senators. It certainly would apply to
Senator Byrd, but I believe it is insufficient. Searching
my own mind for a more apt term, ``colossus'' might better
fit Robert Byrd.
His career in the Congress of the United States was
extraordinary, really astounding. To think that he was
elected in 1952 and was sworn in while Harry Truman was
still President of the United States and has served since
that time, with many things that happened, during the
administrations of President Eisenhower, President
Kennedy, President Johnson, President Nixon, President
Ford, President Carter, President George H.W. Bush,
President Ronald Reagan before, President George W. Bush,
President Clinton, and now President Obama.
One of the distinctions he made early on was the fact
that in the Senate, we serve with Presidents; we do not
serve under Presidents. I think that was a calling card by
Senator Byrd as a constitutionalist on the separation of
powers. He was a fierce fighter for that separation of
When the line-item veto was passed, he took up the
battle to have it declared unconstitutional, as an
encroachment on article I powers in the U.S. Congress on
appropriations. The bills which we present to the
President have a great many provisions, and Senator Byrd
was looking upon the factor of the President perhaps
taking some provisions he did not like too well in order
to take the whole bill. I am sure on Senator Byrd's mind
was the largess which came to the State of West Virginia.
That is part of our Federal system, part of our democracy,
part of our Constitution of the advantage of seniority,
where Senator Byrd had been elected and reelected on so
I recall Senator Byrd and his swift action shortly after
the 1986 election. I was on the Intelligence Committee at
that time. Senator Byrd stepped into the picture to see to
it that the witnesses who testified on what was later
known as the Iran Contra controversy were placed under
oath. He had a sense that there was a problem that had to
be investigated by Congress, again, under the doctrine of
separation of powers.
I recollect his position on the impeachment proceeding
as he stood at this chair and recited the provisions of
the Constitution, about the impeachment for high crimes
and misdemeanors, and then started to talk about the
action of the respondent in the case, President Clinton,
and the charges which were levied. He came to the
conclusion that the constitutional standard had been met
and then voted not guilty--with a sweep on the conclusion,
a judgment of a higher principle involved that President
Clinton had not lost the capacity to govern, and he ought
to stay in office.
I recall in October 2002 we debated the resolution
authorizing the use of force for President Bush. The
resolution did not say force would be used but gave the
President the authority to use force as he decided it
I was concerned about that. The scholars who had written
on the subject for the most part said it would be an
inappropriate delegation of constitutional authority for
the Congress to say to the President: You may start a war
at some future date.
The starting of a war depended on the facts and
circumstances at hand when the decision was made. Senator
Byrd and I discussed that at some length and finally
concluded there ought to be some flexibility. Both of us
voted for that resolution on the ground that empowering
the President without authority, we might have the
realistic chance of avoiding a war.
While serving with Senator Byrd on the Appropriations
Committee, I recall one year when he chaired the
Appropriations Committee--I think in the late 1980s--the
allocations made were not in accordance with the budget
resolution which had been passed. Some of us on the
Appropriations Committee thought we ought to have those
allocations in accordance with what Congress had set in
the budget resolution. Senator D'Amato, Senator Kasten,
and I staged a minor revolution. It did not last too long.
The vote was 26 to 3. But we expressed ourselves.
I recall hearing Senator Byrd and participated in a
discussion with him on the Senate floor about the right to
retain the floor, whether you could yield to someone or
whether you had to have an order of consent before you
retained your right to the floor. Discussing or debating
Senator Byrd on procedural issues was indeed an education.
He was always regarded as the foremost expert on Senate
procedure and the rules of this body.
His service--most recently in coming in ill, in a
wheelchair for a series of cloture votes at 1 a.m.--
historians, I think, will write about the passage of the
comprehensive health care bill and the cloture votes and
passage in the Senate on Christmas Eve early in the
morning--finally, we had a concession we would not vote at
11:59 on Christmas but would vote earlier in the day. Even
the objectors wanted to leave town. Senator Byrd came here
performing his duty, although he certainly was not well
and it was a tremendous strain on him. He came and made
the 60th vote.
It is a sad occasion to see a black drape on Senator
Byrd's desk and flowers. I am sure in days to come there
will be many comments, many eulogies about Senator Byrd.
He leaves a great void. But reflecting on the experiences
I have had with him, there is much to celebrate in his
life. He was a great American, a great Senator. We will
all miss him very much.
Mr. BURRIS. Mr. President, early this morning, our
country lost an icon and a national treasure. Our friend
and colleague, Senator Robert C. Byrd, became a legend in
his own time. And in many ways, he came to embody the
institution of the Senate.
As a leader, and as a guardian of Senate procedure and
tradition, Senator Byrd was without equal. For more than
half a century, he helped shape Federal policy, and guided
the course of a Nation.
But on the day he was born, in 1917, this unique place
in history was far from assured.
Raised in the coal country of West Virginia, few could
have predicted that this intelligent but unassuming young
man would rise to the very highest levels of our
democracy. He was an avid fiddle player, and valedictorian
of his high school class. But he could not afford to go to
college until many years later. So as a young man, he
found work as a meatcutter, a gas station attendant, and a
store owner. And the store owner is very dear to me
because our family were store owners, and I know how tough
that business is. He welded Liberty and Victory ships
during the Second World War, and several years later
entered politics at the State level.
That is where Robert Byrd found his true calling: public
He was first elected to the House of Representatives in
1952, and has served the people of West Virginia in this
Chamber since 1959. Over the course of his extraordinary
career, he worked alongside 12 Presidents. He served in
Congress longer than anyone in American history, cast more
than 18,000 votes, and was elected to more leadership
positions than any other Senator.
Most recently, he assumed the role of President pro
tempore of the Senate, ranking him third in the line of
Presidential succession. At every turn, he dedicated
himself to the sanctity of our Constitution, and fought to
uphold its principles and the weight of Senate tradition.
It is difficult to measure the vast impact he has had on
the lives of every single American.
No, he was not right on every issue. His past was not
without mistakes and errors in judgment. But it is a
credit to Senator Byrd that, over the years, he gained the
wisdom to recognize the moments when he strayed from the
right path. It is the mark of greatness that he worked
hard to overcome these errors and set America on course
for a more prosperous, more inclusive future.
In recent years, Senator Byrd raised his voice against
the unilateral invasion of Iraq.
He fought to preserve the filibuster, ensuring that the
voice of the minority will always have a place in this
august Chamber. He offered his support to a young Senator
from Illinois named Barack Obama, as he fought to become
the first African-American President of the United States.
Senator Byrd's historic tenure spanned 12
administrations, thousands of bills, and more than half a
century. Thanks to his leadership, and the leadership of
others he has inspired and mentored over the years, we
live in a very different world today.
The year he launched his first campaign for the House of
Representatives, gas cost about 25 cents a gallon, Winston
Churchill was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and I
was only 15 years old.
Senator Byrd has left an indelible mark on this Nation,
and for that we will be forever grateful.
But today, as we remember and celebrate the
contributions he has made, we also offer our condolences
to his friends and loved ones in this time of mourning. We
offer our sympathies to the people of West Virginia, who
have lost a staunch advocate. We offer our fervent hope
that a new generation of Americans, Liberal and
Conservative; Black and White; from all races and
religions and backgrounds, will take up the legacy of
patriotism and service that was left to us by Senator
Byrd; that today's young people will inherit his fierce
loyalty to the Constitution, and recognize their
responsibility to confront every challenge we face.
So I ask my colleagues to join with me in honoring the
life of our dear friend, Senator Robert Byrd.
And I call upon every American to learn from the example
set by this son of the West Virginia hills who overcame
poverty, lack of education, and the prejudice of his times
to become one of the greatest public servants in our
Mr. DORGAN. Madam President, today I rise on the floor
of the Senate recognizing that we have white roses and a
black drape adorning the desk of the late Senator Robert
I had told him personally in the past that when my
service is done I will have considered it a great
privilege to have served in this body at the same time
that Robert Byrd served in this body. He was a lot of
things. He was smart and tough and honest. Because he
legislated and because of his career here, this is a
better country, I am convinced of that.
All of us know Senator Byrd grew old here and became
someone with health problems in recent years and yet even
last week would come to this Chamber and cast his vote. In
recent weeks I had several visits with him on the floor of
All of us know as well that he loved his country. He,
most of all, loved the Senate. He wrote a four-volume book
of history on this body, and I say to anybody listening,
if they enjoy history and enjoy knowing anything about the
wonderful history of this body, read what Senator Byrd has
written. It is extraordinary.
He loved the Constitution of the United States, and he
never appeared on the floor of the Senate without having a
copy of that Constitution in his suit pocket. He always
had a copy of the Constitution with him.
He was also someone who did not just love the history of
the Senate but loved Roman history. I recall sitting on
the floor of the Senate many years ago when I first came
here, listening to Senator Byrd talk about Roman history
and the lessons in it for us.
I learned a lot listening to Senator Byrd on the floor
of the Senate about a lot of things, including Roman
I also learned that he had one of the most extraordinary
memories you have ever known. And I thought today--because
we are saddened but also mourning the loss of a friend and
someone who served this country so well--I would read
something he read on the floor of the Senate a couple of
times, but he read the preamble to it and then recited it
from memory, this great story. He did it because he was
talking about a crime that occurred with respect to a dog,
an animal. He talked a lot about his dog Billy, that he
loved very much, and then he told us the story about a man
named Vest, George G. Vest, who was to become a Senator
I will read what Senator Byrd said. He said:
At the turn of the century, George G. Vest delivered a
deeply touching summation before the jury in the trial
involving the killing of a dog, ``Old Drum.'' This
occurred, I think, in 1869. There were two brothers-in-
law, both of whom had fought in the Union Army. They lived
in Johnson County, Missouri. One was named Leonidas
Hornsby. The other was named Charles Burden.
Burden owned a dog, and he was named ``Old Drum.'' He
was a great hunting dog. Any time that dog barked one
could know for sure that it was on the scent of a raccoon
or other animal.
Leonidas Hornsby was a farmer who raised livestock and
some of his calves and lambs were being killed by animals.
He, therefore, swore to shoot any animal, any dog that
appeared on his property.
One day there appeared on his property a hound. Someone
said, ``There's a dog out there in the yard.'' Hornsby
said, ``Shoot him.''
The dog was killed. Charles Burden, the owner of the
dog, was not the kind of man to take something like this
lightly. He went to court.
This was Old Drum that was killed.
He won his case and was awarded $25. Hornsby appealed,
and, if I recall, on the appeal there was a reversal,
whereupon the owner of the dog decided to employ the best
lawyer that he could find in the area.
He employed a lawyer by the name of George Graham Vest.
This lawyer gave a summation to the jury.
Senator Byrd recited the summation to the jury, and he
did it without a note. It so reminded me of all the things
I heard on the floor from Senator Byrd--yes, The Ambulance
Down in the Valley, a piece of lengthy prose without a
note, and this without a note. He recited the summation to
the jury by George Vest:
Gentlemen of the jury. The best friend a man has in the
world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son
or daughter whom he has reared with loving care may prove
ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those
whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may
become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has
he may lose. It flies away from him perhaps when he needs
it most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment
of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall
on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may
be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure
settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolutely
unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish
world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never
proves ungrateful or treacherous, is the dog.
Gentlemen of the jury, a man's dog stands by him in
prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He
will sleep on the cold ground when the wintry winds blow
and the snow drives fiercely, if only he can be near his
master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to
offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in
encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the
sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince.
When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches
take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as
constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the
heavens. If fortune drives the master forth an outcast
into the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog
asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to
guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies.
And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his
master in its embrace and his body is laid in the cold
ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way,
there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his
head between his paws and his eyes sad but open, in alert
watchfulness, faithful and true, even unto death.
Well, I read this summation to the jury in the case of
Old Drum. But Senator Byrd recited it, as he did in all of
these similar circumstances, completely from memory.
Senator Byrd came to the floor, and he had a way with
words that does not so much exist in the Senate anymore. I
was sitting on the floor one day when another Senator came
to the floor and said some very disparaging things about a
President of the United States. They referred to the
President in a way that was very disparaging. Senator Byrd
did not like that, no matter who the President was. He
came to the floor, and I am sure the person who was
disparaging the President at that point never understood
what had happened to him after Senator Byrd was done.
Mr. LEAHY. I remember that.
Mr. DORGAN. But Senator Byrd came to the floor, and he
stood up, and he said this, ``I have served here long
enough to see pygmies strut like Colossus.'' And he said,
very like the fly in Aesop's fable, sitting on an axle of
a chariot, ``My, what dust I do raise.''
And it occurred to me he had just told someone what they
had done was unbelievably foolish. I am not sure they
understood it. But he wrapped it in such elegant language,
as he always did.
In addition to serving at a time early on in his career
when things were different, when there was perhaps less
anger and less partisanship and committee chairmen and
ranking members got together and decided what we needed to
do for the country and did it together and came to the
floor together, he was also, on the floor of the Senate,
someone who knew the rules. He studied the rules because
he understood that knowing the rules to this Chamber and
how this process works was also important to be successful
Aside from that, he was a skillful legislator--very
skillful. I watched him walk out of this Chamber from that
door and very often stop as a bunch of Senate pages--high
school kids who serve in the Senate--would gather around
and then he would spend 15, 20 minutes telling them a
story about the Senate, about the history of this great
place. Too many of us walk back and forth around here,
walking very briskly because we are late to go here or
there and we are working on a lot of things. Senator Byrd
always took time to talk to the pages--not just talk to
them but tell them stories about what this great Senate
has meant to this great country.
He also loved very much his late wife Erma and talked
about her a lot to many of us.
He loved to play the fiddle. Early on when I came to the
Senate, if you expressed even the least interest in music,
he would get you down to his office and put a tape in his
recording device to show us that he played the fiddle on
the program Hee Haw. He was so proud of that. He was
someone who loved West Virginia, loved his country, and
was a friend to all of us.
Today is a very sad day for those of us who see a desk
that was occupied by a great U.S. Senator for so many
decades, now occupied with a dozen roses and a black
cloth, signifying that we have lost this great man.
America has lost a great public servant. As one Member of
the Senate, I say it has been a great privilege--my great
privilege--to serve while Senator Byrd served in this
Madam President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Vermont.
Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, I appreciate the words of
the Senator from North Dakota. I recall sitting here on
the floor, I tell my friend from North Dakota, who may
well have been here at that time when Senator Byrd spoke
of the pygmies strutting like a Colossus. We both know who
he meant and we both know the effect it had, and I thank
him for reminding us of that.
I believe all of us who served with him and knew Senator
Byrd were saddened by the news of his passing. No Senator
came to care more about the Constitution or was a more
effective defender of our constitutional government than
the senior Senator from West Virginia. How many times did
we see him reach into his jacket pocket and hold up the
Constitution? He would say, ``This is what guides me.''
I said in the Judiciary Committee today that many of us
carry the Constitution and we can turn to it and read from
it. Senator Byrd, if asked, would recite it verbatim from
memory from page 1 straight through.
Senator Byrd was a Senator's Senator. During the time
before he stopped playing, some of us would be at an event
with him where he would play the fiddle. I recall one of
those times when he played the fiddle, and now his
successor as President pro tempore, Senator Inouye, played
the piano, playing compositions only requiring one hand,
and the two of them played in the caucus room now named
after our late Senator Ted Kennedy. I heard him play in
the happy times and the enjoyable times when he would try
to bring Senators of both parties together and act like
I have also sat here with him when he reminded Senators
of what the Constitution stood for, what our role was in
the Constitution, when he spoke against going to war in
Iraq without reason and without a declaration of war. It
was one of the most powerful speeches I have heard him
give. In over 36 years of serving with him, I heard many
Others will speak of his records for time served in the
Senate and in Congress and the number of votes he cast. I
think of him more as a mentor and a friend. I recall in
fall 1974 becoming the Senator-elect and coming down here
to talk to Senators and meeting with Senator Byrd and
Senator Mansfield, Senator Mansfield being the leader,
Senator Byrd the deputy leader. I recall one of the things
he told me--both of them did. ``Always keep your word.''
Robert Byrd, Robert Carlyle Byrd, if he gave you his word,
you could go to the bank with it, but he would expect the
same in return, as he should. That is something all of us
should be reminded of and all of us should seek to
I was honored to sit near him on the Senate floor.
Sitting near him in the same room we would engage in many
discussions about the Senate and the rules or about the
issues of the moment, or about our families. But now I sit
here and I look at the flowers on his desk; I look at the
drape on that desk. Over the many years I have had the
privilege of representing the State of Vermont in this
body, I have had to come on the floor of the Senate to see
the traditional drapery and the flowers on either side of
the aisle when we have lost dear colleagues; more than
that, we have lost dear friends. Party is irrelevant. The
friendship is what is important. It tugs at your heart and
it tugs at your soul to see it. Walking in here and
looking down the row where I sit and seeing that, I don't
know when I have felt the tug so strong.
Marcelle and I were privileged to know Bob and Erma, his
wonderful Erma. We would see them in the grocery store in
Northern Virginia. Our wives would drive in together for
Senate matters. I recall sitting with him in his office
one day when we spoke of the death of his grandson and how
it tore him apart to have lost him in an accident. He had
his portrait in his office with a black drapery. We sat
there--this man who could be so composed--we sat and held
hands while he cried about his grandson. At that time I
did not have the privilege of being a grandfather. Today,
I think I can more fully understand what he went through.
I remember the emotion and the strength of it. This was
not just the person whom we saw often as the leader of the
Senate, the chairman of a major committee, ready and in
control, but a human being mourning somebody very dear to
He was a self-educated man. He learned much throughout
his life, but then he had much to teach us all. It has
been spoken about how he talked to the pages, but he would
talk to anybody about his beloved Senate. He did more than
that. He wrote the definitive history of the Senate. We
all learned from him. He was a symbol of West Virginia. He
was an accomplished legislator. He was an extraordinary
As a form of tribute I suspect Senator Byrd himself
would appreciate--let me quote from Pericles' funeral
oration from Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War
about the inherent strength of democracy. Senator Byrd was
well familiar with this passage, and with its relevance to
our Constitution and our form of government. I heard him
use it before. Pericles is said to have spoken this:
Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with
the institutions of others. Our government does not copy
our neighbors, but is an example to them. It is true that
we are called a democracy, for the administration is in
the hands of the many and not of the few. But while there
exists equal justice to all and alike in their private
disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognized; and
when a citizen is in any way distinguished, he is
preferred to the public service, not as a matter of
privilege, but as a reward of merit. Neither is poverty an
obstacle, but a man may benefit his country whatever the
obscurity of his condition.
Senator Byrd believed in this country. He believed that
a youngster who had been adopted, who lived in a house
without running water, who had to work for every single
thing he obtained, could also rise to the highest
positions in this body, a body he loved more than any
other institution in our government, save one: the
Constitution. The Constitution was his North Star and his
lone star. It was what guided him.
Senator Byrd was such an extraordinary man of merit and
grit and determination who loved his family. I recall him
speaking of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren and
he would proudly tell you about each of them. I remember
even after he was a widower walking by and leaning over
and saying, ``How are you?'' He would say, ``I am fine.
How is Marcelle?'' And Senators from both sides of the
aisle would come just to talk with him.
He drew strength from his deep faith. He took to heart
his oath to support and defend the Constitution of the
United States. The arc of his career in public service is
an inspiration to us all, and it will inspire Americans of
generations to come.
So, Robert, I say goodbye to you, my dear friend. I am
not going to forget your friendship. I am not going to
forget how you mentored me. But, especially, I will not
forget, and I will always cherish even after I leave this
body, your love of the Senate.
Senator Byrd, you are one of a kind.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.
Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, Members of the Senate are
coming to the floor today from both sides of the aisle to
acknowledge a moment in our history: the passing of Robert
C. Byrd of West Virginia. Senator Byrd was the longest
serving Senator in the history of the United States of
America; a man who cast more than 18,000 votes; a man who
served as majority leader, as chairman of the
Appropriations Committee, as President pro tempore. He
was, in fact, the Senate. He embodied the Senate in his
life. It was his life.
Each of us, before we can become a Senator, takes a walk
down this aisle and goes over to the side here where the
Vice President of the United States swears us in. You put
your hand on a Bible and you take an oath to uphold and
defend the Constitution of the United States. You have to
say that or you can't be a Senator. For many people, it is
a formality. For Robert C. Byrd, it was a commitment, a
life commitment to a document, the Constitution of the
United States. He used to carry one in his pocket every
day of his life. That is the kind of commitment most
people will not make because they think: Well, maybe I
will change my mind. For Robert C. Byrd, there was no
changing his mind. He was committed to that Constitution.
For him, it was the North Star, it was the guiding
light, it was the document that created this Nation, and
he had sworn on his Bible to uphold and defend it, and he
meant it. That is why he was so extraordinary.
He understood this Constitution because he understood
what our government is about. He made a point of saying
whenever a new President would come in, even a President
of his own party: I will work with the President but as a
Senator; I do not work for the President. We are equal to
the President because we are an equal branch of
government. I will be glad to work with the President, but
I have a responsibility as a Senator.
I remember so well in what I consider to be the finest
hour I witnessed when it came to Robert C. Byrd. It was in
October 2002. It was a little over a year after 9/11.
President George W. Bush was asking this Senate to vote
for a resolution to invade Iraq. At the time, the pressure
was building. Public sentiment was strongly in favor.
Remember, there was talk about weapons of mass
destruction, nuclear weapons, attacks on our allies and
friends, even on the United States if we did not move, and
move quickly. There was a prevailing growing sentiment to
go to war.
But the Senator from West Virginia stood up, took out
his Constitution, and said, ``This is a mistake. We should
not be going to war.''
He proceeded day after day, week after week, and month
after month to stand there at that desk and lead the
charge against the invasion of Iraq. It was an amazing
display of his talent, which was prodigious, and his
commitment to this Constitution as he saw it, and the fact
that he was politically fearless.
I agreed with him on that issue. I was inspired by him
on that issue. I can recall when my wife and I went to a
Mass in Old St. Patrick's Church in Chicago, we were in
the pew kneeling after Communion. The church was quiet as
people were returning from Communion. An older fellow,
whom I did not know, stood next to me in the aisle and
looked down at me and said in a voice that could be heard
across the church, ``Stick with Bob Byrd.''
I came back and told him that story, and he just howled
with laughter. I said, ``Senator Byrd, your reach is
beyond West Virginia and beyond the Senate. It is in
Chicago and across the country. What you are saying is
resonating with a lot of people.''
In the end, 23 people voted against that war--1
Republican and 22 Democrats. For a while, we were not
popular. Over time I think that vote became more
respected. Robert C. Byrd was our leader, and he used this
Constitution as his inspiration.
He had such a sense of history. My favorite story
related to about 16 or 18 years ago. I was a Member of the
House of Representatives then on the Appropriations
Committee, and Robert C. Byrd was the chairman of the
Senate Appropriations Committee. He was a powerful man. We
were supposed to meet downstairs in a conference
committee, House and Senate, the conferees from both
Appropriations Committees, on a transportation bill.
To no one's surprise and without any apology, Senator
Byrd had quite a few West Virginia projects in that bill.
Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia, a Republican, sat on
the committee on the House side. When he looked at the
West Virginia projects, he got upset. He said it publicly
in the Washington Post and other places that he had
thought Senator Byrd had gone too far.
That was a pretty bold move by Congressman Wolf to make
those statements in the minority about the chairman of the
Senate Appropriations Committee. I could not wait for that
conference committee because the two of them would
literally be in the same room. In fact, it turned out to
be even better. They were not just in the same room, but
Senator Byrd's staff had reserved a chair directly across
the table from Congressman Wolf.
The place was packed, waiting for this confrontation.
Senator Byrd came in last and sat down very quietly in his
chair and waited his turn. Congressman Wolf at some point
asked for recognition and went after the Byrd West
Virginia projects. Frank is a passionate man. I served
with him and agreed with him on many issues and disagreed
on others. I respected him. He was passionate and
committed and made it clear he thought this was unfair and
Senator Byrd, in his three-piece suit, sat across from
him with hands on the table showing no emotion until after
15, 20 minutes, Congressman Wolf was exhausted by his
protests about these Byrd projects, at which point Senator
Byrd leaned over and said to whomever was presiding at
that moment, ``May I speak?'' And they said, ``Of
Then he said--and I am going to paraphrase this. I think
it is pretty close to what he said. There was no video
camera there. I wish there had been. He said, ``In 1830,
in January of 1830, January 19, 1830, which, if my memory
serves me, was a Thursday, Daniel Webster and Mr. Hayne
engaged in one of the most famous debates in American
history.'' And off he went.
For the next 15 minutes, without a note, Robert C. Byrd
tried to explain a very basic principle, and it was this:
The Senate is created to give every State the same number
of Senators--two Senators. The House is elected by popular
vote. A small State such as West Virginia does not have
much of a chance in the House of Representatives. It is
small in a body of 435 Members. But in the Senate, every
State, large and small--Virginia and West Virginia,
Illinois, New York, California--each has two Senators.
The point Senator Byrd was making was: If I do not put
the projects in in the Senate, we will never get them in
in the House. That is what the Great Compromise, the
Constitution, and the Senate and the House are all about.
It was a masterful presentation, which led to a
compromise, one might expect, at the end of the day in
which Senator Byrd did quite well for his State of West
Years passed, and I was elected to this body. I came
here and I saw Senator Byrd sitting in that seat one day,
and I said, ``I want to tell you the most famous debate I
can ever remember--there was not a camera in the room, and
I do not think anyone recorded it.'' I recalled his debate
with Frank Wolf.
I said, ``What I remember particularly is when you said,
`January 19, 1830, which was a Thursday, if I recall.'''
He said, ``Yes, I think it was a Thursday.''
I said, ``I don't doubt it was a Thursday, but that
little detail was amazing.''
He kind of smiled. He did not say anything more. About
an hour passed before the next roll call, and he called me
over to that desk. He had brought out a perpetual calendar
and found January 19, 1830, and said, ``Mr. Durbin, it was
I said, ``I didn't dispute it, Senator.''
It was an example in my mind of a man who understood
this Constitution, understood his use of that Constitution
for his State--some would say he overused it, but he was
fighting for his State every day he was here--his command
of history and his command of the moment.
That was Robert C. Byrd. They do not make them like that
anymore. There just are not many people in our generation
who can even claim to be in that position.
I recall it and I remember very well another
conversation I had with him. You see, history will show
that in his early life, Robert C. Byrd was a member of the
Ku Klux Klan. Many of his detractors and enemies would
bring that up. He would be very open about it, not deny
it, but say that he had changed, and his votes reflected
I once said to him, ``Of all these thousands and
thousands of votes you have cast, are there any you would
like to do over?''
``Oh, yes,'' he said. ``Three. There was one for an
Eisenhower administration appointee which I voted against,
and I wish I voted for him. I think that was a mistake.''
``And,'' he said, ``I was wrong on the civil rights
legislation. I voted the wrong way in the 1960s.''
``And,'' he said, ``I made a mistake and voted for the
deregulation of the airline industry which cut off airline
service to my State of West Virginia.'' Those were three.
If you have been in public life or even if you have been
on this Earth a while, I think you have learned the value
of redemption. Robert C. Byrd, in his early life, made a
mistake with his membership in the Ku Klux Klan. He was
open about it, and he demonstrated in his life that he was
wrong and would do better in the future. That is
redemption--political redemption--and, in my mind, it was
There were so many other facets to this man too. Senator
Leahy talked about him playing the fiddle. That is the
first time I ever saw him in person. He came to
Springfield, Illinois, in 1976, when he was aspiring to
run for President of the United States. He stood out from
the rest of the crowd because he got up and said a few
words about why he wanted to be President. Then he reached
in and grabbed his fiddle and started playing it.
I tell you, it brought the house down. I don't remember
who else was there. I think Jimmy Carter was there. But I
do remember that Bob Byrd was there.
When I came to the Senate, I thought: I cannot wait to
see or hear him play that fiddle again. I learned that
after his grandson died in an automobile accident, he
said, ``I will never touch it again, in memory of my
grandson.'' That is the kind of family commitment he made
as well. He would sing and occasionally have a Christmas
party downstairs, and a few of us would be lucky enough to
get invited. He would sing. He was a man who had gone
through some life experiences and family experiences that
were very meaningful to him.
I remember another day when I was on the floor of the
Senate and there was a debate about the future of the
National Endowment for the Arts. Senator Ashcroft of
Missouri wanted to eliminate the National Endowment for
the Arts and take away all its money. I stood up to debate
him. I was brand new here, not smart enough to know when
to sit down and shut up. I started debating: I thought it
was wrong, the arts are important, so forth.
Through the door comes Bob Byrd. He walks in here and
asks if he could be recognized. Everything stopped when he
had asked for recognition. They said, ``Of course.''
He said, ``I want to tell you what music meant to me. I
was an orphan, and I was raised in a loving family. Early
in life, they went out and bought me a fiddle. Music has
always been a big, important part of my life.'' Out of
nowhere, this man gives this beautiful speech, and then he
quotes poetry during the course of the speech.
As one can tell, all of us who served with him are great
fans of Robert C. Byrd and what he meant to this Senate
and what he meant to this Nation. West Virginia has lost a
great servant who was so proud of his home State. Time and
again that was always the bottom line for him: Is this
going to be good for the future of my little State of West
Virginia? He fought for them and put them on the map in
some regards and some projects. He was respected by his
colleagues because of the commitment to the people who
honored him by allowing him to serve in the Senate.
There may be a debate as to whether there is a heaven.
If there is a heaven and they have a table for the greats
in the Senate, I would ask Daniel Webster to pull up a
chair for Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia.
Madam President, I yield the floor.
Mr. TESTER. Madam President, I have a short speech to
give today about a giant of a man. I rise today out of
deep respect for our colleague, Senator Robert C. Byrd.
Sharla and I extend our condolences to the Byrd family and
to all the people of West Virginia. We join you in
mourning but also in a celebration of his life and his
successes as a public servant.
Senator Byrd liked to call me ``the Mountain Man,'' and
when somebody from the Mountain State calls you that, it
is an incredible compliment.
Senator Byrd and I had a few things in common: We were
both from very small towns, we both married our high
school sweethearts, and we both made a living at one time
as meatcutters. He must have had an eye for the butchering
business because he liked to guess my weight. And wouldn't
you know, he always came within 3 pounds. You could say
Senator Byrd convinced me to spend a little more time in
Senator Byrd was elected to Congress 4 years before I
was even born, and he always shared his wisdom with those
of us who admired it. I am honored to call Senator Byrd a
respected teacher and a trusted friend.
I was Presiding Officer on the day the farm bill came
before the Senate. Instead of signing the farm bill
himself, Senator Byrd let me sign the bill. Although it
went unspoken, I know it was because he saw me as the
farmer in the Senate. It was truly an honor for me to be
able to do that.
Another thing Senator Byrd and I had in common was our
upbringing in rural America. He was always proud to fight
for folks making a living off the land and in the
mountains and in the woods. He was a powerful advocate,
and he represented West Virginia with tireless passion. He
valued hard work and common sense. Those values are a
matter of survival in America. They are values you take
with you as you go to Congress, and Senator Byrd showed us
Madam President, we will miss Senator Byrd very much.
His work over the decades on the Hill has made the entire
country a better place for us and for our kids and
Before I came to Capitol Hill 3\1/2\ years ago, many
folks came up to me and said, ``You are going to have an
experience of a lifetime. You will meet some incredible
people.'' And I will tell you that one of the most
incredible men I have met since I have been here was
We miss you.
I yield the floor.
Mr. AKAKA. Madam President, I rise to pay tribute to
Senator Robert C. Byrd, my mentor, supporter, and good
Senator Byrd was the dean of the Senate, our foremost
constitutional scholar. No one in the history of our
country served longer in Congress.
For more than a half century, Robert C. Byrd kept the
Senate in line. He always kept a copy of the Constitution
in his jacket pocket, close to his heart. He was
meticulous, a master of the rules of this historic
institution. Through hard work and dedication, Senator
Byrd became an institution himself.
When I joined the Senate 20 years ago, to my great
fortune, Senator Byrd took me under his wing. He guided me
through procedural rules and taught me how to preside over
the floor. I still have the notes he gave me when I was a
freshman Senator. He was adamant that the Presiding
Officer should always be respectful of the speakers, while
maintaining strict adherence to the rules of the Senate.
Senator Robert C. Byrd was a patriot who cared for and
loved this country, the United States of America. He
worked hard for the people of West Virginia, who showed
their support for him election after election.
Senator Robert C. Byrd was a spiritual man. Each week a
number of Senators got together for a morning prayer
breakfast. Senator Byrd was a regular participant when he
was well. His favorite hymn was ``Old Rugged Cross.'' I
enjoyed singing it with him many times.
We shared a love for music and the arts. His fiddle
playing was legendary.
He loved his family. He loved his children and
grandchildren. He loved his dogs. Closest always was his
wife Erma who was always by his side until her death in
2006. They spent many wonderful years together, and now
they are together again.
My thoughts and prayers are with the Byrd family.
Senator Byrd, we love you and we miss you.
Thank you very much, Madam President.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
Mr. CASEY. Mr. President, I wish to offer a few words in
remembrance of Senator Byrd.
We do mourn his passing. We see at his desk today a
reminder of his passing. To say that Robert Byrd was a
towering figure in the history of the Senate does not
begin to describe his impact, his influence and, indeed,
the memory he leaves behind, the legacy he leaves behind
for those of us in the Senate, for his home State of West
Virginia, and I know for millions of Americans.
He was a strong advocate for not just his point of view
but, more important, for the people of West Virginia. He
arrived in the Senate in 1959--before I was born. I was
pleased to have the opportunity and honor, the chance to
serve with him for a couple of years.
He was a strong advocate. He was also a remarkable
orator. Even in the last couple years of his life when
some thought he might have been slowing down a little,
when he got the microphone, he could deliver a speech like
no other. He was a tremendous orator who believed in what
he was saying, believed in the traditions of the Senate,
but mostly, and most importantly, believed in fighting for
the working men and women and the families of West
We also knew him as a scholar--a scholar of not just
this institution, maybe the leading scholar of all time
when it comes to the institution of the Senate, but also
as well as a constitutional scholar.
His was a life of commitment, of real fidelity, first
and foremost I believe to his family. He spoke often of
his wife Erma. In the portrait that is just outside the
door, there are three items in his area of control in the
picture. He has his hand on the Bible, the Scriptures, he
has a copy of the Constitution, and a picture of his
beloved wife Erma, about whom he spoke so often.
He was committed and had a life of commitment to his
family and his faith. But he was also committed to the
people of West Virginia for so many years, so many battles
on their behalf and especially the families of West
Of course, he also led a life of commitment and fidelity
to the Constitution and knew it better than anyone I have
ever met and certainly better than some of our more
renowned constitutional scholars.
Of course, we know of his commitment to this
institution, to the Senate. He loved this institution and
wrote volume after volume about the Senate. We know that
the multivolume work he did, the one volume in and of
itself--hundreds of pages on the history of the Senate--is
a compilation of speeches he gave on the floor of the
Senate, some of them written out, but some of them he
could give by memory.
We know of his capacity to extemporaneously talk about
so many topics, whether it was history or poetry or
Scripture or the history of the Senate.
We will miss his scholarship, we will miss his service,
and we will miss his fidelity to his country and to his
home State. I, along with others here, am honored to have
served with him in this body. For me it was 3\1/2\ years.
To be in his presence, to listen to him, to learn from him
is a great gift. We mourn his passing. I do not think any
of us will believe there will ever be a Senator quite like
him. He served 50 years in this body, in addition to
serving the people of West Virginia in the House of
Representatives, as well as in the legislature in West
We say farewell and God bless and Godspeed to Robert
Byrd and his memory. We are praying for and thinking this
day and I know many future days about his legacy and his
SENATE RESOLUTION 572--RELATIVE TO THE DEATH OF THE
HONORABLE ROBERT C. BYRD, A SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF WEST
Mr. REID (for himself, Mr. McConnell, Mr. Rockefeller,
Mr. Akaka, Mr. Alexander, Mr. Barrasso, Mr. Baucus, Mr.
Bayh, Mr. Begich, Mr. Bennet, Mr. Bennett, Mr. Bingaman,
Mr. Bond, Mrs. Boxer, Mr. Brown of Massachusetts, Mr.
Brown of Ohio, Mr. Brownback, Mr. Bunning, Mr. Burr, Mr.
Burris, Ms. Cantwell, Mr. Cardin, Mr. Carper, Mr. Casey,
Mr. Chambliss, Mr. Coburn, Mr. Cochran, Ms. Collins, Mr.
Conrad, Mr. Corker, Mr. Cornyn, Mr. Crapo, Mr. DeMint, Mr.
Dodd, Mr. Dorgan, Mr. Durbin, Mr. Ensign, Mr. Enzi, Mr.
Feingold, Mrs. Feinstein, Mr. Franken, Mrs. Gillibrand,
Mr. Graham, Mr. Grassley, Mr. Gregg, Mrs. Hagan, Mr.
Harkin, Mr. Hatch, Mrs. Hutchison, Mr. Inhofe, Mr. Inouye,
Mr. Isakson, Mr. Johanns, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Kaufman, Mr.
Kerry, Ms. Klobuchar, Mr. Kohl, Mr. Kyl, Ms. Landrieu, Mr.
Lautenberg, Mr. Leahy, Mr. LeMieux, Mr. Levin, Mr.
Lieberman, Mrs. Lincoln, Mr. Lugar, Mr. McCain, Mrs.
McCaskill, Mr. Menendez, Mr. Merkley, Ms. Mikulski, Ms.
Murkowski, Mrs. Murray, Mr. Nelson of Nebraska, Mr. Nelson
of Florida, Mr. Pryor, Mr. Reed, Mr. Risch, Mr. Roberts,
Mr. Sanders, Mr. Schumer, Mr. Sessions, Mrs. Shaheen, Mr.
Shelby, Ms. Snowe, Mr. Specter, Ms. Stabenow, Mr. Tester,
Mr. Thune, Mr. Udall of Colorado, Mr. Udall of New Mexico,
Mr. Vitter, Mr. Voinovich, Mr. Warner, Mr. Webb, Mr.
Whitehouse, Mr. Wicker, and Mr. Wyden) submitted the
following resolution; which was considered and agreed to:
S. Res. 572
Whereas, the Honorable Robert C. Byrd served the people
of his beloved state of West Virginia for over 63 years,
serving in the West Virginia House of Delegates, the West
Virginia Senate, the United States House of
Representatives, and the United States Senate;
Whereas, the Honorable Robert C. Byrd is the only West
Virginian to have served in both Houses of the West
Virginia Legislature and in both Houses of the United
Whereas, the Honorable Robert C. Byrd has served for
fifty-one years in the United States Senate and is the
longest serving Senator in history, having been elected to
nine full terms;
Whereas, the Honorable Robert C. Byrd has cast more than
18,680 roll call votes--more than any other Senator in
Whereas, the Honorable Robert C. Byrd has served in the
Senate leadership as President pro tempore, Majority
Leader, Majority Whip, Minority Leader, and Secretary of
the Majority Conference;
Whereas, the Honorable Robert C. Byrd has served on a
Senate committee, the Committee on Appropriations, which
he has chaired during five Congresses, longer than any
other Senator; and
Whereas, the Honorable Robert C. Byrd is the first
Senator to have authored a comprehensive history of the
United States Senate;
Whereas, the Honorable Robert C. Byrd has played an
essential role in the development and enactment of an
enormous body of national legislative initiatives and
policy over many decades; and
Whereas his death has deprived his State and Nation of
an outstanding lawmaker and public servant: Now therefore,
Resolved, That the Senate has heard with profound sorrow
and deep regret the announcement of the death of the
Honorable Robert C. Byrd, Senator from the State of West
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate communicate
these resolutions to the House of Representatives and
transmit an enrolled copy thereof to the family of the
Resolved, That when the Senate adjourns today, it stand
adjourned as a further mark of respect to the memory of
the deceased Senator.
Mr. INOUYE. Mr. President, my heart is heavy with
sadness following the passing of a dear friend, Robert C.
Byrd, Senator from West Virginia.
We have been friends for nearly 50 years and I am
overcome with memories. Nearly 48 years ago Senator Byrd
was one of the first to greet me in the Chamber of the
Since that first moment of friendship we have worked
together on many projects. And since those early days, I
have called him ``my leader.''
He was my mentor. Over the years he provided me
countless opportunities and tasked me with positions of
critical national oversight while guiding my actions with
the temperance he learned as the longest serving Senator
He was a Senator's Senator. His many accomplishments
were historic and he fought tirelessly to improve the
lives of working families in West Virginia. We shared the
belief that we must provide for the people who trust us to
represent their communities in Washington.
I owe much to my leader, Senator Byrd. He will forever
have my gratitude and respect and I will miss him dearly.
My thoughts and prayers are with the Byrd family during
this difficult time.
Mr. President, as America mourns, I ask my colleagues to
join me in paying tribute to Senator Byrd.
Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I know several colleagues
have come to the floor today to note the passing of a
giant among us, Robert Byrd. I want to take a moment here
to speak straight from the heart about Robert Byrd and my
experience working with him. As we look at his desk with
the flowers there, we of course think back to not too long
ago when we lost another giant, Ted Kennedy. I think what
distinguishes these two from others is their unbelievable,
undying commitment to the people they represented and to
I think, when all is said and done, that is what it is
about. It is not about how long you serve. Of course, in
the case of both Senator Kennedy and Senator Byrd, it was
very long. Senator Byrd made history as the longest
serving Senator, and that should be duly noted. But it is
well beyond that. It is about this fierce sense of ``fight
for your people'' that they both had.
When I came to the Senate, of course Robert C. Byrd was
a legend for sure. He always met with the incoming
Senators, to give them the rules of the road about
procedure, about how to conduct yourself when you were in
the chair, about the dignity of the Senate, and most of
all about reverence for the Constitution. As many know and
many saw, the image I will always have of Robert C. Byrd
is of him reaching inside his suit pocket and bringing out
the Constitution--which, along with the Bible, was what he
cherished most. He taught us that everything we do here
comes from the Founders, and he taught us to love and
respect the Constitution and he did it in a way that was
I can tell you, coming from the largest State in the
Union, we have our share of problems. We have floods and
fires and droughts, we have pests in our agricultural
industry, we have problem after problem--earthquakes, need
I say that? Every single time we had one of these
disasters, Senator Feinstein and I knew we had to go to
our colleagues and say: Please understand, California
needs the help of the U.S. Government because the damage
is so massive. Of course, we all do that whenever our
State has a problem, because we are the United States of
However, there are times when you do not have an ear
that is listening. Senator Byrd, as the chairman of the
Appropriations Committee, opened his doors to us, opened
his heart to us, opened his experience to us, and was
always there for us. I so remember that, time after time.
I went to see him about our water problems. We have lots
of water problems. We have cities and suburbs that need
the water. We have fishermen who need the water. We have
agriculture that needs the water. All the stakeholders
have very difficult debates over water. Senator Feinstein
and I again have teamed up on this and we have always had
a willing listener in Robert C. Byrd, who understood and
helped us get the stakeholders to the table to find ways
to preserve, to conserve, and increase the supply in a
smart way for all those stakeholders.
These things are very big to the people of California,
who probably have not connected Robert Byrd to California.
But in all of these cases where we were so in need, he was
there for us.
I remember his leadership in trying to bring the troops
home from Iraq. Twenty-three of us stood up and said no to
that war because we thought it meant taking our eye off
Osama bin Laden and what was happening in Afghanistan and
turning around and going into Iraq. We worried very much
about what would happen with our troops and that it would
be a very long war and there was no exit strategy.
Senator Byrd organized us and he opened his office here
in the Capitol and said we need to talk about ways that we
can bring this war to an end. We need to talk about what
is happening to our troops. He cared so much. For me, to
have been in his presence and to watch him work has been
an amazing experience. So I rise to pay tribute to him.
He has so many wonderful family members who care so much
about him. When he lost his wife, it took a huge toll on
Robert Byrd, and you saw it in his face. A light went out
inside. His grandchildren and children stepped up, but
that hole in his heart was there. It was evident to all of
us. He stayed here through thick and thin, came in--
wheeled in, in a wheelchair, fading, suffering, to be in
this place that he loved so much; that he respected so
I say, and I know, there is not a Member on either side
of the aisle who did not respect Robert C. Byrd for his
brilliance, for his strength, for his fierce
representation of his State and, by the way, for his
extraordinary life, coming up the way he did. Talk about
the American dream--a child of dire poverty, close to the
mines. He always fought for those miners. What a legacy he
I don't have any notes in front of me. I am speaking
from the heart today. I will have a more complete
statement, but I did want to make my views known today and
send my condolences to the family. It is a great loss for
Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I rise with a heavy heart to
pay tribute to our friend and colleague who died early
this morning, Senator Robert C. Byrd, the longest serving
Member in the illustrious history of the U.S. Congress,
the longest serving Senator, and the only Senator in U.S.
history elected to nine full terms. Considering that
Senator Byrd won his first election to the West Virginia
House of Delegates in 1946, it may be that he was the
longest serving elected official in history. His passing
is a profound loss to all Americans, to his beloved
constituents in West Virginia, and particularly to the
institution of the U.S. Senate and those of us who serve
here. The Senate had no greater champion than Robert Byrd,
no one with his understanding of the Senate's unique
character, role, promise, history, and parliamentary
When Robert Byrd was elected to the Senate in 1958,
after serving in the House for 6 years, he was part of a
large, distinguished class that included such future
giants as Hugh Scott, Gene McCarthy, Edmund Muskie, and
Philip Hart. He surpassed them all.
According to the Senate Historical Office, Robert Byrd
was the 1,579th person to become a U.S. Senator. Since he
was elected to the Senate, another 335 individuals have
become U.S. Senators. All in all, Robert Byrd served with
over 400 other Senators. And I am certain that each one of
them held their colleague, as I do, in the highest esteem.
Senator Byrd's modest beginnings in the hardscrabble
coalfields of Appalachia are well known. After his mother
died during the 1918 flu pandemic, Senator Byrd went to
live with an aunt and uncle who adopted him and raised him
in a house without running water or electricity. He pumped
gas and butchered hogs. During World War II, he was a
welder and built cargo ships in Baltimore and Tampa Bay.
After the war, he successfully ran for the West Virginia
House of Delegates and, 4 years later, the State's senate,
before entering Congress in 1953. All in all, he ran for
and was elected to office 15 times--not counting
primaries--without suffering a single defeat. Suffice it
to say that his life is the quintessential American
success story. I think every young American should learn
about Senator Byrd's life as an example of what hard work
and persistence and devotion can accomplish in this
country. He understood better than most people the
importance of being educated, not just for embarking on a
successful career, but as an end to itself. He was well
read and could recite from memory long passages from the
Bible and from great poets and authors. He was a fine
historian, not just of the Founding Fathers and the U.S.
Senate, but of ancient Greece and Rome and England.
Senator Byrd married his high school sweetheart, Erma
Ora James, shortly after they both graduated from Mark
Twain High School--where he was valedictorian--in 1937. He
was too poor to afford college right away and wouldn't
receive his degree from Marshall University until 60 years
later--when he was 77. In between, he did something no
other Member of Congress has ever done: he enrolled in law
school--at American University--and in 10 years of part-
time study while serving as a Member of Congress, he
completed his law degree, which President John Kennedy
presented to him. Senator Byrd was married to his beloved
Erma for nearly 69 years, and was blessed with two
daughters, six grandchildren, and seven great-
During his Senate tenure, Robert Byrd was elected to
more leadership positions than any other Senator in
history, including majority and minority leader, whip, and
President pro tempore. He cast 18,689 roll call votes.
Only 29 other Senators in the history of the Republic have
cast more than 10,000 votes; Strom Thurmond is the only
other Senator to cast more than 16,000 votes. Senator
Byrd's attendance record over five decades--97 percent--is
as impressive as the sheer number of votes he cast.
Senator Byrd's legislative accomplishments, from
economic development and transportation to education and
health care, are legendary. He steered the Panama Canal
Treaty through the Senate and waged a lonely battle
against the war in Iraq, leading an unsuccessful
filibuster against the resolution granting President
George W. Bush broad power to wage a preemptive war
against Iraq. He claimed that his vote against the Iraq
war resolution was the vote of which he was most proud for
having cast over the course of his career. When U.S.
military strikes on Iraq commenced on March 19, 2003, he
Today I weep for my country. I have watched the events
of recent months with a heavy heart. No more is the image
of America one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper. The
image of America has changed. Around the globe, our
friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions
are questioned. Instead of reasoning with those with whom
we disagree, we demand obedience or threaten
Senator Byrd was unabashedly determined to use his power
as a Senator and as the chairman or ranking member of the
Appropriations Committee to help lift his State out of
grinding poverty. And he delivered for his constituents.
It is no surprise, then, that he won 100 percent of the
vote of West Virginians in one election--1976--or
frequently carried all 55 of West Virginia's counties. And
while he fervently supported the coal industry, he
recognized the devastating environmental and social impact
of mountaintop removal mining techniques and he called for
an end to that practice.
In the meantime, he wrote five books, including the
definitive history of the U.S. Senate.
Perhaps the highest tribute to Senator Byrd can be found
in his biographical section of the Almanac of American
Politics, which states: ``Robert Byrd ... may come closest
to the kind of senator the Founding Fathers had in mind
than any other.'' His fealty to the U.S. Senate and to the
Constitution has served as an inspiration, a lesson, and a
guiding light to all of us who have been privileged to
follow him in this Chamber.
In the last 10 months, we have lost two towering figures
here in the Senate: Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd--one of
the Senate's greatest legislators and without doubt its
greatest defender. Former Senator Paul Sarbanes, whose
seat I am privileged to hold, remarked that Senator Byrd
liked to say that he never served under any President, but
was honored to serve with many Presidents. We can honor
these twin giants by carrying on their legacies, by
fighting to make America a better place for all Americans,
and by defending the Senate's role as a coequal, not
subservient, branch of government.
When Senator Byrd became the longest serving Member of
Congress last November, I quoted Robert E. Lee in my floor
statement. Lee said, ``Duty is the most sublime word in
our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do
more. You should never wish to do less.'' Senator Robert
C. Byrd has done his duty in all things--to the Senate, to
himself, to his family, to his State, to his Nation, and
I am honored to join his and my colleagues here in the
Senate, West Virginians, and all Americans in mourning the
death, celebrating the life, and paying tribute to this
great Senator and this great man.
Mr. BROWN of Ohio. Mr. President, I ask unanimous
consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be
agreed to, the motions to reconsider be laid upon the
table, with no intervening action or debate.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so
The resolution (S. Res. 572) was agreed to.
The preamble was agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT UNTIL 10 A.M. TOMORROW
Mr. BROWN of Ohio. If there is no further business to
come before the Senate, I ask unanimous consent that it
adjourn under the provisions of S. Res. 572 as a further
mark of respect to the memory of Senator Robert C. Byrd.
There being no objection, the Senate, at 7:13 p.m.,
adjourned until Tuesday, June 29, 2010, at 10 a.m.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Mrs. MURRAY. Madam President, I come to the floor this
morning to pay my respects to a most amazing man who the
Senate Chamber has lost, Senator Robert C. Byrd. It
certainly is a sad day for the Senate, for all the people
of West Virginia who loved this man so much, and for the
entire country, as we mourn the loss of the Nation's
longest serving Senator.
Robert C. Byrd was a historian, a poet, and he truly was
a master of the Senate. We have heard a lot about this
remarkable man. A lot of it bears repeating today. He was
the longest serving Member in the history of this
institution. He had courage. He had humility. He had
intelligence. He had a vision that helped lead the Senate
for many years. But he also showed us that one can change
over time and admit their wrongs and move on and fight for
what they believe is right.
His principled stands are what I will remember most
about him. I was so proud, back in 2002, to stand with him
and a total of 23 Senators who voted against the Iraq war.
I will not forget how strong he was, reminding us that as
a country we do not have to act out of fear. I was proud
to stand with him many times since then, when he would
knowingly wink at me and remind us of the 23 who stood
tall in the Chamber that day.
His floor speeches were legendary. I remember so many
times throughout my tenure with him as he railed on the
floor about whatever passion he had at the moment, whether
it was his little dog he would tell us a story about or
some part of history he wanted to remind us of, always
with a point at the end. I remember his compassion as he
spoke, and his flailing arms. He always reminded us that
we are human beings here. He had a true way with words,
and he literally wrote the book on the Senate. Most
important, he protected this institution from every
To his very last days here he was weighing in on
proposed changes to the filibuster rule, a rule he played
a central part in reforming three decades ago.
But the true honor of serving with Senator Byrd came
from his personal touch. I personally remember my very
first meeting many years ago with Senator Byrd. I came
here as a brandnew Senator in 1993. I wanted to serve on
the Appropriations Committee, the committee he chaired. It
is a very powerful committee. It was a big ask for a
freshman Senator coming in. I was told that in order to
get that seat, I would have to call him up and ask for a
personal meeting. That was pretty intimidating, coming
here brand new and asking for a meeting with the chair of
the entire Appropriations Committee.
He granted the meeting. I remember walking over to the
Capitol to his office and not knowing what to expect. I
couldn't have known what to expect because, when I walked
in, I found this warm, wonderful, cordial human being. He
regaled me with stories from his youth and talked about
being a coal miner's son and the poverty he grew up in. He
showed me his fiddle he was so proud of but that he played
no more. He recited poetry from memory. I remember sitting
in his office and thinking: I can't believe I am sitting
here with a part of history. Then, of course, he grilled
me on my stance on the balanced budget amendment and the
line-item veto before he said, ``Yes, I would like you to
serve on my committee.''
I have been so proud to serve on that committee with him
ever since. He taught me so much about protocol, about
managing legislation, about the rules of the Senate, about
respect. Yes, respect was what I think I learned from him
most. He was a taskmaster. He believed passionately in the
rules of the Senate, but he also believed in working
together for the common good.
In the first year I was here, Senator Hatfield,
Republican from Oregon, and Senator Byrd were the chair
and ranking member on the Appropriations Committee.
Senator Byrd called and asked me to come to lunch in his
office with a small group of Senators, with Senator
Hatfield and myself and several Democrats and Republicans.
I was so honored to be asked, and I came over not knowing
what to expect. Senator Byrd and Senator Hatfield, a
Republican and Democrat, a chair and a ranking member of
the most powerful committee, the Appropriations Committee,
sat and talked to us about what they felt was being lost
from the Senate and that, as new Members, it was our
responsibility to return the Senate to. That was respect
and listening to each other. They told us in words about
how ``one year I might be chair,'' said Senator Byrd,
``but I know full well an election will change things and
Senator Hatfield will become chair. So we better work
together, and we better respect each other, as we put our
bills together. Because you never know when you are going
to be in the minority or the majority.''
Their words were powerful. But even more powerful was
sitting there listening to these two gentlemen, a
Republican and Democrat, listen to each other, laugh
together, have lunch together, and pass on a lesson to
those following us about what we all need to be when we
call ourselves U.S. Senators.
Senator Byrd earned many titles over the years: majority
whip, majority leader, chairman of the Appropriations
Committee. But I know the title he cherished the most was
husband. His love of his family trumped everything else.
I so remember one time my husband, who lives out in the
State of Washington--as my colleagues know, I travel home
every weekend to be with my family--one weekend my husband
came out here to be with me. Why? Because it was our
anniversary. I was going to be here voting so he traveled
here from Washington State and came into the Capitol. As
he was coming in, I met him. Senator Byrd happened to be
leaving the Senate Chamber. He saw my husband and he
welcomed him and said, ``What are you doing out here in
the other Washington?'' My husband said, ``It is our
anniversary.'' Senator Byrd said, ``Well, which
anniversary is it?''
Rob said to him, ``It is our 32d.'' Senator Byrd paused
and nodded, and he said, ``That is a good start.''
He had been married for 67 years. He was going home to
be with his wife. That is a moment I will cherish, because
it sets in perspective all that I know about Senator Byrd.
He taught by example. He taught by words. He knew humor
and how to use it. But most of all, he had respect for
every one of us here.
He was a gentleman. He certainly was tough, but he
treated everyone with dignity and respect. Everyone here
on this floor has been molded by his presence. We have
learned so much from him, and he will be missed.
But I know for certain his work and his passion and his
spirit will never be gone from this Senate he loved so
much, and I know as I walk on this Senate floor, I will
try and remember, as he taught me so well, respect of
others above all.
Madam President, I yield the floor.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from
Mr. DURBIN. Thank you very much.
Madam President, yesterday I joined Senator Murray and
others in giving my tribute to Senator Byrd, and I will
not repeat my remarks. But I look forward to other Members
coming to the floor with their own memories and
reminiscences of this great man who served this Nation and
the State of West Virginia so honorably for so long and
the fact that I was honored to serve with him for 14 years
in the Senate.
Madam President, I know an issue that was always
important to Robert Byrd was the working men and women of
West Virginia. If there was one thing that innervated him
and inspired him, it was the memory of his youth and
growing up in the most impoverished circumstances where he
could not attend college and had to go to work straight
out of high school. It was not until many years later that
he completed college and law degrees as a Member of
Congress. It was an extraordinary feat to be able to
achieve that. ...
Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, I come to my seat today on
the floor of the Senate to take a few minutes to share my
thoughts on the late Senator Robert Byrd and his tragic
death a few days ago. I come with a perspective different
than those who served with him for decades because this is
my first term in the Senate. I was elected in 2004.
In our caucus, which then was in the majority, we were
asked to take responsibility for presiding, just as the
current Presiding Officer is doing today. The day I picked
was Friday mornings, not knowing we would not be here on a
lot of Friday mornings except for a normal business
session. But I did it on every Friday morning. For 2 years
I presided over the Senate from about 10 in the morning
until about 12:30 in the afternoon.
Friday morning is the day Robert Byrd would come to the
floor of the Senate and share and reshare some of his
great speeches. I was here to listen to the entire speech
on the tribute to mothers on Mother's Day. I heard him,
oftentimes, talk so wonderfully about his lovely wife. I
heard him talk about the Roman Empire, its rise and its
fall. I heard him make speeches on the rules of the
Senate, the details that no one in this room could ever
come close to.
But, for me, the most important contribution of the
Senator from West Virginia was the fact it didn't matter
how experienced you were or what your party was, if you
had a question on the rules of the Senate, you could go to
the seat of Senator Byrd and you could get an answer that
you could put in the bank. He loved sharing his knowledge.
He loved the institution of the Senate. He never saw it
from a partisan standpoint, he always saw it from a
traditional and an institutional standpoint.
There will be a lot of great tributes paid to Senator
Byrd over the next few days and they will all be well
deserved. I certainly share in the sympathy that all
extend to his extended family for this tragic loss. But
many in this Senate today and many who served in the years
since he was first elected have benefited from the wisdom
and ``gentleman-ness'' that Robert Byrd represented. He is
a tradition in the Senate. He is a tradition in the State
of West Virginia. He will be missed, but I will be forever
thankful to Robert Byrd for what he took the time to share
with me, to help me understand the ways of the Senate. He
truly was a Senator's Senator and I extend my sympathy to
his family and the people of West Virginia on the tragic
loss of this great Senator.
I yield the floor.
Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, as we continue the
important work of the Senate this week on a number of
important bills, one of them being the small business
package that is before this body now, we are always
mindful, as we come to the floor with the beautiful
flowers on Senator Byrd's desk, of the great loss we are
all experiencing. His colleagues here and in his home
State of West Virginia, the Nation, and, as you know, many
people around the world are mourning the death of a great
Senator, a very well-known Senator, a very well-respected
Senator, and a very historic figure.
So as we all do our work today, it is with heavy hearts
that we work. I told my staff today walking into the
building, it seems so empty and particularly quiet, and it
is because of the great respect this Senator enjoyed in
his life and now enjoys in his death.
But as even Senator Byrd would say if he were here, the
work of the Senate, which he loved very much, needs to go
on because it is the work of the people in a very special
Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I stand today with my
colleagues with a very heavy heart to express my
condolences to the Byrd family and to the people of West
Virginia for losing a great American patriot. It is a very
sad day for America, for West Virginia, and for the
For all of us who knew Senator Byrd, we knew he had five
great loves: this country, the Constitution, the Senate,
the people of West Virginia, and his beloved wife Erma.
Senator Byrd was my mentor and my teacher. When I
arrived in the Senate, I was the first Democratic woman
elected to the Senate in her own right. He took me under
his wing and taught me the rules of the Senate.
He said to me, ``Senator Mikulski, he or she who knows
the rules will rule. And you will know how to do it.''
His advice to me--when I asked him how to be successful
in the Senate--was this, ``Senator Mikulski, stay loyal to
the Constitution and stay loyal to your constituents and
you will do okay.'' From the very first day, he wanted me
to succeed. He was so welcoming. He made sure I became a
member of the Appropriations Committee, and he helped me
learn how to use my position to meet the day-to-day needs
of my constituents and the long-term needs of our Nation.
Senator Byrd's career was remarkable. We all know the
facts: the longest serving Member of Congress in history,
the majority leader in the Senate, chairman of the
Appropriations Committee, President pro tempore of the
Senate, elected nine times to the Senate. Yet he never,
ever forgot where he came from. He represented the people
of West Virginia.
Raised in poverty in the coalfields of West Virginia by
an aunt and uncle, he was born with four great gifts: a
deep faith, a love of learning, a strong work ethic, and
the fact that he was born in the United States of America,
where someone who was, by all intents and purposes, an
orphan, could become a U.S. Senator. He worked as a gas
station attendant, a meat butcher, and a welder--I might
add, a welder in the Baltimore shipyards. He went to night
school for college and law school while he was in the
Senator Byrd wrote and passed many laws, but most
important to him was that he was an appropriator. He used
his position to help the people of West Virginia, and he
did not apologize for that. He brought jobs, roads, and
opportunity to one of the poorest States in the Nation. He
did not call it pork; he called it opportunity. And this
Senator would certainly agree with him.
But Senator Byrd also voted his conscience and
encouraged other Members to do the same. In his more than
18,000 votes, he was most proud of his vote against the
Iraq war. He was 1 of 23 Senators, and I joined him in
that vote. At that time, it was deeply unpopular. Those of
us who voted against the war were vilified. But we did the
right thing, though it was not easy.
If you love the Senate, you love Bob Byrd. He often
reminded us that the legislative branch is a coequal part
of the government. He fought hard against those who wanted
to give up Senate prerogatives, such as the line-item
veto. No one understood Senate procedure better and no one
protected Senate traditions more than Senator Bob Byrd.
He wanted to pass it on. With the new Senators, he gave
each one of us a lecture on the Constitution and gave us a
copy of the Constitution. He wanted us to know it and to
love it in the way he did. He also taught us the decorum
of the Senate--yes, the decorum of the Senate--and how,
through our processes and procedures, it was meant to
promote civility among us.
To me, as I said, he was a wonderful teacher. I remember
going to him when I was ready to offer my first amendment
on the floor, and I asked for his advice on how I could
present it and how I could not, quite frankly, be rolled.
He gave me good, concrete advice. On the day I offered my
first amendment, there was Senator Byrd in the background.
He was always there. As I said, Senator Byrd always had my
back. I was so grateful for having his advice and having
He lived an extraordinary life and left an extraordinary
legacy. He stood for citizenship, not partisanship. And
maybe that is what we should all do. Follow the
Constitution. Stay loyal to our Constitution and our
constituents. Use the rules of the Senate to promote
civility and good government. Make sure that at the end of
the day, we respect the opportunity and greatness of the
United States of America.
I mourn the passing of Senator Byrd, but his legacy will
live on in the rules and the traditions and the many bills
The people of West Virginia have had great Senators.
Senator Rockefeller is a great Senator. And Senator Byrd
will always be remembered, that he built a ``bridge to
somewhere'' for all of the people of West Virginia.
Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I am here today to pay respects
to Senator Byrd, whose desk is now adorned with a black
cloth and flowers. I know we will all long remember Monday
as the day we received some very sad news, for on that
day, as the morning began, we each learned in our own way
that our good friend and colleague Robert Byrd had passed
away just a few hours earlier. It should not have been a
sudden shock. We all had time to prepare for this moment.
We knew he had been having a period of ill health, but it
still seemed as if he would be here forever. That is the
kind of man Robert Byrd was.
A man of great gifts, he loved the written word and
could recite his favorite poems from memory--at length. It
was amazing how many speeches, reflections, and famous
quotations were there at his command, in his quiver, ever
ready and waiting for him to recite so he could emphasize
an important point about an issue that needed to be made.
That is the kind of man Robert Byrd was.
While it is true he was the longest serving Member of
Congress in history, he was so much more than that. He was
the historian of the Senate who knew more about our roots
as a legislative body than anyone else. He was a master
legislative craftsman, and whenever he spoke, we all
listened carefully to see what he had to say about the
matter we had taken up for deliberation. That is the kind
of man Robert Byrd was.
No one had more respect and regard for the Senate and
our legislative traditions and procedures than he did. He
knew the rules, he knew why they were crafted that way,
and he knew how to make good use of them to further the
agenda he believed to be in the best interests of the
people of our Nation. Once again, that is the kind of man
Robert Byrd was. That is why it is so difficult to sum up
his life in just a few well-chosen words.
There is no greater tribute we can pay to Robert Byrd
than for the spirit of friendship and camaraderie, which
were staples of his Senate service, to bring us all to the
Senate floor to express our regrets and send our
condolences to his family. It will also give us a chance
to share our memories of someone we will never forget.
I will always remember the orientation he organized for
the incoming class of new Senators each session for as
long as he was able. Besides a strong historical welcome,
he presented each of us with one volume of his four-volume
history of the Senate. If we read it and were able to
answer questions about it, then--and only then--would we
get the other three volumes. I remember asking him how he
wrote them. He said he presented all of it as a series of
floor speeches delivered without any notes, with most
corrections made simply to clear up what the floor
reporters thought they heard. He had a photographic
memory, and that made it all possible. Perhaps it came
from his years of study of the violin. In any event, it
made him a better speaker because he spoke slowly and
deliberately, carefully editing his sentences as he spoke.
His style created a natural bond between himself and the
listener, and that is what made him such a styled and
It may be a cliche, but he was a southern gentleman
through and through. He had no tolerance for any rude or
impolite conduct on the floor. He instructed and expected
all of us to be courteous and respectful--not because of
politics but because of the great institution of which we
are a part. He knew what a great honor and a privilege it
is to serve in the Senate, and he expected everyone else
to realize it as well and to act accordingly.
When you presided over the Senate, he expected you to
pay attention to each speaker. Sometimes, the Presiding
Officer is the only one in the Chamber. There was a time
when there was a telephone under the Presiding Officer's
desk. As the story goes, Senator Byrd was speaking when
the phone under the desk rang. When the Presiding Officer
answered it, Senator Byrd made sure to make him aware of
the importance of courtesy in such a situation. The
Presiding Officer then said, ``Senator Byrd, the phone is
for you.'' That is when the phone was taken out and a rule
went into effect that no electronic devices were to be
used on the Senate floor.
Then there were his special speeches. He always
commemorated each holiday the evening before a recess
would begin. Each speech was very poetic and, in fact,
usually had some poem he had memorized years before that
would come to mind and be recited from memory. He was good
at it, so good that we looked forward to his poetic
observations on the passing of time.
That unique speaking style of his also helped him to
build a good relationship with our pages. His ``going
away'' speech for each graduating class often left many of
them in tears. Their fondness for him only grew when they
learned that if the Senate was in session after 10 p.m.,
they had no early morning classes the next day. They were
always delighted, therefore, when the hour grew late and
Senator Byrd rose to speak. They knew he could easily add
the 10 or 15 or even 30 minutes needed to get them past 10
o'clock and a welcome reprieve from the early morning
My favorite speech Senator Byrd gave happened when I was
presiding. Over the previous weekend, he had visited some
of his grandkids and asked about their studies. He was a
firm believer in education and was an example of lifelong
learning himself. One of his grandkids had shared a math
experience with him. He was so surprised, he asked to see
the math book. He brought the book to the floor to read
parts of it to us. He was distressed at how math had
migrated into a social textbook. He pointed out that you
had to get to page 187 to find anything that resembled the
math he had learned. The parts prior to that were social
discourse. Anyone who heard the speech would remember his
I remember being at an interparliamentary trip held in
West Virginia hosting the British Parliament. We went to a
mountain retreat for dinner. Senator Byrd welcomed them
and then got out his violin and shared some fiddle music
he thought was appropriate for the occasion. He was very
Senator Byrd was an expert on the rules of the Senate.
At our orientation, he encouraged us to learn the rules.
Because of his encouragement and as a way to learn the
rules, I volunteered often to chair the Senate floor.
Following his instructions, I brought a list of questions
with me since during the quorum calls you can ask
questions of the captive-audience Parliamentarian.
I once saw a Senator come to the floor to debate an
amendment, and Senator Byrd was there to debate against
it. The Senator wanted to revise his amendment. For half
an hour, the Senator tried different tactics to change his
amendment, and Senator Byrd thwarted every attempt. The
Senator was frustrated, asked for a quorum call, and left
At that point, I asked the Parliamentarian if there was
any way the Senator could have changed his amendment. The
Parliamentarian explained that all he had to do was
declare his right to revise his amendment. I asked why the
Parliamentarian did not tell him that. What I learned is
the Parliamentarian can only give advice when asked. My
first stop at the Senate floor often is at the
Parliamentarian as a result.
During much of Senator Byrd's career, he was either the
chairman of the Appropriations Committee or the ranking
member. He was very good about taking care of orphan
miners. Those are primarily coal miners whose companies
have gone out of business owing benefits. After a couple
of lessons from the Senator, I worked with him to take
care of the orphan miner health problem in a bill that
speeded up mine reclamation in many States, extended an
expiring tax on coal companies with their guarded
permission, and then released impounded trust fund money
promised by law to the States impacted, to produce the
Nation's energy, as well as take care of the orphan
At another time, Senator Isakson and I worked with
Senators Byrd, Rockefeller, and Kennedy to make the first
changes in mine safety law in 28 years. He was very proud
of the difference he was able to make in the lives of coal
miners back home, and he never forgot them whenever we
were debating an issue that might have an impact on their
In the days and weeks to come, I can think of no greater
compliment we could pay another Senator or greater tribute
we can pay to Senator Byrd than to watch someone in action
on the Senate floor who develops and implements a well-
drawn strategy and say: That is the way Robert Byrd would
have done it.
For my part, I will always remember the great love
Senator Byrd had for our Constitution. I do not think
anyone knew it better or more detailed than he did. When I
was mayor of Gillette, I began a habit of carrying around
a copy of the Constitution with me. I discovered that a
lot of us knew what it said but not too many of us had a
grasp for the details. It had a lot of meaning for me
right from the start because it represents the blueprint
from which our Nation and system of government were
constructed. Then when I came to the Senate, I came to
know the Constitution in a completely different way. It
was now my job description, as Senator Byrd put it. So I
always kept it handy.
I have no doubt that Senator Byrd had a similar reaction
years before my own. I am sure he knew the better he
understood our Constitution and the procedures of the
Senate, the more effective he would be as a Senator. He
knew the importance of understanding the rules of our
legislative process in every detail. The better he became
at mastering the process by which our laws were made, the
better he knew he would be at producing the outcome he was
committed to achieving for the people of West Virginia and
the Nation. I am sure that is why he always carried a copy
The line-item veto was passed before I got to the
Senate, but Senator Byrd had sued to have it stricken.
Most of his Senate career had been as chairman of the
Appropriations Committee or the ranking member. He pointed
out that Congress, according to the Constitution, is
supposed to make spending decisions, not the President. He
always pointed out that we do not work for the President
of the United States; we work with the President as a
separate but equal branch of government. He would guard us
against infringement by the President using the third
branch of government, and he was successful.
Although his life was marked by many triumphs, he was
not without his personal tragedies. I have always believed
that the work we do begins at home, and that is why I will
never forget the strength of his marriage and what a
tremendous loss it was for him when his wife passed away.
No one knew him better than she did, and without her by
his side life became ever more difficult. His health began
I remember going to his wife's funeral. It was very well
done. When my wife and I were on our way home, we
commented that the endearing and astounding thing about
the funeral was that it was about her. He made sure her
achievements, her family, her efforts and successes were
the focus. As famous as Senator Byrd was, the comments
that were made that day were about her and not about him.
That says a lot about the relationship they had.
Although his health was declining, he was here as often
as he was able, an active part of the day-to-day workings
of the Senate. He would not and could not take it easy, no
matter what anyone told him. His heart was in the Senate;
his soul was in West Virginia. To stop what he loved to do
was for him and the people back home unthinkable.
One of Senator Byrd's favorite quotations comes to mind
today. He loved the Bible and quoted from it often. When
going through a difficult time in his life, he remembered
the words from the Book of Ecclesiastes: ``To everything
there is a season and a time for every purpose under
heaven.'' Now Senator Byrd has come to another time, as he
has reached the end of his seasons on God's green Earth.
He will be greatly missed, and he will never be forgotten.
I cannot conclude my remarks without paying a final
tribute to Senator Byrd by recalling his love of poetry
and the written word. We can all remember the way he would
enjoy sharing a favorite verse with us, much like this
one. Although the author is unknown, I am certain Senator
Byrd would not only recall it but know it well:
Life is but a stopping place,
A pause in what's to be,
A resting place along the road,
To sweet eternity.
We all have different journeys,
Different paths along the way,
We all were meant to learn some things,
But never meant to stay.
Our destination is a place,
Far greater than we know.
For some the journey's quicker,
For some the journey's slow.
And when the journey finally ends,
We'll claim a great reward,
And find an everlasting peace,
Together with the Lord.
My wife Diana joins in sending our heartfelt sympathy to
his family and many friends and for all the people who
worked for him and with him over the years. We will miss
him--the knowledge he had, the institutional memory he
had, the experiences and history he had been a part of and
in many instances was the main participant--the leader.
Probably only once in the history of a country does
someone like this come along. If he were here, he would
deny it but be pleased if we noted the similarity of what
he had done to what had been done in the ancient Roman
Senate about which he often talked.
In the end for Senator Byrd it was never about how much
time he spent in the Senate or on Earth but how well he
used the time he was given.
I yield the floor.
Mr. CONRAD. Mr. President, I rise to talk about the loss
of our senior colleague, Senator Robert C. Byrd. I had the
privilege and honor of serving with Senator Byrd for over
24 years in the Senate. I believe this body has lost a
For more than five decades, Robert C. Byrd served his
country, fought to protect the institution of the Senate,
and worked tirelessly for the people of West Virginia. The
people of West Virginia were never very far from the mind
of Robert C. Byrd. I know because I worked with him every
day for 24 years. Senator Byrd and his passing leave a
tremendous void for this body and for the Nation. He will
be greatly missed.
Senator Byrd was a great man, an exceptional person,
somebody who had lost his parents and, through sheer will,
made himself into a great man. He was a legend in the
Senate, the longest serving Senator in the history of the
United States and the longest serving lawmaker in
congressional history. The people of West Virginia elected
him to the Senate an amazing nine times and three times
before that to the House of Representatives. He served in
almost every leadership post in the Senate, including
twice as majority leader and for almost two decades as
chairman of the Appropriations Committee. He took an
incredible 18,500+ votes, a record which will never be
broken. At least that is my forecast. I do not know how
anybody will ever break a record of more than 18,500
Senator Byrd may be remembered most as the protector of
the institution of the Senate. This is an institution he
loved. More than that, this is an institution he revered
as part of the constitutional structure of this country.
He believed it had a special place in defending the
Constitution of the United States. He believed it played a
special role in preventing unwise legislation from
becoming law, and he believed it deeply.
He knew more about Senate history and Senate rules and
procedures than any other Member, and he used that
knowledge skillfully to defend this institution and to
ensure it continued to function in a manner consistent
with what the Founding Fathers intended. Senator Byrd did
not come to those beliefs lightly. He came to those
beliefs after the most thorough and very rigorous study of
our history. He was a master orator. How many of us can
remember Senator Byrd coming to this floor and having
Members come to the floor to listen to him because very
often his speeches were a history lesson--and not just
drawn from American history but from world history, going
back to the Roman Empire? When he was in really high
excitation, he loved to go through the various Roman
emperors and what brought them down, what led to the
decline of the Roman Empire, and what lessons we could
draw from that.
His speeches were riddled with quotes from great
leaders, references to American history and law, and
descriptions of that ancient Roman Senate--much of it from
memory. How many times did I hear Senator Byrd stand in
that spot or in the leader's spot and recite from memory a
lengthy poem or a speech from history? What a remarkable
man. The extent and the breadth of his knowledge was truly
Senator Byrd was also an expert on budget matters. In
fact, he was one of the principal authors of the 1974
Budget Act which established the congressional budget
process. He created and vigorously defended the Byrd rule,
which bears his name--a budget rule designed to stop the
abuse of the fast-track reconciliation process.
Let me just remind my colleagues of something Senator
Byrd did during the Clinton administration when the
administration had a health care proposal that was bogged
down. It could not pass because it would require 60 votes
in the Senate, and there were not 60 votes to be had. The
administration wanted to use the reconciliation process,
the fast-track process that allows legislation to be
passed with only a simple majority. Senator Byrd said no,
under no circumstances would he permit that to happen
because he believed that was a violation of the whole
basis of the reconciliation process which he had been
involved in and which he had helped design and which was
put in law solely for deficit reduction, in his view. He
believed any other use was an abuse of the process--the
process of reconciliation. So he said no to the President
of his own party on that President's No. 1 domestic
There is a lesson in that for all of us. When we were in
the midst of the consideration of using the reconciliation
process for that purpose during the Clinton administration
years, Senator Byrd told me, as a member of the Budget
Committee, ``Senator, always remember partisanship can go
too far. Our obligation, our first obligation, is to the
Nation and to this institution. If that means we have to
disagree with the President of our own party, so be it.''
I hope colleagues learn from that lesson as well.
Partisanship can go too far.
As the Budget Committee chairman, I had the privilege
and honor of working particularly close with Senator Byrd
after he joined the committee in 2001. The original idea
of the Budget Committee was that the chairman of the
Finance Committee would serve there, the chairman of the
Appropriations Committee would serve there, and the
chairmen of other relevant major committees would serve
there so that the Budget Committee would put together the
priorities of the United States. Senator Byrd had an acute
understanding of that history.
But also Senator Byrd never forgot who sent him to
Washington. He tenaciously fought for West Virginia
throughout his career and ensured his small, rural State
had a powerful voice in the Halls of the Capitol. He never
forgot where he came from. I remember well his exchange at
a Budget Committee hearing in 2002 with then-Treasury
Secretary Paul O'Neill, and Senator Byrd proudly and
emotionally described his own humble upbringing because
Senator Byrd came from very straightened circumstances. He
came from a very modest background. He was an orphan. In
fact, he carried a name which was not his birth name. His
birth name was a different name than Robert C. Byrd. But
when relatives took him in, they gave him their family
Robert C. Byrd remembered those earliest days. He
remembered what it was to struggle. He remembered what it
was to have very little. He remembered what it was to
wonder where your next meal was coming from and whether
you were going to have a roof over your head. Senator Byrd
remembered, and he was faithful to those memories.
Senator Byrd loved his wife Erma. He loved his daughters
Mona and Marjorie and his grandchildren and great-
I want to say to the members of the family, Senator Byrd
was intensely proud of you. I hope the children and
grandchildren will get that message, that Senator Byrd was
intensely proud of each and every one of you. He spoke
about you often and in loving terms, and you should know
Of course, we all know he loved his little dog Billy,
and he loved his dog Trouble. In fact, I think he had
multiple dogs named Trouble.
Senator Byrd loved West Virginia, he loved this
institution, and he loved our country. I am deeply
saddened by the passing of Senator Byrd. His immense
knowledge and his spirit will be missed. His values will
be missed. But I am comforted in knowing that our friend
Robert is now reunited with his beloved wife Erma. I know
his legacy will live on in this body and this Nation
I thank the Chair and yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona is
Mr. KYL. Mr. President, during a recordbreaking six
decades of public service, Senator Byrd served this Nation
with diligence and spirit. As a legislator, Senator Byrd
had many notable qualities, particularly his legendary
oratory skills and his masterful knowledge of Senate
procedure. Having authored a four-volume history of this
Chamber, he understood its nuances and intricacies, and he
was an articulate spokesman for protecting procedural
Senator Byrd kept a copy of the Constitution in his
pocket, and he could recite it from memory. He was always
first to remind us that the Framers intended the Senate to
be different from the House of Representatives and to
stand as a bastion of individual and minority rights. He
celebrated these distinctions serving as they do the
fundamental principle of checks and balances within the
At a recent Rules Committee hearing, Senator Byrd said:
The Senate is the only place in government where the
rights of a numerical minority are so protected. The
Senate is a forum of the States, where regardless of size
or population, all States have an equal voice. ... Without
the protection of unlimited debate, small States like West
Virginia might be trampled. Extended deliberation and
debate--when employed judiciously--protect every Senator,
and the interests of their constituency, and are essential
to the protection of the liberties of a free people.
Senator Byrd's insights, expertise, and constitutional
scholarship will truly be missed. They are a great part of
his legacy, one that I hope will be honored for
On a personal note, I will mention that while Senator
Byrd and I did not share a perspective on many matters of
public policy, we had a common appreciation for bluegrass
music. I always enjoyed talking with him about that
subject. He was a talented fiddler, playing on stage, on
television, and while campaigning for office. He even
recorded an album entitled Mountain Fiddler. He gave me a
copy, and I was very impressed with his skill.
Robert Byrd's knowledge, his hard work, his high spirit,
and dedication to the people of West Virginia will always
be remembered. My wife Caryll and I extend our thoughts
and prayers to his family.
Mr. BAUCUS. Mr. President, I, too, wish to say some
words on the passing of our good friend and former leader,
Robert C. Byrd.
It is difficult to sum up in words the thoughts and
feelings one has for a departed friend whom one has known
so long. I had the pleasure of serving with Senator Byrd
my entire career in the Senate. I knew, I liked, and I
respected Robert C. Byrd for more than 30 years.
It is doubly difficult to put into words thoughts that
adequately reflect such a presence in the Senate. Robert
C. Byrd was a singular Senator. He was a Senator's
Senator. There was no title he prized more than that of
When I came to the Senate, Robert C. Byrd had succeeded
my mentor, Mike Mansfield, as majority leader. As Robert
Byrd was fond of noting, he served as majority leader and
then minority leader and then back as majority leader. He
saw the leadership of the Senate from both sides, and his
experience seasoned his leadership.
As proud as he was to earn the title of ``Senator,'' he
was even more proud that as a Senator he represented the
people of his State. I deeply believe that is one of the
finest things one can say about a fellow Senator. For more
than 50 years, he was a strong voice for the people of
Robert Byrd was a strong voice for democracy. He knew
the rules of the Senate better than any person alive. He
fought to preserve the traditions and customs of what he
truly believed is the world's greatest deliberative body.
As my colleagues know, Robert Byrd cast more votes than
any other Senator in the history of our Republic. I can
recall when he cast his 18,000th vote. That vote just
happened to have been on a motion to invoke cloture on an
amendment offered by this Senator. The Senate did not
invoke cloture that day. That is the way the Senate's
rules often work. No matter the outcome, Senator Byrd was
foremost in the defense of those rules. And Senator Byrd
was foremost in the defense of the Constitution of the
Senator Byrd was a student of history more than any
other Senator. Those of us who were here will not soon
forget Senator Byrd's series of addresses on the history
of the Senate. And those of us who were here will not soon
forget his series of addresses on the Senate of the Roman
Republic. He knew that Senate too.
Senator Byrd was a teacher. I can recall meeting with
Senator Byrd on a highway bill. He and I both long
believed passionately in the importance of our Nation's
highways. At this one occasion, I recall being impatient
about enacting the highway bill on which we were working.
I can also recall the sage advice Senator Byrd gave me
about the process, about the procedures, and about the
personalities of how to get that bill through the Senate.
As I look back on that meeting, I think of all the
occasions Senator Byrd took the time to teach others of us
about the Senate. He taught his fellow Senators. He taught
visiting dignitaries from other countries.
I might add parenthetically that it was not too many
years ago when he was visiting Great Britain with some
Senators and meeting with some Parliamentarians in Great
Britain, and the subject of British monarchs came up, and
it was only Senator Byrd who knew them all. He stood up,
and he gave the name of every British monarch and the
dates they served, up to the present. No other person in
the room, including the members of the British Parliament,
could do so. Robert C. Byrd did.
He taught class after class of Senate pages.
Robert Byrd will leave a legacy in the laws of the
United States. He will leave a legacy in the rules and
precedents of the Senate, and he will leave a living
legacy in all the people who learned about the Senate at
the knee of this great master.
Robert Byrd was an orator. One might say he was the last
of a breed. He spoke in a style that recalled his roots
before microphones and amplification. He spoke memorably.
He spoke like orators used to speak.
Many of us recall celebrated speeches of Robert C. Byrd.
I will read an extended quotation from one speech that
sums up Robert Byrd's strong feelings for the Constitution
and the Senate he loved so well.
On October 13, 1989, many of us gathered to hear Robert
C. Byrd speak. This is what he said:
Mr. President, I close by saying, as I began, that human
ingenuity can always find a way to circumvent a process
... . But I have regained my faith. We are told in the
Scriptures: ``Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy
fathers have set.''
The Constitution is the old landmark which they have
set. And if we do not rise to the call of the moment and
take a stand, take a strong stand against our own personal
interests or against party interests, and stand for the
Constitution, then how might we face our children and
grandchildren when they ask of us as Caesar did to the
centurion, ``How do we fare today?'' And the centurion
replied, ``You will be victorious. As for myself, whether
I live or die, tonight I shall have earned the praise of
And Robert C. Byrd concluded:
As [Aaron] Burr bade goodbye to the Senate over which he
had presided for 4 years, this is what he said. And I
close with his words because I think they may well have
been written for a moment like this. He said, ``This House
is a sanctuary; a citadel of law, of order, and of
liberty, and it is here--it is here--in this exalted
refuge--here, if anywhere, will resistance be made to the
storms of political phrensy and the silent arts of
corruption; and if the Constitution be destined ever to
perish by the sacrilegious hands of the demagogue or the
usurper, which God averts, its expiring agonies will be
witnessed on this floor.''
So today, Mr. President, I will close my words for my
friend, Robert C. Byrd, noting that in life he was
victorious. As for myself, whether I succeed or not,
whether I live or die, today I can count no greater praise
than to say I served with Robert C. Byrd.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas is
Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, I think the remarks that
were given by my colleague from Montana about Senator Byrd
were certainly appropriate, and I know anytime we lose one
of our Members who has been sitting with us for so long,
there is a void to fill.
What I appreciated about Senator Byrd is how much he
respected the Senate itself and protected the rights of
the Senate against anyone who he believed overstepped the
rights of the Senate and the decorum and protocol of the
Senate. He was truly a defender of this body. He loved it,
and I think we all respected him for that.
Mr. BOND. Mr. President, I rise to say a few words about
our departed colleague.
This week the Senate lost its longest serving Member not
only of the Senate but of the Congress. More than that,
the Nation lost a true servant of the people.
From humble beginnings, Senator Byrd was, first and
foremost, a champion for the people of West Virginia.
Throughout his many years of service, there has been no
greater student, teacher, and protector of the Senate
institution. Senator Byrd was not only a guardian of the
Senate institution, he was a guardian of the rights our
Nation holds dear, which is why his most constant
companion was the Constitution of the United States in his
I had the opportunity, when I first arrived in the
Senate in 1990, to work on the acid rain trading
provisions in the Clean Air Act. It was known as the Byrd-
Bond amendment. We called it the Bond-Byrd amendment back
in Missouri. The acid rain trading system has worked
because there was technology available. The cost enabled
the equitable sharing of the major utilities which had to
install expensive equipment that provided more benefit
than they needed so they could sell off the other parts of
their credits to smaller companies that could not afford
to install expensive equipment. That was just a small
success for Senator Byrd.
He was a true champion. He will be missed on the Senate
floor. My thoughts and prayers are with Senator Byrd's
family, his staff, and the people of West Virginia.
Mr. LeMIEUX. Mr. President, I see the roses on the desk
of our colleague from West Virginia, as I did in the Armed
Services Committee meeting I left a few minutes ago and
will return to shortly. It makes me think that what we do
here on a day-to-day basis seems very small compared to
the legacy Senator Byrd has left us over his many years as
the longest serving Member of Congress. We will do our
best in the time we have to honor his legacy and thank him
today and every day going forward for what he has done for
this institution. He kept the flame. He understood the
importance of this body constitutionally, and he
understood that the rules and procedures of this body were
its lifeblood and really understood them and recognized
them more than anyone else who has served in this Chamber
and spent his life's work protecting them and
memorializing them. To him, we owe a great commendation.
Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I rise today to pay tribute
to a great Senator and a friend and mentor of mine,
Senator Robert C. Byrd. When I look at his desk, a place
from which he spoke such powerful words so many times, it
is hard to believe he will not be on the floor of the
Senate speaking powerfully about what he believed in--the
people of West Virginia and the great issues of our day.
He will be sorely missed.
He was orphaned as a child and grew up poor. He often
told us about his foster father, who was a coal miner, who
had to work hard to scrape together food and shelter for
their family. He always spoke of working men and women and
those who were working hard and having a hard time making
ends meet. I know his heart was always with them.
From a young age, Senator Byrd learned the importance of
hard work, dedication, and perseverance--skills that would
serve him well throughout his long and very distinguished
After graduating from high school at the top of his
class in 1934, he married his high school sweetheart Erma.
Many of us knew her, and those who didn't knew of her
because he would speak continually about the love of his
life, his sweetheart Erma. After school, he went on to
work at a number of odd jobs. He worked as a butcher
during the Great Depression, earning less than $15 a week.
He worked as a gas station attendant. During World War II,
he was a welder in a shipyard in Baltimore. But he never
forgot his childhood and where he came from. He knew how
education had transformed his own life, and he never
stopped trying to give every American that same
After high school he couldn't afford to go to college.
But after he was elected to the House of Representatives
in 1952, he put himself through law school--the only
Member of Congress ever to do that while in office. He
joked that Erma put three children through school--himself
and their two daughters.
His wife was the most important person in the world to
him, and I know he was deeply saddened when Erma died in
2006, as were all of us who served in the Senate with him
at that time.
He was a great mentor, a great friend, a great advocate
for working families of Michigan and of America. I was
proud to join with him many times as we fought for
American workers, whether they were mine workers in West
Virginia or auto workers in Michigan.
He loved West Virginia, the people and the landscape.
One of his favorite Bible verses was from Psalms: ``I will
lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my
help.'' In my office I proudly display a painting that
Senator Byrd gave to me, which he painted himself while
working in Baltimore so he could remember those hills and
mountains of his childhood. Today, when I see that
painting, I remember that Senator who gave so much for the
people of West Virginia and the people of America. I was
proud to stand with him as one of the 23--as he reminded
me frequently--the 23 who opposed the original war in Iraq
and stood up for our men and women who have bravely served
us around the world as well.
Senator Robert C. Byrd--the Senate is a better place
because of him and he will be sorely missed.
Mr. NELSON of Florida. Mr. President, 10 years ago I
gave my maiden speech on the floor of the Senate. I was at
a desk on the far side of the Chamber. In the course of
that speech, I happened to mention that it was my maiden
speech. I had been here about a month. I went on. I can
even remember the subject. It was the deficit, since we
were in a unique position that we actually had a surplus
in the Federal Government and I did not want to see that
surplus piddled away. I started talking about the budget
and why it was necessary to keep the surplus, to utilize
the surplus to pay down the national debt over a 10-year
Some minutes later, after I had said this was my maiden
speech, all of a sudden the doors to the Chamber flung
open and in came Senator Robert Byrd. As I was giving this
first speech on the floor of the Senate, the greatest
deliberative body in the world, he went over to his desk--
the one that is draped with black cloth, and upon it sits
the vase of flowers to note his passing--he sat there and
he looked at me and listened to the rest of that oration.
As I concluded, the Senator from West Virginia rose and
said, ``Will the Senator from Florida yield?''
And I said, ``Of course I yield.''
He proceeded, off the top of his head, from that
incredible, detailed memory, to lay out the history of
maiden speeches on the floor of the Senate. He had been
back in his office, and he had heard me, in the course of
the audio from the television, say this was my maiden
speech. He came up and went into this long discourse about
the importance of maiden speeches and who were the ones
who had given them and how long into their service as a
new Senator they had waited to give them.
Later on, as we were debating that budget, the great
orator from West Virginia took the floor and began talking
about a tax cut the Senate was considering; a tax cut he
voted against, and so did this Senator from Florida. The
Senator from West Virginia talked about this tax cut that
was going to be a staggering $1.6 trillion. This is what
the great senior Senator from West Virginia said. ``That
is $1,600 for every minute since Jesus Christ was born,''
Senator Byrd declared. He went on to say, ``If we go for
this big tax cut ... that money ... is gone.''
We all like tax cuts, but what we have to have is a
balance of tax cuts and spending cuts, given the position
then that we had a surplus, and how to responsibly use
that surplus to pay down the national debt. What we have
is a reversal of that. We, of course, have a huge deficit
because the revenues are not coming in to match the
expenditures and, thus, additional problems that have
accrued from not listening to the Senator who sat in that
black-draped desk. No one else spoke like Senator Byrd or
was as original as he was.
As we mark the passing of our dear colleague who, it has
been said many times, was the longest serving Federal
lawmaker since the founding of the Republic, as we mourn
his passing, many will remember the Senator from West
Virginia by the numbers and by the records he set. He made
history. He brought depth and grace to the Senate. He is
forever enshrined as a major part of its history.
I can tell you that 10 years ago, we freshmen had the
blessing of being tutored--no, more than tutored; we were
students, we were pupils of the master teacher. He taught
us the rules, so important to the conduct of business in
this body. But he taught us something more. He taught us
decorum. He taught us how to preside as the Presiding
Officer. He taught us to be respectful, that when you are
presiding, you absolutely listen to the speaker. He taught
us so much.
He was elected to no fewer than nine terms in the
Senate. He served first in the House for 6 years. He had
cast over 18,000 votes. He presided over both the longest
session of the Senate and the shortest. We had no fewer
than 12 Presidents since he first took office.
But the numbers do not tell the full story. Robert Byrd
was one of the greatest advocates for just plain folks and
especially if they came from West Virginia. He gave them
his all, after his first and foremost love, his devotion
to his wife Erma. In the spirit of Thomas Jefferson,
Robert Byrd always put public service ahead of personal
On my desk in my Senate office, as I would suspect on
many other Senators' desks, are copies of Senator Byrd's
addresses on the history of the Senate--more than 100 of
those speeches delivered over a 10-year period. Those are
the only books that are set on my personal desk with book
ends of two American eagles. That study has been called
the most ambitious study of the Senate ever undertaken.
Every day, those books remind me of the living history of
this institution and its vital role in our democracy.
Senator Byrd made rare and noble contributions to his
family, his friends, his State, his country, and to this
Senate. He was, in a living person, the walking history
book of the Senate, which he could recite. Now, as he has
gone on to the ages, he will be known as the historian of
the Senate. And now forever for history, he will be one of
the major parts of the Senate's history.
We mourn his passing, we miss him personally, we grieve
for his family, and we are thankful there was a public
servant who surely the Lord would say: Well done, thy good
and faithful servant.
Mr. UDALL of New Mexico. Mr. President, I rise today to
join my colleagues as we mourn the death and celebrate the
life of a man who touched all of ours; a man who loved his
country, loved the Senate, and dedicated his life to
preserving its traditions; a man who above all cherished
his State and who every day considered it his highest
honor to represent her people.
On Monday morning, Senator Robert Byrd took his rightful
place in our history books as a titan of the Senate. On
Thursday we will honor him as his body lies in state in
this Chamber where he served longer than any other Senator
in our history. Today, we grieve his loss with his family
and with the entire country.
My family's history with Senator Byrd goes back many
years. My father, before he became Secretary of the
Interior, served with Senator Byrd, then Congressman Byrd,
in the House of Representatives. A half century later, my
father's honor became my own. I am proud to have had the
privilege of serving in this Chamber with Senator Byrd, of
experiencing first hand his distinguished service and
Senator Byrd will be remembered for many things. He will
be remembered for his historic length of service; for his
rise from humble roots to the pinnacles of political
power; for his encyclopedic knowledge of Senate rules and
procedure; and for his love of his wife of 68 years, Erma.
What I will remember Senator Byrd for is his willingness
to stand up and fight for what he believed in. Two of the
most pressing issues of the past decade are perfect
examples--the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. From the very
beginning, Senator Byrd was a voice of opposition to the
Iraq war. He delivered what will become one of his most
memorable speeches in the days leading up to the Senate's
vote to authorize its funding. He spoke out against a war
at a time when any opposition to the President's path
meant putting his own political future in jeopardy. But he
did not waiver.
Here is part of what he said:
No one supports Saddam Hussein. If he were to disappear
tomorrow, no one would shed a tear around the world. I
would not. My handkerchief would remain dry. But the
principle of one government deciding to eliminate another
government, using force to do so, and taking that action
in spite of world disapproval is a very disquieting thing.
I am concerned that it has the effect of destabilizing the
world community of nations. I am concerned that it fosters
a climate of suspicion and mistrust in U.S. relations with
other nations. The United States is not a rogue nation,
given to unilateral action in the face of worldwide
Eight years and thousands of American lives lost later,
his words read as prophetic.
But he didn't stop there. Last year--this time with his
party holding the reins of power in both the White House
and the Congress--he did the same thing. Seven years had
passed, and Senator Byrd was older and more fragile than
ever before. None of that stopped him from getting to the
Senate floor that day. How did I know this? I had a front
row seat as the Presiding Officer of the Senate that day.
This time, he questioned the proposed buildup of troops
in Afghanistan--a proposal I myself had questioned many
times as well. Here is what Senator Byrd said:
I have become deeply concerned that in the 8 years since
the September 11 attacks, the reason for the U.S. military
mission in Afghanistan has become lost, consumed in some
broader scheme of nation-building which has clouded our
purpose and obscured our reasoning.
... President Obama and the Congress must reassess and
refocus on our original and most important objective--
namely emasculating a terrorist network that has proved
its ability to inflict harm on the United States.
Time will tell if Senator Byrd's concerns about
Afghanistan prove as prescient as those he expressed about
Iraq almost a decade ago. Time also will tell if we heed
What is clear is that Senator Byrd understood the
importance of asking the tough questions, regardless of
their impact on himself personally or professionally. In
this regard, we could all learn a little bit from Senator
I know my Senate colleagues will agree with me when I
say this institution, this country, this democracy lost a
powerful advocate this week, and all of us in this Chamber
lost a good friend.
Today I join with my colleagues in expressing my deepest
sympathy to Senator Byrd's family for their loss and
remembering a man whose legend and legacy will endure
beyond us all.
Mr. KAUFMAN. Mr. President, I wish to spend a few
minutes talking about a truly great Federal employee, and
that is Senator Robert C. Byrd.
He personified all the things I try to talk about once a
week, because Robert Byrd was a Federal employee. Robert
Byrd was a creature of the U.S. Senate. Robert Byrd had
his family, and he was a great family man, but the Senate
was also his family, and he cared about everybody here.
I remember the first time I ever had contact with
Senator Byrd was in 1972. On election day in 1972, Joe
Biden, a 29-year-old candidate for the U.S. Senate, was
elected to the Senate running against one of the most
popular officials we ever had in the State of Delaware, a
wonderful public servant and Federal employee, Caleb
Boggs, who had been a Congressman and Governor before he
became a Senator.
Just 6 weeks later, on December 18, when his wife and
two sons and daughter were bringing their Christmas tree
home, the car was hit by a tractor trailer and Senator
Biden's wife and daughter were killed.
Shortly after that, my church, St. Mary Magdalen in
Wilmington, Delaware, had a memorial service for his wife
and daughter. I will never forget, it was a dark night. It
was in December. It was just an ugly night out. The church
was full, and it was a very moving ceremony. After it was
over, I found out that Senator Robert Byrd had driven
himself to Wilmington, Delaware, come into the church,
stood in the back of the church for the entire service,
and then turned around and drove home. And there are
hundreds of stories like that where Robert Byrd
demonstrated his great love for the Senate and for the
people of the Senate.
There are traditions he instilled in the Senate and
traditions he kept alive in the Senate. I remember when he
was majority leader, I will tell you what, there were lots
of things that just never happened because Senator Byrd
was going to make sure we stuck to the traditions of the
Senate. So I wish to recognize Senator Robert Byrd as a
great Federal employee.
Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I join all Americans in
mourning the passing of Senator Robert C. Byrd. For more
than five decades, Senator Robert Byrd served his home
State, his beloved West Virginia, with a dedication that
is unsurpassed in our Nation's history.
Senator Byrd was legendary for that commitment to his
State, for his outstanding service as both the Senate's
majority and minority leader, and for his staunch defense
of the U.S. Constitution throughout his many years of
When I arrived in the Senate, Senator Byrd was in the
midst of his sixth term, President pro tempore of the
Senate, chairman of the Appropriations Committee and
already a giant of the institution. It was an honor to
work beside him in this body.
Senator Byrd was the longest serving Member of Congress
in our Nation's history, elected to an unprecedented ninth
term in the Senate in 2006. It was a long road from his
humble beginnings in rural West Virginia to his long and
distinguished service here. Along the way, Senator Byrd's
life was characterized by hard work and a steely
And of all the things he was determined to do, perhaps
the most significant was his determination to get an
education. Senator Byrd prized education, and fought to
get one for himself despite difficult odds. That long
effort culminated in Senator Byrd earning his law degree,
after 10 years of night classes as he served in Congress
by day. He was 46 years old when he graduated, and
President John F. Kennedy presented him with the diploma.
He shared that love of learning as a champion of
continuing education, and through the establishment of the
Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program, which provides
scholarships to high school seniors who show promise of
continued excellence in postsecondary education.
Senator Byrd was dedicated to the Senate and served an
invaluable role as a historian of the institution. He
wrote a distinguished multivolume history of the Senate,
and also authored several other books. In fact when I
drafted my proposed constitutional amendment on Senate
vacancies, I consulted one of his volumes on Senate
history. He had written a chapter on the 17th Amendment to
the Constitution that was very helpful in putting the
issue of Senate vacancies in a historical context.
As a student of Senate history, both the U.S. Senate and
the Roman Senate, he was also a passionate defender of the
powers of the legislative branch. One would expect no less
of a man so devoted to our Constitution. Senator Byrd was
eloquent as he spoke about the need to stand up for our
Constitution and its principles here in the Senate, and
faithfully carried a copy of the Constitution with him
every day. He was very proud of his efforts to encourage
students to learn more about this document and our great
In Senator Byrd's lifetime of leadership, he worked on
many important issues. As the Senate's majority leader, he
helped to lead the fight against the undue influence of
money in politics in an effort with then-Senator David
Boren of Oklahoma. Together they sponsored campaign
finance legislation and worked to pass it in what has been
described as ``one of the most extraordinary exhibitions
of perseverance on the Senate floor, as Byrd led the
Senate through eight unsuccessful votes to end a
filibuster.'' While that legislation stalled, it was one
of the efforts that paved the way for later reforms, and I
am grateful for his efforts.
I respected him for that, and for so many of the
principled stands he took during our service together,
including his opposition to the Iraq war. He brought
tremendous wisdom and insight to our work here and I know
how much those gifts will be missed.
Robert C. Byrd was a man who sought to learn every day
of his life, and in turn taught all of us a great deal. He
taught us about our Nation's history, about the people he
represented, and about the institution of the Senate he
loved. While Senator Byrd's passing is a loss for the
Nation, his legacy of innumerable achievements will live
on for many years to come. My thoughts are with his family
and many friends today.
Mr. JOHNSON. Mr. President, on Monday we lost a
colleague and dear friend with the passing of Senator
Robert C. Byrd. My deepest sympathy goes out to his
family, friends, dedicated staff, and the people of West
Virginia. Senator Byrd was truly a giant among Senators.
His presence will be greatly missed.
Few have had the command of history that Senator Byrd
possessed, and I suspect none have matched his knowledge
of the U.S. Constitution and the Senate in which he
served. Senator Byrd never passed up the opportunity to
give a history lesson, delivering impassioned speeches
peppered with poetry, lessons from ancient Rome, and his
unique understanding of the workings of this Chamber. He
also never forgot to remind us of the importance of
Mother's Day, the beauty of the first day of spring, or
how devoted he was to his beloved wife Erma.
Senator Byrd held fiercely to his beliefs. Yet, he had
the humility and wisdom to change beliefs he realized were
wrong. History will remember Senator Byrd, not only for
his numerous records of service, but for his unwavering
commitment to education, public infrastructure, and the
State of West Virginia.
This year, 19 outstanding high school students from my
home State of South Dakota joined the ranks of thousands
of Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship recipients that are
furthering their education, in part because of Senator
Byrd's belief in the value of higher education. He
embodied that belief in his own life, earning a law degree
while serving in Congress and striving to continue
learning each day.
Senator Byrd also understood the value of investing in
the small, sometimes overlooked communities of his State.
Where others saw ``pork,'' he saw jobs, opportunities, and
hope for hard-working Americans. He understood--better
than most--that without roads, clean water, and reliable
utilities, rural communities will struggle to reach their
Though he would later ``walk with Kings, meet Prime
Ministers and debate with Presidents,'' Senator Byrd never
forgot his roots in the hills of West Virginia. West
Virginia lost a true champion, but his mark on the State
will last far longer than even his half century in
I am honored to have served with Senator Byrd. This
institution is a better place for his time here.
SENATE RESOLUTION 574--RELATIVE TO THE MEMORIAL
OBSERVANCES OF THE HONORABLE ROBERT C. BYRD, LATE A
SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA
Mr. REID (for himself and Mr. McConnell) submitted the
following resolution; which was considered and agreed to:
S. Res. 574
Whereas, The Senate has heard with profound sorrow and
deep regret the announcement of the death of the Honorable
Robert C. Byrd, late a Senator from the State of West
Virginia: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the memorial observances of the Honorable
Robert C. Byrd, late a Senator from the State of West
Virginia be held in the Senate Chamber on Thursday, July
1, 2010, beginning at 10:00 a.m., and that the Senate
attend the same.
Resolved, That paragraph 1 of Rule IV of the Rules for
the Regulation of the Senate Wing of the United States
Capitol (prohibiting the taking of pictures in the Senate
Chamber) be temporarily suspended for the sole and
specific purpose of permitting the Senate Photographic
Studio to photograph this memorial observance.
Resolved, That the Sergeant at Arms be directed to make
necessary and appropriate arrangements in connection with
the memorial observances in the Senate Chamber.
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate communicate
these resolutions to the House of Representatives,
transmit an enrolled copy thereof to the family of the
deceased, and invite the House of Representatives and the
family of the deceased to attend the memorial observances
in the Senate Chamber.
Resolved, That invitations be extended to the President
of the United States, the Vice President of the United
States, and the members of the Cabinet, the Chief Justice
and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United
States, the Diplomatic Corps (through the Secretary of
State), the Chief of Staff of the Army, the Chief of Naval
Operations of the Navy, the Major General Commandant of
the Marine Corps, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and
the Commandant of the Coast Guard to attend the memorial
observances in the Senate Chamber.
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 65--PROVIDING FOR THE USE OF
THE CATAFALQUE SITUATED IN THE EXHIBITION HALL OF THE
CAPITOL VISITOR CENTER IN CONNECTION WITH MEMORIAL
SERVICES TO BE CONDUCTED IN THE U.S. SENATE CHAMBER FOR
THE HONORABLE ROBERT C. BYRD, LATE A SENATOR FROM THE
STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA
Mr. REID (for himself and Mr. McConnell) submitted the
following concurrent resolution; which was considered and
S. Con. Res. 65
Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives
concurring), That the Architect of the Capitol is
authorized and directed to transfer the catafalque which
is situated in the Exhibition Hall of the Capitol Visitor
Center to the Senate Chamber so that such catafalque may
be used in connection with services to be conducted there
for the Honorable Robert C. Byrd, late a Senator from the
State of West Virginia.
ORDER FOR PRINTING OF TRIBUTES
Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that
tributes to Robert C. Byrd, late a Senator from West
Virginia, be printed as a Senate document, and that
Members have until 12 noon, Friday, August 6, 2010, to
submit said tributes.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, it is with deep sadness that
I rise to honor my colleague and friend, Senator Robert C.
Byrd. I look at the simple eloquence of the roses and the
black felt on his desk, and he rises above that and hovers
above us in just about everything we do.
The admiration that all of us in this body have for
Senator Byrd is genuine and palpable. We miss him dearly,
and I know I speak for the entire Senate when I say our
thoughts and prayers are with Senator Byrd's family as
they mourn his passing.
Mr. President, no one loved the Senate more than Robert
Byrd. He devoted his life to this august institution and,
in doing so, became an institution himself. He is a
legend--a man who embodied the best ideals of this body.
It is fitting that on this day we remember Senator Byrd
the Senate is undertaking one of its most important
constitutionally mandated responsibilities: the
confirmation hearings for a Supreme Court Associate
Senator Byrd would remind us that we are in a process
where the first branch of government is giving its advice
and consent to a selection from the second branch of
government in choosing someone to sit on the highest part
of the third branch of government.
He loved the Constitution, he loved the Senate, he loved
America, and he came from the bosom of America.
I am struck by the history of this moment. We read about
the great Senators who served in this body--the Websters
and the Clays, the LaFollettes and the Wagners. Well, I
cannot help but feel privileged to have served, in my
brief time--certainly compared to the Senators here--with
a legend, with a man whose name will go down in history
beside those men as one of the great men in this body and
one of the great men in history.
On Thursday, Mr. President, Senator Byrd will make one
final visit to this Senate Chamber that he so loved. There
could be no more appropriate way for us to say goodbye to
him and honor him than to yield the Senate floor to him
for one last time.
People asked, why not the Rotunda? It was not that he
did not deserve tribute in the Rotunda, and, for sure,
tens of thousands would have lined up. But this is the
body he loved, and this is the body where his final day
here should be.
I would like to share a few brief thoughts and reflect
on Senator Byrd's service to the people of West Virginia
and the Nation.
The most important thing we should all remember about
Robert Byrd is his life story, for it embodies America,
the best of America. It embodies the American dream.
Because of his intelligence, his indefatigable energy, and
up-by-the-bootstraps determination, he rose from a
childhood marred by abject poverty to being three
heartbeats away from the Presidency.
He made mistakes in his earlier career, which he freely
admitted later. Who has not? But he just grew and grew and
grew. That is what great men do: they grow larger and
stronger and better as they go through life. That could
certainly be said of Senator Byrd.
Unlike many of the great men who preceded him, Senator
Byrd did not grow up as a member of a privileged class. He
was an orphan, raised in the Appalachian coal towns of
West Virginia. He graduated from high school at 16 as the
valedictorian, but like so many Americans of his day, he
was too poor and could not afford college.
So as a young Member of Congress, he worked his way
through law school, and, at age 46, he earned the
diploma--with honors--that had eluded him in his youth.
I remember his love of West Virginia. When I was new in
this body, just learning it--and part of the way I learned
it was by going to Senator Byrd's class on the rules of
the Senate; legendary to each freshman class of his time--
but one day I was just seated at my desk, and Senator Byrd
rose to speak. It was a Friday afternoon. I believe it was
in the springtime. Business was finished and everyone was
rushing home. As you know, Mr. President, I usually rush
home. I love to be in New York. But as I was getting ready
to leave, Senator Byrd rose, and his speech captivated me.
For 45 minutes he gave a speech on the beauty of West
Virginia in the springtime. The theme of the speech was to
urge visitors from other States to come experience it. It
was an amazing speech. It was almost like poetry. I am
sure Senator Byrd probably did not have to sit and spend
days preparing it. It just flowed off his lips, his love
of West Virginia, combined with his eloquence. It is one
of the speeches I will always remember in the Senate, and
I am just lucky and glad I was here for that moment.
Then, speaking of my State of New York, Senator Byrd did
not just touch West Virginia, he touched every State.
Because he was here for so long, of course, he had such
power but cared about each of the Members and their
The most striking moment I had with Senator Byrd
occurred in the wake of 9/11. It was the day after that
Senator Clinton and I went up to New York, and we saw the
devastation. We could smell death in the air, see the
anguished looks of people holding signs: Have you seen my
husband? Have you seen my wife? The towers were gone, but
people did not know who had survived and who had not. Most
did not, of course.
Then the next call we got, as we came back, was from
Senator Byrd. Senator Byrd said, ``Please come to my
office.'' We went to his office on the first floor of the
Capitol. He came to Senator Clinton and I and said,
``Chuck, Hillary, I want you to consider me the third
Senator from the great State of New York.''
We knew we needed help, and we needed it fast. Even
before we went to visit President Bush and asked him for
the help that New York needed, Senator Byrd, on his own,
invited us over and pledged his help. Like always, he
lived up to his word, not just in the next days or weeks
or months, but years. I would go to him 3, 4 years later
and say there is still this part of the promise made to
New York that hasn't been fulfilled. There he was, and he
did it. Without a doubt, the dear city I love, New York
City, would not have been able to recover as quickly or as
well without that man from the coalfields of West
Virginia, Senator Robert C. Byrd, helping us. He showed a
level of selflessness that is rarely seen, and I think I
can speak on behalf of Secretary Clinton and the people of
New York in telling Senator Byrd how grateful we are to
We all have so many memories of Senator Byrd, so many
things. We only served together a little less than 12
years, 11\1/2\ years, but he was like a jewel. He had so
many different facets that every one of us was touched by
him in many ways.
So I relate my last strong memory of Senator Byrd. The
Presiding Officer remembers as well because it was at a
hearing of the Rules Committee where we are now having a
series of hearings under the suggestion of the Presiding
Officer and leadership to decide whether we should reform
the filibuster rule and what we should do about it.
Senator Byrd, frail at that point, about a month ago, came
to our hearing room. He sat next to me and then gave one
of the best orations I have heard in a committee. He was
92. He turned the pages of his speech himself. That wasn't
so easy for him. It was clearly--knowing the way he
thought and his way of speaking--written completely by
him. It was an amazing statement. It was impassioned,
erudite, balanced, and, as the Presiding Officer
remembers, it electrified the room. It was an amazing tour
de force. The man cared so much about the Senate. Despite
the fact he was ailing, there he was because he loved the
Senate. His remarks, if my colleagues read them, were
balanced. He understood the problems, but he understood
the traditions, and he tried, as usual, to weave the two
There are few Senators who could do that, in the more
than 200-year history of this body, the way he could.
There are also few Senators in this body who fought as
hard for their States as Senator Byrd did. I certainly
admire the people who are here who become national leaders
but never forget where they came from. There is a tendency
among some who come to Washington to sort of forget where
they came from. Not Senator Byrd. All across West
Virginia, men and women are able to realize the American
dream because he fought for them. He was unrelenting and
unapologetic in his desire to improve the lives of West
Virginians by making generous investments in
infrastructure and research. He brought that State into
the future and afforded generations of West Virginians
good-paying jobs, allowing them to provide for their
families and have the dignity all Americans deserve.
Some of the more elite parts of the media would make fun
of what he did, but I thought our colleague, Senator
Rockefeller, said it best. I am paraphrasing; I read this
in the newspaper. He said Senator Byrd realized that until
you get a road and a water system to these isolated towns,
you couldn't open the door of the future for them, and he
knew that. Senator Byrd relentlessly, in town after town
after town, did that. He fought to increase access to
health care and ensure the people had the right to vote,
and he made sure every child in West Virginia had the
right to live up to his God-given potential through a
Every one of us could go on and on about Senator Byrd's
accomplishments, but I think what is even more important
than accomplishments is who he was as a person. He was
someone who knew where he stood but showed a profound
willingness to evolve, and that is a sign of extraordinary
character. It is all too easy for an elected official to
plug his ears and say: Sorry, that is my position; that is
the way it has always been, and that is the way it will
always be. Not Senator Byrd. He was unafraid to take new
arguments into consideration and expand his world view
What also struck me about him was his fundamental
humility, the best example of which is probably his
relationship with my dear friend and mentor, Ted Kennedy,
another legend in this body who is so sorely missed. Ted
somewhat unexpectedly ran against Senator Byrd to be the
Democratic whip in 1969. Senator Kennedy won. Two years
later there was a rematch and Senator Byrd became the
whip. One would think after this kind of animus that the
two of them would never come together, but in their lives
in the Senate they established a deep meaningful bond, a
tribute to both of them.
Senator Kennedy would tell me stories about Senator Byrd
and some of the things he had done, serious and humorous.
To me it is so profound that within a year we have lost
the two giants among whom I was proud and lucky to serve.
I will never forget when Senator Byrd, sick as he was,
was outside the steps of the Capitol to salute Ted Kennedy
after he passed earlier this year. It was Senator Byrd who
provided the crucial vote to fulfill Ted Kennedy's
lifelong passion: comprehensive health care reform. As
every Senator sat at their desk for the final passage
vote, the clerk called the roll. When Senator Byrd's name
was called, he raised his voice as loud as he could and
declared, ``Madam President, this is for my friend Ted
Those two friends, those two legends today are together
again in heaven, and I would love to be able to hear the
conversations and reminiscences between them.
Robert Byrd will be remembered forever. He will be
remembered as a man who loved this institution and guarded
its history. He will be remembered as a man who always
stood up for his State. He is a man who will be remembered
as someone who lived the American dream and fought to make
that dream a reality for countless others. Perhaps most of
all, he will be remembered as a loving father,
grandfather, and husband.
Today the Senate mourns, the people of West Virginia
mourn, the Nation mourns.
Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I rise to speak about
Senator Byrd, as many of my colleagues have, and make a
few comments about an extraordinary individual. Just the
sheer numbers are very impressive. He was married for 68
years, elected to 9 terms, had more than 20,000 days of
service in the Senate, approaching 19,000 roll call votes
cast, and had a 97 percent attendance record.
Senator Byrd was the majority leader from 1977 to 1980,
and again from 1987 to 1988. He was President pro tempore
four different times when his party was in the majority.
The Senator from West Virginia was known for his defense
of the Constitution and the institutional prerogatives of
the Senate. He was the author of five books, and he was an
avid fiddler. The first place I ever saw Senator Byrd was
playing the fiddle on television. Boy, he could play. It
was impressive to see somebody of his stature playing an
instrument so brilliantly.
In his biographical statement on his Web site, I found a
statement that I want to expand and build off of. It says:
In every corner of West Virginia, the people of the
Mountain State know that there is one man on whom they can
always depend: U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd. He has always
remained true to his faith and his family, while working
to build a better future for his State and his country.
His remaining true to his faith and family was at the
core of Senator Byrd and his longevity, and at the core of
While he spoke often and wrote well about the
institutional prerogatives of the Senate better than
anybody in the history of this body, it is that his life
centered around his core, remaining true to his faith and
his family. He was married for 68 years to his spouse,
Erma, who stayed by his side constantly, and of whom he
would speak often.
Senator Byrd and I would speak about his faith on the
floor frequently. He was a man of deep faith and a man of
strong convictions, and that was his centerpiece. He would
often speak on this floor about his faith.
I think what you saw in Senator Byrd in that statement
about his faith and his family is a cultural requirement
for the United States. This is a nation of strong faith, a
nation that values family. At the core of this country is
that cultural need and necessity, and the leaders of the
country need to have at their core a strong bearing within
them, and that is a part of their service. That was a big
part of Senator Byrd's service. His comments reflected the
way he lived. Often people say that the way you live
speaks louder than any words you say. That is what I found
with Senator Byrd. The way he lived was speaking louder
than any words.
It was the Senator's commitment within his family and
his willingness to live that and his faith that spoke
louder than any of his words. When we would talk about
these things, you could see that they were at the depth of
his soul and being. Whether we agreed or disagreed on a
number of things--and there were many disagreements I had
with him on policy issues, no question about that--you
could never challenge his core convictions. His faith and
commitment to his family were things that were obvious by
the way he lived. You could have this sort of gentlemanly
debate about topics that would come up, but you could
never question or challenge the character and heart and
soul of that.
What I found most endearing was Senator Byrd's
commitment to faith and family. He will be greatly missed
in this body. His treatise on the Senate that he gave to
all new Members--and to me as a new Member coming into the
Senate--I started it and got through a portion, not all of
it, but it was excellently written, well presented, and
certainly a good education as to what we should do in
preserving the constitutional integrity that the Founders
intended for this body to be. He, of course, was the
greatest defender of it.
Others have spoken more eloquently about Senator Byrd,
but I don't think any eloquence could match the eloquence
with which he lived his life--particularly toward his
faith and his family. That is what we should recognize the
Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, with the passing of our
colleague, Robert Byrd, a mighty oak in the forest of
Senate history has fallen. There are flowers on his desk,
but there is a tremendous void in our midst.
As we all know, Senator Byrd was the longest serving
Senator in the history of this body. But what was most
remarkable about Robert C. Byrd was not his longevity but
his unique stature and accomplishment in the Senate. No
individual in our long history has been a more tenacious
champion of the traditions, prerogatives, and rules of
Senator Byrd was very fond of noting how many Presidents
he had served under. He always answered, ``None.'' As he
explained it, he had never served under any President but
he had served with 12 Presidents as a proud member of a
separate and coequal branch of government.
Likewise, no individual has had greater reverence for
the Constitution and for our Founders' vision for an
assertive, independent legislative branch. As the Almanac
of American Politics says in its profile of Senator Byrd:
``He may come closer to the kind of Senator the Founding
Fathers had in mind than any other.'' For so many years,
if anyone on the Senate floor needed to look up something
in the Constitution, we knew where to turn. Senator Byrd
always carried a copy in his left breast pocket, directly
over his heart.
It was Senator Byrd's reverence for the Constitution
that led to what I consider to be arguably his finest hour
in the Senate--his outspoken opposition to the rush to war
in Iraq in 2002 and his fierce warning to his fellow
Senators that we would regret surrendering our power on
this war to the President. Senator Byrd's speeches at that
time opposing the invasion became a sensation around this
country and on the Internet. A white-haired Senator, well
into his eighties, became an icon and a folk hero to young
people in universities all across America. Why? Because
when President Bush was at the peak of his popularity and
power, Senator Byrd dared to say that the emperor--any
President--has no clothes when it comes to declaring war.
Senator Byrd said the reason given for the invasion--
Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction--was trumped
up, and he predicted the war would be a colossal mistake.
I remember those impassioned speeches he gave at that
time. If only we had taken the advice of the wise Senator
from West Virginia, how many young American lives--over
3,000--would not have been lost, perhaps 10 times that
many injured, carrying the wounds and scars of that war
for the remainder of their lives, not to mention the
nearly $1 trillion spent out of our Treasury for that war
Later, in his outstanding book, Losing America--I
recommend this book to every young person. I see our pages
sitting here. Pick up that book by Robert C. Byrd. It is
called Losing America. He just wrote it about 5 or 6 years
ago. It became an instant bestseller. It is a great book.
In that book, Losing America, Senator Byrd decried the
Senate's willingness to cave in to the President. He did
not care about whether the President was a Democrat or
Republican. He said cave in to any President--it is
readiness, as he put it, ``to salute the emperor.'' He
referred back to his earlier book he had written on the
Roman Senate, noting that it was ``the progressive decline
of the already supine [Roman] Senate'' that led to the
decline of the Roman Republic, and he warned that the same
could happen in America.
I have always had a special affinity for Senator Byrd
because we were both the sons of coal miners, both raised
in humble circumstances. I will miss seeing Robert Byrd at
his desk or in the well and going up to express my best
wishes and converse with him. He would always grab my
hand; he would look at me and say, ``We have coal miners'
blood running in our veins.'' We were the only two sons of
coal miners to serve in the Senate, at least at this time.
He always said that to me. I am going to miss that.
In reading about the Senator's early years--lifting
himself out of poverty before running for the West
Virginia Legislature in 1946--I was reminded of Thomas
Edison's remark that ``opportunity is missed by most
people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like
work.'' In his early days, Robert Byrd was dressed in
overalls, and he worked. But he made his opportunities. He
made his own opportunities with that relentless work, his
self-education, and striving always.
I will always appreciate the way he tutored me in the
ways of the Senate when I arrived in this body in 1985. I
was assigned to the Appropriations Committee, one of the
few freshman Senators to ever get that assignment. I will
not go into how all that happened, but I can remember
going to visit Senator Byrd--who then, of course, was the
ranking minority member, when I first came to the Senate,
on the Appropriations Committee--to ask for his guidance
and his willingness to work with me and to instruct me on
how to be a good member of the committee. For the next 25
years, he was either the chair of the committee or the
ranking member. So I was privileged to learn at the elbow
of a master appropriator and legislator.
During his more than 58 years in Congress, Senator Byrd
witnessed astonishing changes, when you think about it.
Our population during his service grew by more than 125
million. He served for 25 percent of the time we have been
a republic. There has been an explosion of new
technologies. America grew more prosperous, more diverse,
more powerful. But across those nearly six decades of
rapid change, there was one constant: Senator Byrd's
tireless service to his country; his passion for bringing
new opportunities to the people of West Virginia; his
dedication to this branch of government, the U.S.
Congress, and to this Chamber, the U.S. Senate.
Robert Byrd was a person of many accomplishments with a
rich legacy. In my brief time today, I wish to speak of
one area of his advocacy which I have had ample
opportunity to observe in my capacity both as the longtime
chair or ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee
for Education and as a longtime member and now chair of
the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
During all these years, Senator Byrd was passionately
committed to improving public education in the United
States and expanding access to higher education,
especially for those of modest means.
As we all know, as I said, he was raised in the
hardscrabble coalfields of southern West Virginia. His
family was poor, but they were rich in faith and values.
His adoptive parents nurtured in Robert Byrd a lifelong
passion for education and learning. He was valedictorian
of his high school class but too poor, too underprivileged
to go to college right away. Again, keep in mind, those
were the days before Pell grants and guaranteed loans or
even Byrd scholarships. He worked as a shipyard welder,
later as a butcher in a coal company town. It took him 12
years to save up enough money to start college. As we all
know, he was a U.S. Senator when he earned his law degree.
No other Member before or since has ever started and
finished law school while a Member of Congress.
But degrees do not begin to tell the story of the
education of Robert C. Byrd. He was the ultimate lifetime
learner. As I told him once, it was as though he had been
enrolled during the last seven decades in the Robert C.
Byrd School of Continuing Education. That always brought a
smile on that one. I guarantee no one could ever get a
better, more thorough education at any one of our
Senator Byrd's erudition bore fruit in no less than nine
books that he wrote and published over the last two
decades. We know he wrote the book on the Senate, a
masterful, four-volume history of this institution that
has become a classic. What my colleagues may not know is
he also authored a highly respected history of the Roman
There are some who joked--and I am sure he would not
mind me saying this because we said it to him many times
in the past--there are some who think Robert C. Byrd
served in the Roman Senate. I can tell you, that part of
the Byrd legacy and legend just is not so. We always said
that. It always brought a smile, and he always chuckled
when we talked about that. He was an expert on the Roman
Senate. He knew it, and he knew who served in the Roman
Senate and how it worked to bring down the Roman Empire.
I have talked at length about Senator Byrd's education
because this explains why he was so passionate about
ensuring every American has access to a quality public
education, both K-12 and higher education. Coming from a
poor background, Senator Byrd believed that a cardinal
responsibility of government is to provide a ladder of
opportunity so that everyone, no matter how humble a
background, has a shot at the American dream. Obviously,
the most important rungs on that ladder of opportunity
involve education, beginning with quality public schools,
including access to college and other forms of higher
During my quarter century now in this body, no one has
fought harder for public education than Senator Robert
Byrd. As longtime chairman, ranking member and, most
recently, the senior member of the Appropriations
Committee, he was the champion of education at every
turn--fighting to reduce class sizes, improve teacher
training, bringing new technologies into the classroom,
boosting access to higher education.
In 1985, my first year here in the Senate, he created
the only national merit-based college scholarship program
funded through the U.S. Department of Education. Congress
later named it in his honor. The Robert C. Byrd Honors
Scholarship Program is a federally funded, State-
administered scholarship program that rewards high school
seniors who have exhibited exceptional academic
excellence. Currently, there are more than 25,000 Byrd
scholars across the United States eligible for a $6,000
grant during 4 years in college.
I can remember speaking with him about this and the
funding of it, and he reminisced more than once with me
about how he was valedictorian of his class, and that he
so wanted to go on to higher education but, because of his
economic circumstances and where he lived, it wasn't
available. So he wanted to make sure that young men and
women today who exhibit that great excellence in academic
performance were not denied the opportunity to go to
college simply because of the circumstances of their
Senator Byrd has something in common with Winston
Churchill. Both were prolific writers, and both were major
players in the events they chronicled in their writings.
Senator Byrd was also a great student of literature, and
he loved to recite long poems from memory. I could never
understand how he could remember all of the poetry he
would recite here on the floor, in a committee meeting, or
sometimes in a meeting when a subject would come up and he
would remember a poem that perfectly fit the temper of
what people were talking about.
I am sure Senator Byrd knew The Canterbury Tales, a lot
of it probably by heart. In The Canterbury Tales,
describing the Clerk of Oxford, Chaucer might just as well
have been describing Robert C. Byrd. Chaucer wrote:
``Filled with moral virtue was his speech; And gladly
would he learn and gladly teach.''
Senator Byrd's speeches were a wonder to behold, full of
eloquence and erudition and moral virtue. Senator Byrd
never stopped learning and he never stopped teaching.
Americans for generations to come will continue to learn
from his writings and his example.
Senator Robert C. Byrd was a great Senator, a great
American, a loving and wonderful family man. He has both
written our Nation's history and has left his mark on it.
The United States of America has lost a patriotic son. We
have lost a wonderful friend and a mentor. Tomorrow, here
in the hallowed Chamber of the U.S. Senate, which he so
loved and served for so many years, Robert C. Byrd will
lie in state. We would do well to honor his memory by
making a renewed commitment to making the U.S. Senate work
and to work for all of the people of this country. May he
rest in peace with his beloved Erma, and may the Senate
always remember and honor his lifetime of service.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware is
Mr. KAUFMAN. Mr. President, I spoke about Senator Byrd
yesterday. One of the ways you measure anyone is by their
friends. The manner in which Senator Harkin just spoke
about Senator Byrd shows what a great man Senator Byrd
was, to have a friend as thoughtful and as caring as
Senator Harkin. They are both a credit to the Senate. ...
Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise today to join my
colleagues in mourning the loss of one of the Senate's
legendary Members--Robert C. Byrd, the honorable senior
Senator from the great State of West Virginia.
It wasn't too long ago that I looked right over there
and I saw a desk draped in black with roses and it was one
titan of the Senate--Senator Ted Kennedy. Today, I look
down here and I see a desk draped in black with white
roses and it is a second titan of the Senate.
I had the privilege of serving with Senator Byrd on the
Appropriations Committee for some 16 years. I have had
occasion to watch him. He could be very tough, he could be
very caring, and he could have that twinkle in his eye. He
could depart from the present text into Greek tragedy;
into old Roman speaking. He had an incredibly curious
mind. I think he is going to be greatly missed from this
I think of him representing the State of West Virginia
in the Senate for more than 51 years and serving 6 years
in the House of Representatives. During all those 57
years, he served with the kind of devotion and passion
that he showed in his last year here in the Senate, when
he was very troubled by declining health. He has truly
left an indelible imprint on the State of West Virginia
and on this body. No one has ever shown more determination
or greater love for the U.S. Senate than Robert C. Byrd.
His tenure has been legendary.
He held a number of key leadership positions, including
secretary of the Senate Democratic Caucus, Senate majority
whip, twice as Senate majority leader, the Senate's
minority leader, and three times as chairman of the Senate
During the period of 1989 to 2010, Senator Byrd was
President pro tempore of the Senate--the most senior
Democrat and third in the line of Presidential succession;
also as President pro tempore emeritus when the Democrats
were in the minority.
Senator Byrd cast more roll call votes than any other
Member of this institution--18,689 in total. That is truly
remarkable. Just think about how many of this Nation's
laws he helped shape.
He was a veritable expert on the inner workings of the
Senate. There was no one who was more well versed in this
institution's intricate rules, protocols, and customs than
Robert Byrd. He literally wrote one of the most
comprehensive books on the Senate. He knew Riddick's Rules
of Procedure, virtually all 1,600 pages.
Many of us in the Senate have also spoken of his ardent
devotion and consummate knowledge of the Constitution of
the United States. His well-worn, treasured copy of this
document was kept in his vest pocket, and year after year
I would see him pull it out. The only thing that would
change is that his hand, as the years went on, shook a
little bit more. But his devotion to that document did
He was a staunch defender of the prerogatives of the
three equal branches of government, and he was very quick
to note that he served alongside, not under, 12
When he first joined the House of Representatives in
1953, Harry S. Truman was President. His tenure in
Congress then followed alongside the Presidencies of
Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson,
Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald
Reagan, George H.W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George W.
Bush, and finally Barack Obama. That is an amazing list of
people to have served with.
Bob Byrd was not only one of the Senate's famous power
brokers, but I think his fondness for classical history,
music, and poetry has impacted every one of us. As I said,
he frequently interspersed his Senate remarks with
passages from ancient Roman history, philosophy, and often
poetic verse. It used to amaze me how, late at night, he
could move from his set text and repeat some poem, word
for word, verse after verse.
The nine decades of Robert Byrd's lifetime witnessed
great change both at the personal level and at the
national level. He lived to see and strongly support the
inauguration of our country's first African-American
President--something I know meant a great deal to him. He
was not always on the right side of the civil rights issue
at every stage of his life, but he became a champion for
equality, a lion for progress. His transformation was
Senator Byrd was born into very humble beginnings in
1917. He grew up during the Great Depression. He was the
adopted son of a coal mining family in a small town in
southern West Virginia. He was the valedictorian of his
high school class but was not able to afford college at
the time. This impoverished childhood might have hindered
others, might have stopped a weaker person, but not the
indomitable Robert Byrd. His inner thirst for knowledge
propelled him throughout his epic career. In fact, he
managed to find time during his tenure in the Senate to
finally fulfill his bachelor's degree from Marshall
University in 1994, at the tender age of 77. That shows
something, I think. He previously received a law degree
from American University's Washington College of Law in
The loss of his beloved wife Erma Byrd in 2006, I think,
was a dramatic blow to him. I had occasion to talk with
him during that time, and there was no question that this
was a great love, that it was an enduring love, and that
it was a lifetime commitment. I discussed with him how he
provided, day after day, week after week, and month after
month, the personal care to his wife as she became more
infirm and came toward the end of her life. This truly was
a major gift of love. ...
Once again, I offer my sincerest condolences to his two
daughters Mona Fatemi and Marjorie Moore, his
grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and to the people
of West Virginia.
This Nation--not only West Virginia, but all of us--owe
Senator Robert Byrd a great debt of gratitude for his
I know I will very much miss that indomitable spirit,
that insightful guidance, and the intense commitment to
This man will be missed.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware is
Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, I am pleased to follow my
colleague, Senator Feinstein, in tribute to Robert Byrd,
whom I always called ``Leader'' and who always called me
``Governor.'' He was our leader. He was a leader for a
long time and will always be that in a very real sense to
many of us.
I was born in Beckley, West Virginia, just about a dozen
miles or so from a community called Sophia, which is where
Robert and Erma Byrd once ran a little mom-and-pop
supermarket back in the late 1930s, early 1940s. I think
he was the butcher. He ran that supermarket and later on,
I think in World War II, he was a welder during the war.
As we know, in the late 1940s he had the opportunity to
run for the West Virginia Legislature and ran. He was a
great fiddler and went around his community, his district,
playing the fiddle. He always called himself a hillbilly.
Ironically, I was down in the central part of our State
just about a month ago and had a chance to attend a picnic
for senior citizens, a cookout. A lot of people were
there. I was sitting at different tables and walking
around. I was sitting at this one table, and I learned
this lady sitting to my left was from West Virginia.
I said, ``Where are you from?''
She said, ``Sophia.''
I said, ``That's right outside of Beckley, where I was
She said, ``Yes, I knew Robert and Erma Byrd when they
ran that mom-and-pop supermarket.''
I said, ``You're kidding.''
She said, ``No, I did.''
I asked her to share some thoughts with me about it, and
Two weeks later I was back in the Senate and Senator
Byrd was coming in in a wheelchair. In the last part of
his life he lost the ability to walk. He never lost his
voice, never lost his mind either. But he came in, and I
stopped to say hello to him, see how he was doing, and I
said, ``Leader, I just met a woman over in Delaware the
other day who knew you from your little supermarket in
Sophia, West Virginia.''
I told him about it, and he smiled. He said, ``Do you
remember her name?''
Ironically, I could not remember it. But if I had, he
would have. He was amazing.
Some people think the reason he got elected to office so
many times, in the State legislature and the U.S. House of
Representatives and in the Senate, was because he was so
good at, frankly, looking out for West Virginia
economically, making sure they were not left behind. He
was also a pretty good politician.
He was also good at names. I remember once, when we had
a funeral for my mom who died about 4 years ago, and we
had a celebration of her life just outside of Beckley. We
had it in the home, a very large home of a family that had
19 kids. One of them married my cousin, Dan Patton. Some
people have a diningroom; they had like a banquet hall for
their meals. We were all gathered in this banquet hall,
paying tribute to my mom, reflecting on her memory, and I
was walking around the house afterward, and I came across
a Congressional Record tribute on the wall of this house.
It was a tribute from Robert Byrd honoring this family. I
was just blown away. I couldn't wait to get back to the
Senate the next week and say to Senator Byrd, ``You will
never guess whose house I was in.''
I told him the name of the house, the family, and he
said, ``I remember that guy. He is a barber. They have 19
This guy was just amazing. I used to call him on his
birthday. I used to call him not just on his birthday but
when he and Erma had an anniversary. I would call him on
Christmas and other special occasions just to see how he
was doing and let him know I was thinking about him.
I think it was his 90th birthday, and I called him and I
said, ``Leader, I think it is your birthday today.''
He said, ``Yes, it is.''
I said, ``How old are you, anyway?''
He said, ``Well, I'm 90.''
I said, ``I just hope when I am 90 I can just sit up and
``Mr. President,'' he said, ``I hope you can, too.''
He was amazing.
He and Joe Biden share the same birthday. Sometimes I
would call Senator Byrd on his birthday and say,
``Leader?'' He said, ``Governor, is that you?''
I said, ``That's me. I always get this confused, who is
older, you or Biden?''
He said, ``I still got him by a couple of years, but he
is catching up on me.''
I guess now he will really have a chance to catch up.
I came here as a freshman Senator. I had been in the
House, and a Governor before. I came in as a freshman in
2001. I was about the age of the pages down here. I
remember Senator Byrd really took a bunch of us under his
wing. He became sort of my mentor. I think the fact we had
this West Virginia connection made it even more special
for me, and I think maybe for him.
He taught us how to preside. He explained to us the
rules of the Senate. He knew the rules better than anybody
else and he was able to work the rules, use the rules to
get things done--or not, to keep things from getting done.
Boy, he was good. He taught us how to behave in the
Senate, and he did that--not just for us but for people
who had been here for 20, 30, 40 years. If they were
acting up, making too much noise on the Senate floor, he
would stop them dead in their tracks.
He once said to me the most important role for the
Presiding Officer is to keep order. That is what he said.
He said, ``If you can keep order, the rest is pretty
easy.'' I always remembered that.
He presented to me my Golden Gavel. The Presiding
Officer has a Golden Gavel. You get it after presiding so
many hours in the Senate. But I was very honored to
receive mine from Senator Byrd.
When I got here in 2001 I think he was 83, an age when
most people are ready to sit back and take it easy. He was
just picking up speed. As Senator Feinstein said, he could
take to the Senate floor without a note, give a speech on
just about any subject, throw in all kinds of anecdotes
with respect to ancient Rome and Greek mythology, recite
poems and stuff.
I once said to him, ``How do you remember all those
He would say, ``I just make them up.''
He was just kidding. He actually was able to remember
them. I sometimes have a hard time remembering where I am
supposed be for my next meeting.
He was from West Virginia, the southern part of West
Virginia. As others have said, his views on race as a
younger man and as a new person in the Senate were not the
same views that he left with. He matured, grew up.
He once said to me, ``The worst vote I ever cast, I
actually voted against and spoke against the Civil Rights
Act of 1964.''
I think he sort of went to his grave regretting that.
But I think he went to his grave having atoned, if you
will, for that sin. He changed his views with respect to
race. In part it was a matter of conscience--he was a
person of deep faith--but I think also probably he
changed, in part, because of the prodding and cajoling of,
among others, one of his best friends, Senator Ted
As I said earlier, I loved to call him on special days.
I would almost always call him when I was back in West
Virginia, call him on my cell phone, call him at his home
in McLean. It wasn't his birthday or anything and I would
I would say, ``Leader?''
He would say, ``Is that you, Governor?''
I would say, ``Yes, I am driving down to West Virginia
on the Virginia Turnpike heading toward Beckley.''
He would say, ``No kidding.''
I said, ``I am trying to remember which exit to get off
of. The first one is Harper Road, then there is another
one. The third one, I can't remember that. What is that?''
He would say, ``That's my road, the Robert C. Byrd Drive
I would always have a good time with him for that.
Others have spoken about all the leadership roles he
played here, all the votes he cast, all that he did. He
did so much for West Virginia. I love to go back to West
Virginia. I think the friendliest people I have ever met
in my life are from West Virginia. It is kind of a
hardscrabble place. They have come a long ways, in no
small part because of his enormous help. He has been
accused of trying to hijack Washington and move it to West
Virginia and bring in all kinds of Federal agencies and
He was really trying to make sure West Virginia did not
get left out, and I think thanks to his intervention, they
He made life a lot better for the folks who live in West
Virginia today, and who lived there for the last 58 years.
He also made life better for a generation of Americans,
maybe a couple of generations of Americans, in looking
back, and maybe even looking forward as well. He is going
to make their life better, looking forward, for the people
in this country who need health care, the people in this
country who need a decent place to live, a chance to buy a
home, a chance to get an education, the opportunity to
improve their station in life.
More than anybody I know, for a guy who was born,
orphaned in North Carolina as an infant, who was traded
off by his mom in her last will and testament--she wanted
him to be raised by her sister who lived in West Virginia,
and her sister took this young man in. His name was not
Robert Byrd. But she took in her nephew. She and her
husband raised Robert Byrd in tough situations,
hardscrabble situations, and he sort of raised himself by
the bootstraps and worked hard all of his life to make
something of himself and to serve as a model for us in the
end, and a model for our country.
I yield the floor.
Mr. DODD. ... As someone who has spent three decades of
my life at this very desk--and it is the only desk I have
ever sat at since the day I arrived. This desk was planted
over in that far corner as the 100th Senator in the body
up until I--some 20 years ago when, through seniority, you
get to move your desk around. I ended up in this seat,
this spot about 20 years ago, next to this remarkable man
whose life we are going to celebrate and are celebrating
those days, Robert C. Byrd. He has been my seatmate for
the last two decades.
As I said the other day, I was an 8-year-old child
sitting in the galleries of the other body watching my
father, on January 3, 1953, and a 35-year-old new
Congressman from West Virginia be sworn in as newly minted
Members of Congress. Some 6 years later, I sat in that
gallery up here, in the family gallery, watching my father
be sworn in as a Senator from Connecticut, along with a
new Senator from West Virginia named Robert C. Byrd, never
imagining, as a 8-year-old or as a 14-year-old, that I
would spend 20 years of my life at a desk next to the man
who has served longer than any other human being in the
history of our Nation.
Process meant a lot to Robert C. Byrd. The Constitution
meant a great deal. I carry with me, and every day I have
for 20 years, the Constitution that Robert C. Byrd gave me
and autographed to me. It is rather threadbare and worn
today, but he revered this document. He could absolutely
quote it verbatim. He gave me a copy, as he did to all new
Members when they arrive, and the importance of
understanding the role of this body in our constitutional
He was such a great advocate of the civility and the
respect for each other as we try to fashion answers to our
Nation's problems. We have been through two major bills in
the last Congress. There have been a lot of other bills to
consider, but the health care debate and the financial
reform debate, I would argue, are the two largest in this
Congress, and they are two models of how an institution
can operate. ...
Briefly, cloture is a method by which you end a
filibuster. In this Chamber, under our rules, we respect
the rights of the minority, including a minority of one.
Members can talk as long as they can stand up, under
most circumstances, and continue. Robert C. Byrd, in fact,
held one of the records. It wasn't the record--Strom
Thurmond holds the record, a former Senator I served with
from South Carolina--but Robert C. Byrd conducted a
filibuster for more than 14 hours.
Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, the Senate has lost its most
talented, dedicated, and best-informed Member about the
precedents, rules, and customs of the Senate, when the
distinguished President pro tempore, Robert Byrd, passed
away to join his beloved wife Erma in the heaven he was
confident existed for those who were true believers.
I had the good fortune to work closely with Robert Byrd
as a fellow member of the Appropriations Committee for 30
years. I served as the ranking minority member when he was
chairman and as chairman when he was the ranking minority
member. I preferred being chairman. I thoroughly enjoyed
the opportunities to conduct the hearings, schedule the
committee markups, and negotiate with our House colleagues
to formulate and pass the bills that funded the
departments of the executive branch, the judiciary, and
One of the highlights of my experience with Robert Byrd
was a trip we took to several European capitals. He was
comfortable discussing our mutual interests and
differences with the leaders of other nations. His mastery
of European history and politics was as impressive as his
well-informed understanding of American history and
On one leg of our trip, Senator Byrd asked my wife Rose
to come sit by him. He wanted to dictate something to her.
He started a recitation with names that were not familiar
to me, but eventually Rose realized that he was reciting
from memory the names of the monarchs of Great Britain,
the United Kingdom as we know it, and in the order in
which each had served throughout the entire history of
that great country. It was an unbelievable performance,
reflecting an awesome ability of recall, and a reverential
appreciation of a nation which has been our closest ally
in recent history.
Robert Byrd was not only my friend, but a mentor, an
example of dedicated, disciplined, and determined
leadership. I will miss him, but I will always remember
his legacy of seriousness of purpose, and his love for the
Senate, its role in the legislative process, its powers of
advise and consent, and its continuity that has helped
make our government the most respected in the world.
Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, I want to take a few moments
to talk today about one of the best teachers I have ever
known: Senator Robert C. Byrd.
The man we lost this week is known for many things: as
the longest serving Member of Congress in the Nation's
history; as an accomplished legislator; as an author and
historian; as a self-made man who reached exalted heights,
yet never forgot the coal miners and the families of the
mountain home community from which he came. I think of him
as a teacher, one who began teaching me from the moment I
came to the U.S. Senate, and one whose lessons I sought
right up to the time he was taken from us this week.
Serving as a new Senator in the majority means, among
other things, hours spent in this Chamber, presiding over
the Senate. I was fortunate that for many of my early
years here, I spent much of that time in the Presiding
Officer's chair listening to Senator Byrd speak on the
history of this body, its traditions and practices, and
its historic debt to another great body that played a
major role in mankind's march toward democratic
government, the Roman senate.
I was learning from him two decades later, when Senator
Byrd led a small group of us who filed a lawsuit and later
a legal brief challenging a law we believed to be
unconstitutional: the law granting the President the so-
called line-item veto. He, like I and many others, saw
this law as bending the Constitution in ways that usurped
Congress' constitutional authority and responsibility. In
1998, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed. The majority in that
case, citing its ``profound importance,'' concluded that
the line-item veto ``may or may not be desirable,'' but
that it was surely not consistent with ``the procedures
designed by the Framers of article I, section 7 of the
Constitution'' the so-called Presentment Clause.
I remember standing next to Senator Byrd at a press
conference celebrating that victory for the Constitution,
as he pulled out of his pocket the copy of that great
founding document he always carried with him. A copy of
the Constitution that sits today on my desk, in front of
me at all times, was inscribed to me by Senator Robert C.
I had hoped to visit with him this week to again listen
and learn. In February, Senator Byrd sent all of us, his
Senate colleagues, a letter setting out his position on
preserving the ability to engage in extended debate in the
Senate. It was yet another powerful defense of both the
enduring traditions of the Senate, and the need for
thoughtfulness in invoking those traditions. Senator
Byrd's letter sparked some thoughts of my own, and last
week, I discussed with his staff scheduling a meeting with
him this week to get his take. Once again, I was in need
of the insight and wisdom of Senator Robert Byrd.
How I wish he were here today to continue teaching us.
While that was not to be, the lessons of Senator Byrd's
life and long service will endure.
His career is a testament to hard work and
determination. This is a man who spent 10 years in night
school classes to earn his law degree, who when he focused
on an issue he did so with uncommon intensity. We can all
learn from his commitment and grit.
Like any good teacher, Senator Byrd never stopped trying
to learn. He was a man of strong convictions who knew the
value of admitting when he was in error. He acknowledged
that earlier in his life, he had taken positions and held
opinions on the subject of civil rights that he later
regretted. When he shared those regrets, he created a
powerful teachable moment. We can all learn from his
willingness to learn and grow to the very end of his life.
He was tireless in his defense of the role the
Constitution assigns to the Congress, and specifically the
Senate, in our democracy. In his letter to us in February,
he wrote: ``The Senate is the only place in government
where the rights of a numerical minority are so
protected.'' He called those protections ``essential to
the protection of the liberties of a free people.''
Whether it was Congress' constitutional obligations to
render judgments on matters of war and peace or to
exercise the power of the purse, Senator Byrd was a
relentless fighter for the role the Founding Fathers
carefully set out for us. He was not defending Senate
authority for its own sake. His passion was not for Senate
prerogatives for their own sake, but for the brilliantly
conceived constitutional balance of powers essential to
our freedoms. He passionately believed that we must not
yield one ounce of the authority that the Constitution
entrusts to the peoples' elected representatives. We can
all learn from the conviction, the dedication, and the
intellectual power he brought to that cause, to the end of
making it our cause. Let the mission he so eloquently
espoused be our mission, though our power to persuade be
far less than Senator Byrd's.
Robert Byrd had many loves--his late, beloved wife Erma,
West Virginia and its people, his God, and the
Constitution of the Nation he cherished. But the Senate is
his special legacy. For more than two centuries we have
kept our traditions intact: our unique respect for
extended debate and minority rights, and for the
legislative authority that the Constitution places in our
hands to exercise and defend. These traditions are
maintained because of Senators like Robert Byrd, Senators
who live them and fight for them. I learned more about
these weighty issues from this great teacher than from
anyone or anything in my years in the Senate.
Robert Byrd is no longer with us, teaching us, leading
us. But the lessons of Robert Byrd's life and career will
endure, guiding all of us now occupying these desks, and
Senators who will occupy these desks for ages to come.
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, the Senate, in its 223-year
history, has never had a greater champion than Robert
Byrd. West Virginia, in its 147-year history, has never
had a more powerful advocate or public servant than Robert
Like so many Senators elected before and after me, I
learned very quickly how passionate Robert Byrd was about
this institution, its roots in the Constitution. As all of
us remember, he had that dog-eared copy of the
Constitution he carried in the front pocket of his suit,
and sometimes in the caucus or other times on the floor,
he would pull it out to help reinforce a point he was
making, even though we all knew he could recite the
Constitution by memory. But he consulted it often without
hesitation. In its words, he reminded us that he always
found wisdom, truth, and excitement--the same excitement
he felt as a young boy in Wolf Creek Hollow, reading by
kerosene lamp about the heroes of the American Revolution
and the birth of our Nation. Those words literally guided
him through the 57 years he spent in Washington as a
Member of the Congress and as a Senator.
It is fair to say that no one knew the Senate--its
history, its traditions, and its precedents--better than
Robert Byrd. It is all there in the four-volume collection
of his speeches on the Senate, which we were all
privileged to receive from him.
Every freshman Senator got a personal crash course on
the Senate's history from Robert Byrd himself. I was one
of five Democratic freshmen elected in 1984. The class of
1984 was privileged to share some lofty hopes and goals.
Four of the five of us eventually ran for President: Al
Gore, Paul Simon, Tom Harkin, and myself. All of us can
tell you that we arrived in the Senate with a thirst for
action and an impatience for delay. Then-Minority Leader
Robert Byrd didn't discourage any of that. In fact, he
encouraged it, and he helped all of us with our committee
assignments so we could push the list of our policy ideas
that we exuberantly believed we could and would pass into
law. But in meetings with us individually, he also helped
each of us to see the bigger picture, to impress upon us
the fact that one of our most important responsibilities
as Senators was to be caretakers of this institution--an
institution he regarded as both the morning star and the
evening star of the American constitutional constellation.
To Robert Byrd, the Senate was, as he said, ``the last
bastion of minority rights, where a minority can be heard,
where a minority can stand on its feet, one individual if
necessary, and speak until he falls into the dust.''
Indeed, earlier this year, when many of us felt
frustration over the Senate's rules governing
filibusters--specifically, the requirement of 60 votes to
cut off debate--Robert Byrd cautioned against amending the
rules to facilitate expeditious action by a simple
majority. In a letter sent to all of us, he observed that:
The occasional abuse of the rules has been, at times, a
painful side effect of what is otherwise the Senate's
greatest purpose--the right to extended, or even
unlimited, debate. The Senate is the only place in
government where the rights of a numerical minority are
Majorities change with elections. A minority can be
right, and minority views can certainly improve
legislation ... . Extended deliberations and debate--when
employed judiciously--protect every Senator, and the
interests of their constituency, and are essential to the
protection of the liberties of a free people.
Robert Byrd also impressed upon us the fact that we did
not serve ``under'' any President; that as a separate but
equal branch of government, we served ``with'' Presidents,
acted as a check on the Executive's power. Robert Byrd was
the longest serving Member of Congress in all of our
Nation's history, and as such he served with 12
At no time in his career was Robert Byrd's defense of
legislative prerogatives more pronounced and more eloquent
than in arguing against granting the Bush administration's
broad power to wage preemptive war against Iraq. He chided
the Senate for standing ``passively mute ... paralyzed by
our own uncertainty,'' ceding its war powers to President
Robert Byrd was, as we all know, a lot more than the
guardian of the Senate. He was a major figure in the great
panorama of American history over more than half a
century. He was a thinker--thinking and reevaluating more
in his eighties and nineties than many Senators do in a
lifetime. He was an ardent supporter of the Vietnam war
but surprised many with his fierce opposition to President
Bush's invasion of Iraq. He was a protector of West
Virginia's coal industry but came to accept the mounting
scientific data of global warming and took part in finding
a solution. To do otherwise, he said, would be ``to stick
our heads in the sand.''
Robert Byrd cast more than 18,500 votes in the Senate--a
record that will never be equaled. His last vote was June
17 against a Republican proposal to prevent the extension
of unemployment benefits. Earlier this year, even with his
health failing, he cast one of the most historic votes of
his career in support of legislation to expand health care
to all Americans--the life work of his old and departed
friend Ted Kennedy.
Whether he voted with you or against you, it was never
hard ideology with Robert Byrd. He had no use for narrow
partisanship that trades on attack and values only
victory. I learned that as a candidate for President in
2004 when Senator Byrd came to my defense after opponents
aimed religious smears at me. I was forever grateful to
him for doing that.
It all began one Sunday when Senator Byrd was home in
West Virginia and found that a brochure had been inserted
in a church bulletin saying that if elected President, I
would ban the Bible. Senator Byrd exploded. ``No one side
has the market on Christianity or belief in God,'' said
this born-again Baptist. Later at a rally in Beckley, he
accused my opponents of having ``improperly hijacked the
issue of faith'' and said that the suggestion that I
intended to ban the Bible was ``trash and a lie.''
But Senator Byrd was not done. He also went to the
Senate floor to denounce this kind of politics:
Paid henchmen who talk about Democratic politicians who
are eager to ban the Bible obviously think that West
Virginians are gullible, ignorant fools. They must think
that West Virginians just bounced off the turnip truck.
But the people of West Virginia are smarter than that. We
are not country bumpkins who will swallow whatever garbage
some high-priced political consultant makes up.
That was Robert Byrd telling it the way he thought.
Anytime Senator Byrd spoke, any of us who had the
privilege of serving with him remember his speeches were
filled with as many Bible references as historical
references. When the Senator spoke, the Senate came to a
halt. Senators would lean forward and listen, as they did
not necessarily do otherwise, and learn.
It is fitting that this teacher in the Senate, this
guardian of the Senate, will lie in state in this Chamber
on the floor of the institution he revered and which also
had so much respect for him. He is as much a part of this
Chamber in many ways as the historic desks or galleries or
the busts of Senate presidents.
He ran for public office 15 times, and he never lost. He
was first elected to the West Virginia Legislature in 1946
and served three terms in the House of Representatives
before his election to the Senate. It is no wonder that he
was such a keen observer of politics.
I remember when I decided to run in 2004, I went to talk
with Senator Byrd. His advice, in fact, was among the
first I sought. He advised me to ``go to West Virginia,''
``get a little coal dust'' on my hands and face and ``live
in spirit with the working people.'' In keeping with his
advice, I did just that. What a great experience it was.
He was deeply proud of West Virginia and its people. He
proudly defended his work to invest Federal dollars in his
State, the kind of spending that some people deride as
pork. Robert Byrd knew it was something else. It was
opportunity for his people. He took pride in the way that
Federal funding helped to lift the economy of West
Virginia, one of the ``rock bottomest of States,'' as he
put it. He breathed new life into so many communities
across that State with funding for highways, hospitals,
universities, research institutes, scholarships, and
housing--all the time giving people the opportunities that
he knew so many West Virginians of his generation never
had. ``You take those things away, imagine, it would be
blank,'' he once said.
Robert Byrd's journey was, in many ways, America's
journey. He came of age in an America segregated by race.
But like America, he changed, even repenting, and he made
amends. Not only did he come to regret his segregationist
past, but he became an ardent advocate of all kinds of
civil rights legislation, including a national holiday
honoring Dr. Martin Luther King. And in the end, Robert
Byrd endorsed Barack Obama for President. ``I have lived
with the weight of my own youthful mistakes my whole life,
like a millstone around my neck,'' he wrote in 2008. ``And
I accept that those mistakes will forever be mentioned
when people talk about me. I believe I have learned from
those mistakes. I know I've tried very hard to do so.''
That is the expression of a man with a big heart and a
The moments that define most men's lives are few. Not so
with Robert Byrd. He devoted his life to Erma and his
family and to public service, compiling an extraordinary
record of accomplishment and service in more than half a
century in Congress. His mastery of Senate rules and
parliamentary procedure was legendary. His devotion to his
colleagues and to this institution was unequaled. And his
contributions to his State and to the Nation were
Robert Byrd spent most of his life making sure the
Senate remained what the Founding Fathers intended it to
be: a citadel of law, of order, of liberty, the anchor of
the Republic. And in doing so, he takes his place among
the giants of the Senate, such as Daniel Webster, John C.
Calhoun and, of course, his and our dear friend Ted
May Robert Byrd rest in peace.
Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I rise to celebrate the life
and career of Senator Robert C. Byrd. I have been in the
body now since 2002, and Senator Byrd will go down in
history as not only the longest serving Senator to date--
maybe forever--but also as one of the most effective
Members of the Senate.
He was tough. During his prime, they tell me, there was
no tougher opponent and no better ally than to have
Senator Byrd on your side. And when he was on the other
side, you had a long day ahead of you.
He talked about his early life. He is a human being,
like the rest of us. I think what he was able to do for
his people in West Virginia, and the country as a whole,
will stand the test of time, and he will be viewed for
many things, not just one. That is the way it should be
for all of us.
I had the pleasure of getting to know him when I first
came to the Senate and I walked into one hell of a fight
over judges. The Senate was in full battle over the
filibustering of judges. The Senate had gone down a road
it had never gone down before--an open resistance to the
judicial nominations of President Bush across the board.
The body was about to explode. There were 55 Republicans
at the time, and we all believed that what our Democratic
colleagues were doing was unprecedented, unnecessary, and,
quite frankly, dangerous to the judiciary. I am sure they
had their view, too, and everybody has a reason for what
they do around here.
The Gang of 14--affectionately known by some, and
discussed by others--was formed during that major
historical moment in the Senate. I remember talking to
some observers of the Senate who were telling me that if
the rules were changed to allow a simple majority vote for
the confirmation of judges, that would take the Senate
down a road it had never gone down before, and where it
would stop, nobody knew. At the same time, there was
another constitutional concept that meant a lot to me and
to others, and that is that people deserve a vote when
they are nominated by the President.
Well, Senator Byrd and 13 other Senators--and he was a
big leader in this--came up with the compromise called
``extraordinary circumstances.'' We agreed that we would
not filibuster judges unless there was an extraordinary
circumstance. We understood that elections had
consequences. What we had in mind was that we would
reserve our right to filibuster only if the person did not
meet the qualification test. I believe the advise and
consent role of the Senate has to be recognized, and I
respect elections but not a blank check. So there is
always the ability of any Senator here, or a group of
Senators, to stand up and to object--one party versus the
other--if you believe the person is not qualified.
The second issue we dealt with was that we all reserved
unto ourselves the ability to object if we thought the
person was an activist judge--a political person who was
going to be put on the bench and the robe used to carry
out the political agenda rather than to interpret the law.
The law meant a lot to Senator Byrd--the Constitution
did. One of my cherished possessions is a copy of the
Constitution signed by him, given to all the members of
the Gang of 14. That is just one example of where very
late in life he made a huge impact on the Senate. As
history records that moment, I daresay it is probably one
of his finest hours. Because the consequences of not
resolving that dispute the way we did could have changed
the Senate rules forever, and I think the judiciary for
the worse. So we have a lot to celebrate.
His family, I know, mourns the loss of their loved one;
the people of West Virginia, their best champion has
passed. But we all pass. It is what we leave behind that
counts, and I think he has left a lot behind and something
both Republicans and Democrats can be proud of. Even
though you disagreed with him, as I did on many occasions,
I had nothing but respect for the man. He was a true
guardian of the Senate and what it stands for.
I don't think we will ever find anybody who loved the
institution more than Senator Byrd. He will be missed. But
the best way we can honor his memory is to try to follow
in his footsteps when it comes to making sure the
constitutional role of the Senate is adhered to, and that
we understand the Senate is not the House, the Senate is
not the executive branch, the Senate is something special,
and let us keep it that way.
Mr. REED. Mr. President, I rise to pay tribute to an
extraordinary Senator--Robert Byrd of West Virginia.
Chairman Byrd was the longest serving Senator in the
history of this country. He served with extraordinary
distinction not only on behalf of the people of West
Virginia but on behalf of all of us.
The great lesson of his life is that through constant
self-improvement, through constant education, not only can
one rise to great heights but one can also contribute to
one's country and community.
Senator Byrd was born in very humble circumstances. At
his birth, I do not think anyone would have predicted he
would become the longest serving Senator in the history of
the United States. In fact, tragically, within a year of
his birth, his mother passed away, and he went to live
with his mother's sister. But in those difficult
circumstances in West Virginia, he rose above it through
tenacious effort, through hard work.
Through his life's path, he had an extraordinary
companion, the love of his life--Erma. Together they not
only had a family but they built a life of service to
others. I know how dear his dear Erma was to Senator Byrd.
Their children, Mona, Marjorie, their sons-in-law, their
grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren all at this
moment are reflecting on the wonderful person Robert Byrd
was, how much he meant to them, and also I hope
recognizing how much he meant to all of us. In this very
difficult moment, I am sure his memory and his example
will sustain them as it sustains all of us.
Senator Byrd, from these humble circumstances through
hard work in shipyards, in the coalfields of West
Virginia, rose up. He rose up because of his incredible
talent, not only intellectual talent, but I had the great
good fortune once to hear him play the fiddle. Anyone who
can play a fiddle like that has great hope of employment,
at least in the musical world. But he went beyond that.
Again the lesson Senator Byrd teaches us all is constant
striving. He was someone who received his law degree while
a Member of Congress, the first and perhaps only person to
go to law school while he was also serving the people of
West Virginia and the Congress.
He wrote what is regarded as the foremost history of the
Senate, not only this Senate but also the Roman Senate. He
did that because he was committed to finding out about
history, about life, about human challenges, about great
human endeavors, and using that knowledge to help others.
He was someone whom we all revered. When I arrived in
the Senate, he was gracious and kind and helpful. I can
always remember he would greet me as ``my captain.'' He
had a deep affection for those who served, even someone as
myself who did not serve at the same level of distinction
as Dan Inouye, John Kerry, John McCain, and others. He is
someone who helped and supported me, and I appreciated
very much his kindness.
I also appreciate the passion he brought in defense of
the Constitution of the United States and the passion he
brought to ensure the Senate and the Congress played its
rightful role in the deliberations of this government.
He would say quite often that he had not served under
numerous Presidents; he had served with them as a Senator,
in the legislature, a coequal branch of government. He
fought not simply for personal prerogatives, he fought for
principle, that this government would be based on, as our
Founding Fathers designed it, the interplay between the
executive, legislative, and judicial branches. His passion
for the Constitution was evident and obvious.
He also was passionate in the last few years about the
foreign policy of the United States. He spoke with
eloquence and with passion against our engagement in Iraq.
He saw it, as now it is becoming clearer and clearer, as a
strategic distraction from the true challenge, which was
to defeat our opponents, Al Qaeda and their affiliated
terrorist groups, and to do that to protect this country.
He was a remarkable man, born of humble origin, self-
educated, unceasingly educating himself and always seeking
to better and improve himself. I would suspect in his last
few days he was still striving to learn more.
I simply close by thanking him for his service, thanking
his family for supporting him in his service, and thanking
the people of West Virginia for their wisdom in sending
Robert Byrd to the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Senate.
Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I come to the floor this
afternoon to speak on a couple of different subjects.
Briefly I wish to say a few words about our extraordinary
and great colleague who has left the Senate and left this
world, but his spirit will be here for many years to come
and his presence will be felt here for decades, if
literally not centuries, and the extraordinary
contribution that Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia has
made to the Congress, to the Senate, to our country, and
to the world.
My colleague, the Senator from Rhode Island, gave a
beautiful tribute a few minutes ago. I was in the Chamber
and listened to what he said. I wish to add that not only
did Robert Byrd rise up through educating himself--in
these days that is almost a foreign concept to so many
people. You go to school, you get a degree--but he did all
of that and more. He read so much. He was so curious about
so many aspects of life, not just politics, not just
government, but industry, art, and music that literally he
was one of the most inspirational human beings I have ever
had the pleasure to know or ever read about in that sense.
Senator Reed said he lifted himself from literally an
orphan status in one of the poorest communities in the
world, West Virginia. Parts of it are much like a few
parts of our country that are extraordinarily poor, even
by world standards.
He came from a very humble, orphaned beginning with
virtually no chance at anything much, and ended up, we
know, sitting at that desk, which is one of the great
desks of honor in this Chamber. As people who work here
know, the longer one is here, the closer one gets to the
center aisle. Since he held up the center aisle literally
with his presence every day, one cannot get any more
senior than that desk. We look at it now these days and
are reminded of him.
He lifted himself, he lifted his family, but I would say
in that earnest curious way, he lifted an entire State and
an entire Nation. There are not many individuals who can
say that their life actually did that. But Robert Byrd is
one of them. West Virginia today is lifted so much higher.
The children of West Virginia, the families of West
Virginia, the communities of West Virginia literally were
lifted by the strength--the spiritual and intellectual
strength--and courage and tenacity of a man for whom there
is no peer in this room relative to that, or our Nation
across decades, through many of the great trials of this
Nation. He lifted this Nation to a better place and was
such a strong man and such a great man that he would even
admit when he made some very bad mistakes, which raises
him even higher in my eyes.
He said toward the end of his life many times that his
stand on civil rights was not right. He apologized
profusely for being on the wrong side of history on that
issue. He did not make many mistakes such as that. But he
was such a great man that he admitted when he did.
Senator Reed recalled that he always called him
``captain,'' but Senator Byrd had a way of referring to
each of us in a special way. He would always say to me,
``How are you today, Senator, and how is that fine father
of yours, Moon Landrieu?'' It would always make me feel so
wonderful that he would say he was such a great mayor.
``How is Moon today and how is Verna?'' Can you imagine a
gentleman with so much on his mind that he would always
remember the parents I have and that we both admire so
much? It was a special way about him.
Finally, when Katrina happened and all of us on the gulf
coast were devastated--frankly, I could not find a great
deal of comfort at the level of the administration that
was in power. I never thought they quite understood the
depths of the destruction that occurred. It worried me
then and it still troubles me to this day. But the first
meeting I had with Senator Byrd, when I was trying to
explain to him how devastating this situation was--because
it wasn't a hurricane, it was a flood and the Federal
levees had collapsed--he just sort of put his hand out and
said, ``Senator, have a seat.'' He said, ``I do
understand, and I am going to work with you. I am going to
help you. I am going to be here for the people of
Louisiana and the gulf coast as we try to get this
Mr. President, we were shortchanged by other Members of
Congress and by the White House. They never quite
understood. When the first allocation of funding was given
out, it was just an arbitrary number thrown out that we
were going to take $10 billion and help the gulf coast,
but no State could get more than $5.4 billion. Well, when
you looked at the facts at the time, the numbers were so
disproportionate to the injury that Louisiana and our
people had suffered, had you done it on just a disaster
basis--which we should have done in calculating it--we
should have gotten $15 billion relative to that
When I brought those numbers to Senator Byrd, he said,
``We are going to work on it.'' And you know what, Mr.
President, he did. Unbelievable as it might be to the
people in this Chamber, because he was a very powerful
chairman of the Appropriations Committee, he could
actually do it, and he did.
I didn't have to explain that much or beg that much. I
just had to present the data to him that showed this is
how many houses were destroyed, this is how many homes
were lost, this is what the President gave to x, y, and z;
what do you think, Senator Byrd? Is what we are asking
fair for us? And he said, ``Absolutely.'' So he gave us
literally billions of dollars.
Today, St. Bernard Parish, the city of New Orleans, and
parishes all in the southern part of the State are
recovering because of one person, Senator Byrd, the chair
of the Appropriations Committee, who said, ``We are not
going to leave you at your hour of greatest need.''
I will never forget, and my State will never forget, the
generosity and the courage it took for him to stand with
us through that difficult time. So I wanted to, in a small
way, add my voice to the many tributes that Senator Byrd
has received, and those are the most important ones that I
wanted to share today.
Mr. LAUTENBERG. Mr. President, this is not my regular
seat in the Senate, but I came here to stand near the
place that Senator Robert C. Byrd occupied. His absence is
noted by the flowers and the black cloth that covers his
There is so much to say about Robert C. Byrd that to
have a serious discussion about who and what he was would
take far more time than we have available. He was an
unusual man, brilliant, genius, credited with encyclopedic
When I came to the Senate in 1983, I was not a young
man. I am now an older man. When I came, I wanted to meet
Senator Byrd. I came from the business world. I was
chairman and CEO of a significant corporation that carried
substantial esteem and respect for the record compiled by
the three of us boys from poor working-class families in
Paterson, New Jersey, an industrial city that had its
origins as an industrial place at the time of Alexander
I was privileged to meet a lot of people who could be
described as lofty and holding positions of importance.
When I went in to Senator Byrd's office to introduce
myself--I had met him a couple of times before I was
elected to the Senate seat from New Jersey--it was with
great awe and respect that I sat in front of this
individual who had given so much to our country, who taxed
our wits and made us think more deeply about our
responsibilities than sometimes we have. He was a tower of
knowledge and strength.
I introduced myself to him, and we had a nice chat for a
while. He asked me about my background. I talked about my
life and my experiences, which are not anything like the
depth of Senator Robert Byrd's background. I came from a
poor family. I served in the Army. I received my education
at Columbia University because I was able to use the
scholarship that was given to soldiers who had served in
As I listened to Robert Byrd, what he had accomplished
in his lifetime dwarfed anything I had ever seen. He was a
man born into poverty, orphaned at an early stage in life,
and turned over to relatives to be brought up. He taught
himself how to play the violin and attended law school
part time at night for years, finally getting his law
degree from the university. He was an incredible figure in
We feel his absence already. In his latest years, he was
not fortunate enough to have the kind of health he had as
a younger man, but he always had the respect of everybody
who knew him.
When we look at his history, if one has time to go to
the computer and get a biography that is held in Wikipedia
and see the more than 30 pages' worth of his
accomplishments and history, it was a privilege and an
honor for those of us who knew him when we look at the
positions he held. He had elegance. He had grace. He had
resilience. He was tough. He had a meticulous grasp of
I came out of the computer business. I used to tease
Robert C. Byrd. I called him ``my human computer.'' He had
so much knowledge that, frankly, I think it competed very
ably with the computers in the early 1980s when I came to
When I visited him in his office, he asked me if I knew
the history of the monarchs of the British Empire. I said
I did not know much about them. I knew the recent one, the
sitting monarch at the time. He proceeded for more than 1
hour to give me the history of the monarchs of the British
Empire, starting with William the Conqueror, 1066, and
recalling everybody who was King or Queen of England, of
the British Empire. He talked about how long they served,
the precise dates they served, whether they died by the
hand of an assassin, whether they died from a disease,
whether they died from an accident. He knew all of that
detail. I was sitting in total bewilderment as to how one
could capture and remember so much of that information.
When I asked to be excused because I had some other
business, he was ready to give me the history of the Roman
Senate. He did this not like most of us, with notes. He
had it in his brain while he recalled everything he
learned and did, the number of votes, where he cast them,
and on what issue. It was remarkable.
He served at a period of time when we had some of the
most remarkable people this body has seen. Not to suggest
we do not have talent equal to the stature of some of
those who served then. It is worthy of mention that he was
the majority leader in the Senate from January 1977 to
January 1981 and again from 1987 to 1989, a relatively
short period. He preceded and served with people such as
Howard Baker on the Republican side, Bob Dole, Mike
Mansfield, and George Mitchell. He was an equal with those
powerhouses and stood as one of them. He stood out.
He revered this Senate and the process with which we
then operated. We are far less committed to process. Bob
Byrd insisted we have the time, respect, courtesy, and
proper addressing of individuals, giving it a certain
loftiness that we otherwise would not have had.
Nobody knew more about this body than Robert C. Byrd. He
was this Chamber's protector. He protected the Senate's
rules, the Senate's integrity, and he protected the
Senate's civility. He taught each and every one of us how
the Senate works--the ins, the outs. It is hard to imagine
serving a single day without him. He had such respect for
the management of this country of ours.
We should be inspired by Robert C. Byrd's legacy to
become more cooperative and more civil in the days ahead.
We ought to reflect on those values tomorrow as we view
Senator Byrd's casket lying in repose in this Chamber that
he loved so dearly. He loved it so much that he reminded
all of us from time to time--he would pick up on a phrase.
Someone talked about serving under this President or that
President. He said, ``Sir, never, never under. We serve
with the President of the United States. We never serve
under them. We are a body of equal importance.'' And he
knew that from every possible position of responsibility
What we should do as a Senate is accept the best that
Robert C. Byrd brought to us, to share the image he
brought to all of us and to the stature of this body.
Robert C. Byrd's journey in life was simply remarkable.
He was born into deep poverty, growing up without the
comforts that many of us take for granted, such as running
water, and setting an example for all Americans of what
you might be if you make the effort and you have the
dedication to a higher purpose.
Although he was high school valedictorian at the age of
16, he had to skip college because he did not have the
means to pay for it. He overcame that obstacle by becoming
a self-taught man and a student of history. How did he
learn to play the violin all by himself, and learn what he
did about education and law?
He served half a century--51 years--in the Senate,
holding every critical position, including, as I
mentioned, majority leader and minority leader, and
President pro tempore. In that position he was third in
line for the Presidency of the United States.
Still, he never forgot where he came from and his duty
to help everyday people. He pleaded their case,
particularly his beloved West Virginians, as well as those
across the country.
I had the privilege to serve with Senator Byrd when he
was chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Some like to
make light of his position to fund projects in West
Virginia, but there was nothing cynical about his life's
cause to stamp out poverty in his home State and in this
country. Senator Byrd called bringing Federal dollars back
to his State one of his greatest achievements. He
understood that a new school meant a child would have a
better chance for a future. A new sewage system meant that
families might have clean water--unaccustomed as they were
to that in lots of places in his home State. A new highway
meant that farmers and companies could bring their product
and their produce to market in hours.
I will use the expression that he ``elegantized'' the
beauty of the deeds of working people and brought meaning
to the purpose of their lives and their work.
He was a forward-looking man. He, working with all of
us, recognized the importance of an appropriate
infrastructure--the importance of Amtrak, of the railroad
that serves so many millions of Americans every year. He
was a voice for stronger rail service, knowing that could
get people more reliable travel so they would not be stuck
in massive traffic jams when they had to get someplace. It
was an important part of an agenda that he had that was so
Years ago, when Amtrak--a favorite part of my view of
what has to happen with our infrastructure--was under
siege, we worked side by side to protect America's premier
rail network from being defunded. In 2007, when the Amtrak
law I authored was on this floor, we faced a difficult
vote to defeat a killer amendment. I remember standing
here as they were counting the yeas and nays, and Senator
Byrd had occasion to let his simple yes or no ring out
across this place. He put a stamp on that, and that meant
that he didn't like it or he did like it.
He wanted everybody in this place to remember that he
was chairman of the Appropriations Committee. He
remembered when people voted with him and when they
didn't. He couldn't stand the hypocrisy of people who
would say, ``Oh, these earmarks are terrible,'' and then
they would put them in their list. He would remember it.
It was not a good thing, to meet with Robert C. Byrd's
disapproval, when you wanted something; especially after
so hypocritically voting against something and then
wanting that very thing for your own State.
We have an obligation to honor the legacy of this giant
of an individual, this giant of a Senator, this giant of a
public servant, and that means never losing sight of the
millions of Americans out there who don't know whether
they will have a home now or have a job, or whether they
will be able to afford electricity or food or a roof to
sleep under, or a way to take care of their children. But
he reminded us on a constant basis what our commitment
It also means, I think in reflection, that we should be
renewing our commitment, as hard as it is--and it is easy
to kind of pontificate here--to working together. But let
us look at what is happening. Let us look at what has been
happening now. I don't think this is an appropriate time
to voice lots of criticism, but when we see how difficult
it is to move positive things through this institution, it
is hard to understand, because the fundamentals that
Robert C. Byrd brought to his work were that we were here
to serve the public. That was the mission.
Rather than standing in the way of permitting things to
be considered--things of value--perhaps we ought to have a
Byrd lecture to the Senate-at-large every now and then and
let someone who knew him or studied him talk about what he
brought to the Senate, in addition to extraordinary
leadership; someone who could talk about the degree of
collegiality that is necessary for us to consider things--
serious things--and to get them done.
Senator Byrd recently said--and he said this on a
regular basis, ``The world has changed. But our
responsibilities, our duties as Senators have not changed.
We have a responsibility, a duty to the people to make our
country a better place.''
It would be fitting if in the shadow of his passing that
we could take a sledgehammer to partisan gridlock, put the
unnecessary rancor aside and start functioning in a
deliberative fashion once again.
I thank you, Senator Robert C. Byrd, for what you gave
to us and gave to this country. All of it will not be
recognized in these moments. But as history is reviewed,
people will remember--I hope they do--that even when he
made a mistake, a serious mistake in his early days--when
he was not eager to support desegregation; that he should
not have abided with segregationists; that this country
belonged to all the people and no one should be
discriminated against--that one can be forgiven with good
deeds after some bad ones. And he redeemed himself so
nobly, so wonderfully.
So we say, as we have been saying for these days, thank
you, Robert C Byrd. We loved being with you, and we will
Mr. WEBB. Mr. President, I have not yet had the
opportunity on the floor to express my regret for the
passing of Senator Robert Byrd and my incredible respect
for the service he gave our country.
I was only able to serve with Senator Byrd at the
twilight of his career. I knew him in my capacities as
Assistant Secretary and then Secretary of the Navy years
ago, and I admired him for many years as an individual of
fierce intellect. He was a strong proponent of the balance
of power, particularly protective of the powers of the
U.S. Congress as they relate to the executive branch,
which is an area I have also focused on over the years.
Senator Byrd had great love for the people of
Appalachia. He was their greatest champion. He was a self-
made man in every sense of the word--self-made
economically, born an orphan, and self-made in terms of
his own education.
I recall that when I was Secretary of the Navy, I had
the authority to name various combatants, and I named a
submarine the USS West Virginia. When I made the statement
about why I named it that, I pointed out that West
Virginia, in every war in the 20th century, ranked either
first or second in terms of its casualty rate. He was
someone who never forgot the contributions of the people
of that much-maligned State to the well-being and
greatness of our country. He left his mark on all of us,
and I would be remiss if I didn't express my regret in his
Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I rise today to pay
tribute to our departed Senate dean, Robert C. Byrd of
West Virginia. Senator Byrd served in this Chamber longer
than any Senator in history, more than 51 years. Combined
with 6 prior years in the House of Representatives,
Senator Byrd's service spanned nearly a quarter of the
history of the Republic, from the Truman administration to
the Obama one, longer than the span of my life.
To serve with Senator Byrd, as was my privilege for too
short a time, was to serve with a giant of the Senate, an
apotheosis of a long-ago age when oratory was an art. How
fortunate I was to sit on the Budget Committee several
chairs away from the man who wrote the Budget Act. I will
never forget a Budget Committee hearing last year at
which, with 35 years of hindsight, Senator Byrd reviewed
the very budget process that he had designed. On that
February morning, Senator Byrd delighted in describing his
crafting of the budget process and its implementation and
evolution over three and a half decades.
Tomorrow, for the first time since 1959 when Robert C.
Byrd was a 40-year-old first-year Senator, a departed
Member of this body will lie in repose in its Chamber. The
tribute will surely be fitting, as the Senate's most
senior Member occupies the floor one final time.
The man will be missed, but his legacy will continue to
guide this institution for generations to come, and the
institution to whose principles and welfare he dedicated
his life, the U.S. Senate, will endure with his lasting
imprint upon it.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, on Monday evening I came to
the floor and spoke from the heart about my friend Senator
Robert Byrd. I wanted to take the opportunity to submit a
more comprehensive statement about Senator Byrd and his
As I looked at his empty desk with flowers on it, I
thought back to last summer when we lost another giant,
Senator Ted Kennedy. And what distinguishes Senator Byrd,
like Senator Kennedy, from others was his unbelievable,
never-ending commitment to the people he represented and
to this country.
It was never a question of Senator Byrd's length of
service--though his was exceptional--but rather his fierce
sense of fighting for West Virginians. As he told the New
York Times in 2005, ``I'm proud I gave hope to my
Senator Byrd was, of course, the Nation's longest
serving Senator. And he was a legend, for sure. When I
came here, I learned first hand that he always met with
the incoming Senators, to give them an introduction to the
rules of the road, the procedures and dignity of the
Senate, and to share his reverence for the Constitution.
The image that I will always have of Robert C. Byrd is him
reaching inside his suit pocket and bringing out the
Constitution, which along with the Bible was what he
Senator Byrd was a giant in the Senate and a champion
for America's working families. We will miss his
eloquence, his sharp intellect, and his passionate
He was one of our Nation's foremost historians of the
Senate. He literally wrote the book on the Senate, a four-
volume history. And he was not only an expert on the rules
of the Senate, he was a fierce defender of its traditions
and its role in our democracy.
Senator Byrd fought to make sure every American had a
chance to live the American dream because he lived the
He grew up in coal country in southern West Virginia,
the youngest of five children. His mother died before he
was a year old, and he was raised by his aunt and uncle on
a farm with no telephone, electricity, or running water.
He went on to graduate first in his high school class
and married his high school sweetheart, Erma, to whom he
was devoted throughout their 68 years of marriage until
her death in 2006. To support his wife and two daughters
in the early years, he worked as a gas station attendant,
a grocery store clerk and as a welder in a shipyard during
World War II.
A naturally gifted speaker, he was elected to the West
Virginia House of Delegates in 1946 and to the West
Virginia Senate in 1950. He won a seat in Congress in 1952
and his U.S. Senate seat 6 years later. He had such a
passion for education that he remains the only American
ever to earn a law degree while serving in Congress.
President John F. Kennedy presented it to him at American
University in 1963.
His career in Congress spanned 12 Presidents, and he
cast more than 18,500 votes in the Senate. He was Senate
majority leader, chairman of the Appropriations Committee
and President pro tempore of the Senate. He fought every
day to make life better for the people of West Virginia
and for all Americans.
I can tell you, Mr. President, coming from the largest
State in the Union, we have had our share of problems. We
have had floods and fires and droughts and pests. And
every single time, after every earthquake or storm or
other disaster, Senator Feinstein and I came to our
colleagues to say that California needed the help of the
Every time we needed assistance, Senator Byrd, as the
chairman of the Appropriations Committee, opened his doors
and his heart to us, sharing his experiences and helping
us in all of these cases when we were so in need. I am
sure many of my colleagues can recount similar
experiences. He was always there for us.
And I remember so well his leadership in trying to bring
the troops home from Iraq. Twenty-three of us had stood up
and said no to that war, and afterward we worried very
much about what would happen with our troops in what was
shaping up to be a long war with no exit strategy. Opening
up his office here in the Capitol, Senator Byrd organized
us, saying, ``We need to talk about ways that we can bring
this war to an end.''
He cared so much about everything he did here, from
working to create opportunity for West Virginians and all
Americans to maintaining the traditions and the dignity of
the Senate. And for me, just to have been in his presence
and to watch him work has really been an amazing
experience, and so I am proud to pay tribute to him today.
Senator Byrd stayed here through thick and thin, with a
cane or a wheelchair, through the sheer force of will,
suffering to be in this place that he loved so much and
that he respected so much. There isn't a Member on either
side of the aisle that didn't respect Senator Byrd for his
intelligence, his strength, his extraordinary biography,
and his dedication to the people of his State.
What a legacy he leaves. It is a great loss for his
family, for all of us in the Senate, for the people of his
beloved State of West Virginia and for all Americans. I
extend my deepest condolences to his family.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
ORDER FOR PRINTING OF SENATE PRAYER
Mr. REID. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that
the prayer delivered by our Senate Chaplain on Thursday,
July 1, when the Senate gathered to remember Senator
Robert C. Byrd, be printed in the Record and as a part of
the memorial book of Senate tributes.
There being no objection, the prayer was ordered to be
printed in the Record, as follows:
[The Chaplain's prayer may be found on page 172.]
Ms. SNOWE. Mr. President, I join with my colleagues
today to express my profound and heartfelt sadness on the
passing of Senator Robert C. Byrd, as the U.S. Senate, the
people of West Virginia, and our entire Nation mourn the
loss of a giant of public service--a distinguished, iconic
legislator whose life and legacy will forever be
synonymous with the greatest deliberative body the world
has ever known.
Senator Byrd's counsel, wisdom, and knowledge of the
Senate was unmatched and awe inspiring. As the longest
serving Member of Congress and a former majority and
minority leader of the Senate, Senator Byrd was time and
again the conscience and champion of Congress and a
vigorous and stalwart sentinel of the first branch of our
government. Protector, steward, advocate, and guardian--
these descriptions only begin to convey Senator Byrd's
lifelong commitment to the Senate in which he served for a
record 51 years and an unprecedented nine terms.
No one fought more to ensure the preservation of the
U.S. Senate and its constitutional prerogatives than
Senator Byrd. No one was more masterful in comprehending
and harnessing the powers of parliamentary procedure in
the upper Chamber. No one was fiercer in battling against
any encroachments that would dilute or diminish the role
of Congress as a coequal branch of government. And no one
possessed greater command of Senate history and used it to
better effect than Senator Byrd, who himself authored a
four-volume history of the Senate.
The same zeal with which Senator Byrd demonstrated his
allegiance to the legislative branch was every bit as
evident in his unshakable dedication to the U.S.
Constitution itself--a pocket-sized copy of which he
carried at all times. In fact, like many of my colleagues,
I will never forget as a member of the ``Gang of 14,''
which was forged at a time when the very institution of
the Senate was caught in the crosshairs of a struggle over
judicial nominations, how each of us received a copy of
the Constitution from Senator Byrd. With one symbolic
gesture as only he could, Senator Byrd spoke volumes about
the historic imperative that was ours to seize if we were
to jettison the partisanship that threatened our Chamber.
Senator Byrd's reverence for history stemmed of course
from the premium he placed on education, and as much as
anyone who ever occupied a seat in the Senate, Senator
Byrd exemplified the American story of the self-made
individual. During his remarkable trajectory from humble
beginnings in the southern coalfields of West Virginia,
Senator Byrd was an ardent believer in learning not only
as the great equalizer in American life, but as a catalyst
for personal and professional success. A self-educated
man, Senator Byrd's knowledge of Shakespeare, the Holy
Bible, and the pillars of thought from Ancient Greece and
Rome formed the basis of an eloquence and service that
will reverberate not only in the hallowed Halls of
Congress, but also throughout his beloved home State--
which he served so passionately--for generations to come.
Indeed, his roots in West Virginia were ever-present and
the indispensable lifeblood that spurred him to political
and legislative heights that were the capstone of his
landmark tenure in public service. Indisputably, he never
forgot where he came from, and in fact, always remembered
he stood on the shoulders of every West Virginian who sent
him back to the U.S. Senate term after term. And as much
as Senator Byrd revered Congress, the Constitution, and
his fellow West Virginians, nowhere was his devotion
greater than with his beloved Erma, his wife of nearly 69
years, and they now are finally together in their eternal
As a Senator from Maine, it is only fitting that I pay
tribute to Senator Byrd by citing the opening lines by the
immortal American poet and son of Maine, Henry Wadsworth
Longfellow, that I so often heard him quote from memory on
the Senate floor:
Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State! Sail on, O Union,
strong and great! Humanity with all its fears, With all
the hopes of future years ...
Our Ship of State sails better for Senator Byrd's having
lived, served, and led. But today, our Ship of State sails
at a slower pace as we pause to pay our respects and mourn
the loss of a man whose like we will never see again. The
Senate will not be the same without the Senator from West
Virginia, Robert C. Byrd.
Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I rise today to pay
tribute to my friend and dear colleague, Senator Robert C.
Byrd, who left us on Monday, June 28, 2010, at the age of
92. Senator Byrd was the longest serving Member of the
Senate. It is noteworthy that he was sworn in as a U.S.
Senator on January 3, 1959, the same day Alaska was
admitted as the 49th State.
How does one do justice to a life as full, as human, as
authentic, as uniquely American as that of Senator Byrd's
in just a few minutes? Born in poverty, a self-described
foster son of an impoverished coal miner, a product of a
two-room schoolhouse, he went on to walk with Kings, to
meet with Prime Ministers, and to debate with Presidents.
Only in America could one come so far from so little. His
is a textbook case of American exceptionalism.
Robert C. Byrd was a man of principle who was unwavering
in his priorities. The Lord came first, his family second,
and then the business of West Virginia and the Nation.
Senator Byrd was remarkable in that he could juggle all of
these obligations with apparent ease.
He was a man who carried the Constitution in his breast
pocket, closest to his heart. A fierce protector of the
prerogatives of the Senate, he frequently recalled that
the Congress is mentioned in the Constitution before the
Executive. He once remarked, ``I am not the President's
man. I am a Senate man.''
So many of our colleagues take delight in this quote
from the Almanac of American Politics and it bears
repeating. The Almanac described Senator Byrd as the one
among us who ``may come closer to the kind of senator the
Founding Fathers had in mind than any other.''
On the occasion of his 90th birthday, Senator Ted
Stevens referred to Senator Byrd as a ``symbol of the
Senate,'' adding that, ``No man has taught the Senate more
than Robert C. Byrd.''
Senator Byrd made it his personal responsibility to
educate new Senators in the history and traditions of the
Senate and to mentor us along. He made a real difference
in my orientation to the Senate. His statesmanship was an
inspiration to me. It was an inspiration to all of us.
As contentious as our debates may seem, as partisan as
we often seem to the American public, the Senate prefers
to regard itself as a family. Yes, a family that fights,
but a family nonetheless.
Senator Stevens once observed, ``As part of the Senate
family, Senator Byrd is not only a gentleman, he has been
a person who has reached out to us in personal times as
I came to know that well after I injured my leg in a
skiing accident last year. For a period of time I had to
navigate the Senate floor in a wheelchair. The Senate
floor is not exactly wheelchair friendly, but Senator Byrd
had adapted to the challenge. One day, as we were going to
the floor to vote, our wheelchairs met and we reached out
to hold hands as we wheeled our chairs to the well of the
Like Ted, I loved Robert C. Byrd. Yet I regret that I
never had the opportunity to enjoy the close friendship
that my colleague Ted Stevens did.
Yes, they had their spats, but Senator Stevens and
Senator Byrd regarded each other as family. Senator
Stevens' daughter Lily referred to Senator Byrd as an
uncle. Senator Byrd published in the Congressional Record
excerpts from Lily's senior thesis from Stanford, The
Message of the Dome: The United States Capitol in the
Senator Stevens began working with Senator Byrd in 1968.
In 1972, they joined each other on the Senate
Appropriations Committee. Both served as President pro
tempore of the Senate, a position reserved for the most
senior Member of the Senate in the majority party. Yet as
Senator Byrd liked to note, Ted was a relative youngster.
Working together on a bipartisan basis, Ted Stevens
helped Robert Byrd lift West Virginia out of poverty. And
Senator Byrd demonstrated great empathy for Senator
Stevens' crusade to end the third-world conditions that
plague Alaska's Native people in the more than 230
traditional villages of rural Alaska. Like the West
Virginia of Robert Byrd's childhood, rural Alaska lacked
the sorts of infrastructure that the rest of America takes
for granted--lack of road infrastructure, lack of basic
sanitation facilities, unreliable electricity, and
This may explain why Senator Byrd was greatly
sympathetic to Senator Stevens' crusade to bring indoor
plumbing to rural Alaska, to eliminate the honey bucket.
Alaska's Denali Commission was modeled closely after the
Appalachian Regional Commission, which Senator Byrd
championed for decades.
Ted Stevens and Robert Byrd worked together to make
things better for the people of rural Alaska. Our Native
people deeply appreciate the Alaska legacy of Robert C.
On the occasion of Senator Stevens' farewell from the
Senate in 2008, a tearful Robert C. Byrd came to the
Senate floor and said this:
Politics is a rough business, with lots of highs and
lots of lows. After a long time in politics, I come to
understand that the point of it all is helping people.
Thank God we will be judged in the next world by the good
we do in this world.
On Monday, our dear friend, Senator Byrd, joined his
beloved wife Erma in heaven, where he will be judged by
all of the good he has done for his Lord, his family, the
people of West Virginia, and the Nation. I will miss him
On behalf of Alaska's people, I extend my condolences to
Senator Byrd's daughters Mona and Marjorie, his six
grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, to the people
of West Virginia, and to all who knew and loved this great
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. President, I rise today to honor the
memory of one of the Senate's giants, Robert C. Byrd. My
family and I were saddened to learn of his passing on
Monday morning at the age of 92. I will remember Senator
Byrd as a fierce defender of the Constitution, master of
Senate procedure and a proud fighter for West Virginia and
its rural heritage. Senator Byrd was more than just a
colleague, he was a mentor. He taught me--and everyone who
had the honor of serving with him--never to apologize for
standing up for your State.
During more than a half century of service in Congress,
Senator Byrd gave a voice to those who would not have been
heard otherwise. There are times when it is easy to get
caught up in the petty bickering and partisan squabbles
that seem to be increasingly plaguing this Chamber. But,
we would all do well to follow the example Senator Byrd
set for all of us during his legendary Senate career and
never lose sight of the fact that we are sent here to
fight for those in our home States and across the country
who cannot fight for themselves.
Senator Byrd's work on behalf of his constituents is
well known. West Virginians knew they could count on their
senior Senator to come here to Washington and deliver for
them. They were not alone. I will never forget how helpful
Senator Byrd was to my State. Louisiana lost a true
friend. Through storms and floods, Senator Byrd made sure
that promises made to the gulf coast, particularly to
Louisiana, were not broken. He kept an eye on the fair and
just distribution of funds to Gulf Coast States, and I and
everyone I represent will always be grateful for his
dedication to our recovery.
One critical example is his effort to provide funding
for Louisiana's Road Home Program. Road Home, which is the
largest single housing recovery program in U.S. history,
was designed to provide compensation to Louisiana
homeowners whose houses were destroyed by Hurricane
Katrina or Rita. In late 2007, as Louisiana faced a
daunting program shortfall, it was Senator Byrd who
stepped up to help me secure $3 billion to keep this
rebuilding program going.
A year later, Senator Byrd once again stood up for the
people of Louisiana, when he worked with me to include
$8.7 billion for gulf coast hurricane recovery and
protection in the emergency supplemental spending bill for
Iraq and Afghanistan. The funding provided for levees,
criminal justice needs, health care and housing for low-
income hurricane survivors.
Senator Byrd once said, ``The people of Louisiana have
the strength and the spirit to rebuild their homes and
their communities. We owe them the support to get the job
done.'' He did not just pay lipservice to the gulf coast.
He delivered for us time and again, because he understood
the importance of standing up for those who were hit so
hard by the tragic storms that battered the Louisiana
Senator Byrd was not just a colleague who put his weight
behind fighting for the gulf coast region. He was also a
walking encyclopedia of Senate history, and he was always
willing to impart his vast knowledge to anyone who wanted
to learn about the legends that walked these Halls for
more than two centuries before us.
When I was first sworn in as a U.S. Senator, back in
1997, my entire family came to Washington for the event.
After it was over, I asked Senator Byrd if he would give
my family--both adults and children--a history lesson on
the Senate. He graciously obliged, and for 2 full hours
spoke eloquently and expertly on the history of this great
body. His lecture left a lasting impression on every
single member of the Landrieu family, and it is a memory
we will always cherish.
Senator Byrd spoke with such passion about John C.
Calhoun, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Rebecca Felton,
Everett Dirksen and the many other historical figures who
shaped the Senate. It is only appropriate that he will
forever be mentioned in the same breath with these men and
women he so truly admired. And, it makes me proud to have
had the opportunity to serve with a man who left such an
indelible mark on this Chamber.
As we reflect on Senator Byrd's remarkable life and
career, our prayers are with the Byrd family. But we all
take comfort in knowing that while he leaves behind one of
his great loves--the Senate--he is finally going home to
be with his greatest love--Erma.
Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, Senator Pete Domenici from
New Mexico served in this body for 36 years. During that
time, he was the first Republican chairman of the Budget
Committee and later chaired the Energy Committee where,
more than almost anyone, he helped spur the revival of
interest in nuclear energy. He was truly one of the most
consequential Senators of the last half century. As we
mourn the loss of another very consequential Member of
this Chamber, Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, I
thought it was appropriate to share Senator Domenici's
thoughts on the passing of Senator Byrd.
I ask unanimous consent that Senator Domenici's
statement be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be
printed in the Record, as follows:
Statement of Senator Pete Domenici on the Passing of
Senator Robert C. Byrd
I'm sorry I can't be at Senator Robert Byrd's memorial
service in person because I'm celebrating the first family
reunion with my eight children--and their children--from
across the country. My wife will join me at this event,
and I will be prevented from attending the ceremony for my
great friend, Robert Byrd.
I worked with Senator Byrd for my entire 36 years in the
Senate. Above all else, I found him a man that one could
trust implicitly. He and I both served on the Senate
Appropriations Committee for many years, where he was a
strong advocate for his home State. He and I both
supported local projects for our States and believed that
``earmarks'' were not only legitimate, but part of the
Senator's duty to his State.
When history is finally written of the U.S. Senate there
is little doubt in my mind that he will go down as one of
the greatest of all. He knew the rules and he played by
them. He knew the issues and he fought for them. He
understood America's greatness and he heralded it. But
most of all, he seemed to always remember the working men
and women of his State and this country. He will be
missed. I must say thank you, Robert, for your friendship
and all you did for me and all of us.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, West Virginia, the U.S.
Senate, and our Nation have experienced an incredible
loss. Over the last few weeks, this Chamber witnessed
poignant eulogies and remembrances of the legendary
Senator Robert Byrd. Much has been said and written since
Senator Byrd's death on June 28, 2010.
Those who have so eloquently written and spoken knew the
Senator much better than I--Presidents, Senators, world
leaders, dignitaries, as well as members of his family and
friends in West Virginia.
He will be remembered as an intelligent, compassionate,
and illustrious figure. A giant.
Many people have recalled his historic milestones,
distinguished career, and legendary speeches. I first met
Senator Byrd when I arrived in the Senate in 2007. I
introduced myself and told him about a friend and patient
of mine from Wyoming who had told me that Robert Byrd was
his favorite Senator. Like Senator Byrd, my friend uses a
wheelchair. Senator Byrd asked me why my friend liked him
so much. I told him it was because of their mutual
commitment to the Constitution.
I went on to say that he thought Senator Byrd was the
``best thing since sliced bread.'' Senator Byrd's eyes
brightened and widened with the reference to sliced bread.
He then gave me a complete history of sliced bread in
America and the date when the first mechanical bread
slicer was used in the United States. As a true man of the
people, Senator Byrd also sent a note and a copy of the
Constitution to my friend in Wyoming.
When former Wyoming Senator Cliff Hansen died late last
year, I shared the news with Senator Byrd. Senator Byrd
said, ``I liked Cliff Hansen. Cliff Hansen was a friend of
mine. Cliff Hansen knew what he stood for.'' The same can
be said for Senator Byrd.
As a public servant, he had few equals. As a
parliamentary expert, he had none. Every day, Senator Byrd
showed his enduring dedication to his family, the people
of West Virginia, the U.S. Constitution, and our Nation.
Senator Byrd leaves us with a memory of the man--the
memory of his kindness, grace, and passion. He had a depth
of institutional understanding and knowledge of the
traditions of the U.S. Senate that will never be replaced.
While many of us are students of history, Senator Byrd
truly lived this Nation's history. His strength,
determination, and unyielding pursuit of knowledge serve
as a model for all of us.
To his daughters Mona Byrd Fatemi and Marjorie Byrd
Moore, his grandchildren, and family, I extend my family's
sympathy and hope the coming days are filled with love,
enduring strength, and God's grace.
Bobbi and I wish the Byrd family our best and our
prayers are with you.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I rise today to pay tribute to
our dear departed friend and colleague, Senator Robert
Byrd of West Virginia. I have been deeply moved by the
words of remembrance we have heard here in the Senate this
week and I am honored to have been here today as Senator
Byrd has lied in repose on the Senate floor. It is a
fitting tribute to the man who, over the course of an
astounding tenure of 52 years, came to embody the Senate,
its traditions, and its rules.
Robert Byrd was born in North Wilkesboro, North
Carolina, in 1917. He was valedictorian of Mark Twain High
School and, through the course of his life, attended four
separate colleges in West Virginia as well as the American
University College of Law. In the early days of his
career, he was, at one time or another, a grocery clerk, a
butcher, and a shipyard welder before beginning his
political career in 1946, when he was elected to the West
Virginia House of Delegates. After 5 years in the West
Virginia Legislature, he was elected to the House of
Representatives in 1952, beginning what would be the
longest tenure in the history of the U.S. Congress.
Senator Byrd came to the Senate in 1959. He served right
up until his death on June 28 of this year. During his
time in the Senate, he was known for his skills as a
Parliamentarian and his knowledge of Senate rules and
procedure. He put these abilities to great use, serving in
the Democratic leadership--as either the whip or the
leader--for nearly two decades. Senator Byrd's ability to
use the parliamentary rules to his advantage is legendary.
Indeed, I can think of few others who had such a great
understanding of what can be an arduous and difficult set
of rules and procedures.
His knowledge of the traditions and history of the
Senate were also quite noteworthy. In 1989, the
bicentennial anniversary of our cherished Constitution,
Senator Byrd published a four-volume series on Senate
history, which is a definitive work in describing and
outlining the storied traditions of this great Chamber.
Senator Byrd's love of this body was known to all. He
expressed his love for the Senate at every opportunity and
much of his time was spent trying to preserve those rules
and traditions he held dear.
Mr. President, this Chamber has suffered a great loss.
But, my sadness is tempered by the thought that Senator
Byrd is now reunited with his wife Erma, to whom he was
married for nearly 70 years. I want to express my
sincerest condolences to Senator Byrd's family.
Mr. BUNNING. Mr. President, today I want to speak on the
loss of the great statesman, orator, and author, Senator
Robert Byrd. Senator Byrd served the State of West
Virginia and this great Nation in the Senate for over 50
years. It has been an honor to serve and craft legislation
with Senator Byrd to protect and promote the values of our
two States, which share a common border and economy. He
represented his State well.
Following my election to the Senate, Senator Byrd
offered me valuable advice and direction on the operations
and rules of the U.S. Senate. Upon learning of his
passing, my wife Mary and I were deeply saddened by the
Starting from humble beginnings, Senator Byrd was a
great example of the virtue of hard work and
determination. After losing his mother during the
influenza epidemic of 1918, Senator Byrd was sent to live
with his aunt and uncle in the coal mining region of
southern West Virginia. With a combination of his strong
work ethic and quest for knowledge, Senator Byrd graduated
as valedictorian of his high school class. Despite his
stellar academic achievements, Senator Byrd was unable to
attend college following his high school commencement due
to financial constraints.
At the age of 19, Senator Byrd married his high school
sweetheart and lifetime soulmate Erma Ora James. In an
effort to support his growing family, Senator Byrd took
jobs which included working as a gas station attendant and
butcher, to put his family first.
After serving in the West Virginia House of Delegates
and Senate, Senator Byrd was first elected to the U.S.
House of Representatives and began serving in 1953. Unable
to stop his quest for knowledge, Senator Byrd began
attending night classes at the American University's
Washington College of Law where he received his degree a
Senator Byrd's love for this country and the Senate
itself could be seen in many ways such as the copy of the
U.S. Constitution tucked away in his jacket pocket and his
vast knowledge of the rules of the Senate. As he said to
many of us, ``he who knows the rules will rule.''
He believed, as I do, in the power of the Senate. He
understood that the Senate should not be beholden to the
executive branch, but must remain separate and equal to
provide the necessary checks. As he stated:
We must never, ever, tear down the only wall--the
necessary fence--this Nation has against the excesses of
the Executive Branch and the resultant haste and tyranny
of the majority.
Even in his frustration of the current political climate
and through his remaining days, Senator Byrd continued to
fight for the protection of the rules of the Senate and
the rights of the minority, because as he wrote, ``I know
what it is to be majority leader, and wake up on a
Wednesday morning in November, and find yourself a
I extend my thoughts and prayers to his surviving
children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. During
this time of difficulty, there is strength in knowing
Senator Byrd has once again been reunited with his
sweetheart and the grandson he missed dearly.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Mrs. HUTCHISON. Madam President, I join my colleagues in
paying tribute to our colleague Robert Byrd of West
Virginia. He served his beautiful Mountain State for a
record-setting 57 years in Congress, including 51 years in
this Chamber. He cast more roll call votes and served in
more leadership positions than any other Senator in U.S.
history, including 12 years as his party's leader. He
revered this body so much that he wrote four volumes on
Senate history from 1789 to 1989. Over nine terms, he
mastered parliamentary procedure in an effort to protect
the Senate's rules and to defend the legislative branch's
authority. He carried a copy of the Constitution in his
pocket, and he peppered his speeches with frequent
references to the intent of our Framers. When asked how
many Presidents he had served under, he replied, ``None. I
have served with Presidents, not under them.''
Senator Byrd will enter the history books as one of the
Senate's true giants, but his beginnings were humble. His
biography is a shining testament to the American dream. He
was adopted in infancy and raised in impoverished coal
mining towns. His first job was to collect garbage scraps
for his family's hogs. Although he graduated valedictorian
of his 1934 high school class, at first he could not
afford college. He married his high school sweetheart,
Erma Ora James, with whom he enjoyed more than 68 happy
years. The outstanding work ethic and solid values that he
learned while growing up in Raleigh County helped him
later devote 10 grueling years of his life to studying
while simultaneously serving as a Member of Congress. When
he finally earned his law degree in 1963, President John
F. Kennedy awarded him his diploma.
Senator Byrd served his beloved home State with
unprecedented devotion. He wrote in his autobiography that
``it has been my constant desire to improve the lives of
the people who have sent me to Washington time and
again.'' Virtually every county in West Virginia will long
remember his hard work, dedication, and legendary
contributions. Like many Americans today, I commend him
for his outstanding service to his State, to our Nation,
and to the institution of the Senate.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I join my colleagues in
appreciation and admiration of Senator Robert Byrd.
By the time I took my seat in this Chamber, Senator Byrd
had already held his for more than four decades. He had
already held numerous leadership positions, including
Senate majority leader and President pro tempore. He had
already become a master of parliamentary procedure. He had
already championed many Federal projects that still bear
his name in his home State of West Virginia.
Senator Byrd won the admiration of all his colleagues
for his study of the history of this body. He delivered
hundreds of addresses on Senate history and procedure, as
well as the debt we owe to the original Senate that
governed ancient Rome for centuries. For such work,
Senator Byrd has earned the gratitude of all future
generations of Americans.
Texans especially appreciate Senator Byrd's attention to
the contributions of our Senators to the history of this
body. Senator Sam Houston, the original occupant of the
seat I hold, was described by Senator Byrd in this way:
The flamboyant Sam Houston of Texas used to stride into
the old Senate Chamber wearing such eye-catching
accessories as a leopard-skin waist-coat, a bright red
vest, or a Mexican sombrero ... . He would while away the
time in the old Chamber by whittling, creating a pile of
shavings beneath his desk, and pages would bring him his
pine blocks and then clean up the shavings.
Senator Byrd also devoted several speeches of his
history to the tenure of Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, which
were all collected into a single chapter upon publication.
In personal interviews with then-current and former
Senators, Senator Byrd documents a remarkably personal
account of Senator Johnson's leadership style and his
influence over landmark legislation, including the Civil
Rights Act of 1957.
During his discussion of Senator Johnson's use of the
quorum call, Senator Byrd was asked to yield by his
friend, Senator Russell Long of Louisiana, who wished to
clarify his own recollection of the matter. Senator Long
then continued with a fitting tribute to the Senator from
I have no doubt that in years to come, his will be the
most authoritative text anyone will be able to find to say
what did happen and what did not happen in the Senate,
both while the Senator from West Virginia was a member and
in the years prior thereto.
I can offer no better epitaph to Senator Byrd than that
offered by his former colleague more than two decades ago.
He and his beloved Erma have now been reunited, and we
offer our condolences to their children, grandchildren,
great-grandchildren, and all who miss him most.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Mrs. LINCOLN. Mr. President, the death of Senator Robert
Byrd is a tremendous loss to the Senate, the State of West
Virginia, and the entire Nation. As the longest serving
Member of Congress, his political career spanned multiple
Presidencies, and he was a witness to countless American
advances and achievements. He has served his State and our
country for more than half a century, and he will be
Senator Byrd embodied the history and traditions of the
Senate, and his incredible knowledge of our Constitution,
Congress, and the legislative process benefited every
Member who served alongside him. I met with Senator Byrd
when I was first elected to the Senate, and I will be
forever grateful for his generosity and willingness to
assist his colleagues.
I will always remember Senator Byrd as a committed
public servant who was deeply devoted to his State and his
country. He was known as the conscience of the Senate for
his dedication to the body's history, legislative process,
and rules, serving as a principled legislator. He made
many sacrifices to give his life to public service, and we
owe a lot to Senator Byrd for this reason. I am deeply
saddened by his passing and know he will be missed.
Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I rise to pay tribute to a
colleague whose devotion to this body, and to this Nation,
was personal, heartfelt, and legendary. I am talking about
none other than the senior Senator from West Virginia,
Senator Robert Byrd.
Senator Byrd's time on Earth was a life characterized by
commitment. He exemplified this rare quality through his
68-year marriage to his high school sweetheart Erma James
Byrd. But this was far from the only deep commitment in
Senator Byrd's life. His dedication to the U.S. Senate was
proved by his actions and his storied career. His life in
the Senate began in 1958 with a victory that included 59
percent of the vote, the smallest margin of victory in
Senator Byrd's half century-plus career. During his 57
years in Congress, Byrd worked with 12 Presidents. He was
known for telling his colleagues that he did not serve
under any Presidents, but alongside them.
In Senator Byrd's portrait in the Old Senate Chamber,
his image is surrounded by his wife, the Bible, and the
U.S. Constitution. This is only fitting, considering that
Senator Byrd used references from the Bible and the U.S.
Constitution in many of his speeches and in his everyday
dealings with fellow lawmakers. In a speech by Senator
Byrd on October 13, 1989, he said:
The Constitution is the old landmark which they have
set. And if we do not rise to the call of the moment and
take a stand, take a strong stand, against our own
personal interests or against party interests, and stand
for the Constitution, then how might we face our children
and grandchildren when they ask of us as Caesar did to the
centurion, ``How do we fare today?'' and the centurion
replied, ``You will be victorious.'' As for myself,
whether I live or die, tonight I shall have earned the
praise of Caesar.
I can say that Senator Byrd is deserving of the praise
of West Virginians, and, indeed, all Americans, for his
devotion to the Senate and to our Nation. He will be
missed by his colleagues, and we are grateful for his
Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, no Senator has ever loved the
institution of the U.S. Senate more than Senator Robert
Byrd. I firmly believe that. He truly believed that the
upper Chamber of Congress was the greatest deliberative
body on Earth and he always strived to preserve its
traditions and history for the generations to come as well
as being the Senate's foremost instructor on Senate
procedure and process.
I was able to be a student of Senator Byrd's instruction
when we worked together in 2005 to preserve Senate rule
XXII, commonly known as the filibuster. Senator Byrd
joined with me, along with 6 other Republican Senators and
6 Democrat Senators to form what became the ``Gang of
14.'' During the meetings between these 14 Members, which
were often held in my office, I fondly recall the silence
that would overcome the room when Senator Byrd spoke about
the history of the filibuster and the rights of the
minority in the Senate. It is not often that 13 Members of
the Senate are quiet for any given period of time. But
Senator Byrd's stature and intellect brought the room to a
Senator Byrd is remembered for being a strong majority
leader and minority leader for his party. But as he
reminded all of us during those meetings in my office,
when he served as majority leader during President
Reagan's time in office, Senator Byrd did not lead his
Democratic caucus to filibuster any of President Reagan's
judicial nominees. That was a different time with
different leaders, but Senator Byrd's actions reflect his
sincere desire for statesmanship and his respect for the
President's nominees. His speech on the Senate floor in
2005 regarding the filibuster reflected this desire when
I rise today to make a request of my fellow Senators. In
so doing, I reach out to all Senators on both sides of the
aisle, respectful of the institution of the Senate and of
the opinions of all Senators, respectful of the
institution of the Presidency as well. I ask each Senator
to pause for a moment and reflect seriously on the role of
the Senate as it has existed now for 217 years, and on the
role that it will play in the future if the so-called
nuclear option or the so-called constitutional option--one
and the same--is invoked. I implore Senators to step
back--step back, step back, step back--from the precipice.
Step back away from the cameras and the commentators and
contemplate the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
Things are not right, and the American people know that
things are not right. The political discourse in our
country has become so distorted, so unpleasant, so
strident, so unbelievable ...
He was not only a leader in 2005 against removing the
judicial filibuster rule, he was a lifelong leader in the
Senate against allowing Senators to issue secret holds.
His motives were noble, and he fought for its elimination
until the end. In his final speech, entered into the
Record but not delivered, he defended an individual
Senator's right to block legislation in secret. ``Our
Founding Fathers intended the Senate,'' he lectured
colleagues last month in one of his last appearances, to
have ``unlimited debate and the protection of minority
Senator Byrd's respect for Senate rules and procedure
were second only to his defense and passion for the
Constitution. Because of his leadership, we were able to
establish September 17 as Constitution Day. Now, annually,
students across the country will learn about and celebrate
the document that governs our Nation and hopefully
understand the significance of this unparalleled document
that has established freedom and sovereignty of our
citizens for hundreds of years.
Senator Byrd spent practically all of his adult life
serving the American people for which we are all grateful.
Even when he disagreed with his peers in the Senate, he
respected their intellect and views. I am honored to have
served beside him. He once said, ``On the great issues,
the Senate has always been blessed with senators who were
able to rise above party and consider first and foremost
the national interest.'' I agree and hope the Senate
continues to attract candidates who will rise above
politics for the good of our country and who will
appreciate the history of the institution as Senator Byrd
Senator Byrd gave his life to the service of his country
and the Senate and the Nation will miss him and the
important leadership and sense of history that he brought
to this body every day.
Mr. BEGICH. Mr. President, today I would like to add to
the heartfelt sentiments we have heard expressed by many
colleagues and many more around the country over these
past several weeks in paying tribute to our departed
colleague, Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia.
As an American, pondering what Senator Byrd has done,
the history he has been a part of, and the path he took
from the small towns of southern West Virginia's
coalfields, is inspiring. From the perspective of a new
Senator, I must say that the life and career of Senator
Byrd is more than a little daunting. I have served just
shy of 20 months, and I have voted in this Chamber
slightly more than 600 times.
Those numbers seem like rounding errors compared to the
numbers we have heard over the last several days in
reference to the service of Senator Byrd: Elected to nine
full terms, more than 51 years in the Senate--more than 4
years longer than the next longest serving Senator; he
cast nearly 19,000 votes, 18,689, including 4,705
consecutive votes; he was twice majority leader; served
also as whip, conference secretary, minority leader, and
President pro tempore; and he served on the Appropriations
Committee continuously since being placed there in 1959 by
then-Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson as a freshman in this
body--more than 3 years before I was born and only about 2
weeks after Alaska became a State.
I am told by colleagues who served longer with Senator
Byrd that while he was proud of those facts, the record he
cherished the most was the time he spent with the love of
his life, his childhood sweetheart and wife of 68 years,
Erma. Senator Byrd was a man of deep faith, but from what
I have heard of them as a couple, I do not doubt that all
the glories of the afterlife pale for Senator Byrd
compared to rejoining Erma.
I came to the Senate too late to hear most of his
greatest speeches, but when he spoke, whether it was about
a funding bill or the wars that we continue to wage, you
listened. We all felt a great sadness when Senator Kennedy
died last year, but many of us probably came to appreciate
the depth of the historical significance of his departure
from this body months earlier when we heard and saw
another of the great legislators in American history,
Robert C. Byrd, weep openly and unabashedly as he paid
tribute to his friend and colleague. My service with
Senator Byrd was nowhere as lengthy as his with Senator
Kennedy, but I am profoundly affected by the honor of
knowing the man, even for these past 2 years.
In the short time we did serve together, I have still
been able to learn from Senator Byrd. He was a statesman
and a pillar of this institution, and a genuine historical
figure that my son Jacob will learn about in school. But
the thing that I will take from watching Senator Byrd that
showed every day that we served together was that nothing
was more important than the work he did for the people of
the State that sent him here. All of us look to the people
of our States for guidance on the matters of the day, and
certainly Senator Byrd was attuned to the thoughts of the
people of West Virginia. But there was more to it than
just knowing what the people of his State thought.
His whole career was about making West Virginia a better
place, expanding its infrastructure, educating its people,
supporting its industries, and providing the circumstances
in which economic development could take root and
flourish. Improving the lives of the people of his State
was what motivated Senator Byrd to come here almost 19,000
times for votes on any number of issues.
As I think of the impact Senator Byrd's career has had
on West Virginia, I cannot help but think of the
similarities between our two States. Alaska and West
Virginia are both mostly rural, energy-producing States
with pockets of intractable poverty. It is a mark of
respect for his success at changing the world for the
better that West Virginia has fewer poverty-stricken
residents, and that remote regions of his State are less
difficult to travel to and from than when Senator Byrd was
first elected to Congress. He was an ardent supporter of
the Appalachian Regional Commission, ARC, which was
created to help solve the problems of poverty and
hopelessness in his State by upgrading insufficient public
infrastructure, building and maintaining educational
facilities, and providing access to public and private
sector assistance to improve health care, foster economic
development and diversity, and provide opportunities for
the people of the region beyond energy extraction and the
few other traditional industries that existed there.
It is no surprise that when my predecessor, Senator Ted
Stevens, was looking for a way to improve the lives of
Alaskans, he saw in the ARC that his close friend and
colleague, Senator Byrd, had worked so hard to support a
model for the Denali Commission that he believed could
create similar hope and opportunity in our State. My
colleagues and I in the Alaska congressional delegation
today are just as dedicated to the potential the Denali
Commission represents for our State. We can only hope to
have as much positive impact on the lives of Alaskans as
Senator Byrd had with those of the West Virginians he was
so proud to represent.
I do not have as many great stories about Senator Byrd
as many of our other colleagues, but I will close with
observations about the man, hard at work doing what he
knew was right for his people, which inspired me. As the
Senate worked to reform the Nation's health care system
last year, a number of votes were late at night or early
in the morning, and as many will remember, the weather
last December was uncharacteristically cold and snowy. As
an Alaskan and a relatively young man, getting to the
Capitol during a blizzard was not a big ordeal. Watching
Senator Byrd, in his nineties and in obvious frail health,
make his way to the Senate Chamber time and time again in
his wheelchair, including for a final vote very early on
the morning of Christmas Eve, was an inspiration. Seeing
it then, and reflecting on it in the last several days,
made me appreciate more fully the man's dedication to the
people he served.
Every State deserves Senators with those motivations,
and while I will always marvel at the man's encyclopedic
knowledge of the Senate and countless other things, the
thing I will emulate about the life and career of Robert
C. Byrd, for however long the voters of Alaska choose to
have me as their Senator, is that my job is to make the
lives of Alaskans better.
I believe Senator Byrd would approve.
Mr. BROWN of Massachusetts. Mr. President, today I rise
to speak about our Nation's longest serving Senator who
dedicated his life to public service. Senator Byrd first
came to the Senate the same year I was born, 1959, and I
took office just a few months before he passed away.
Though I did not have the opportunity to know him well,
each day I learn more of his legacy and his impact on what
he referred to as the Second Great Senate.
Robert Byrd was a staunch defender of the Constitution
and the institution of the Senate. Many have told the
story of how he carried his pocket Constitution in his
jacket wherever he went to remind us all of that
document's importance in making the laws of today. His
speeches on the Senate floor were legendary and
illustrated his devotion to the place where he served for
more than 50 years.
In his role as a Senator from West Virginia, Robert Byrd
worked tirelessly to modernize his State and end its
economic isolation. But he did more than just serve his
State. Robert Byrd's dedication to the complexity and the
many traditions of the Senate was extraordinary. He was
passionately, and often solely, committed to the Founders'
wise intent that the Senate was to remain a bulwark
against the power of the Presidency.
Through relentless effort, dedication, and commitment,
Robert Byrd rose from humble beginnings to become one of
our Nation's most skilled legislators. I thank him for his
many years of public service in representing West Virginia
and our Nation. My thoughts and prayers go out to his
family and friends as they mourn his great loss.
Mr. BENNETT. Mr. President, I rise today to offer my
sincere condolences following the passing of my friend and
colleague, Senator Robert C. Byrd. This is obviously the
end of an era. Senator Byrd has seen the landing of a man
on the Moon, the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the
resignation of one President and the impeachment trial of
another, and countless other significant and historical
landmarks during his unparalleled Senate career.
Each of us has his or her own memories of Senator Byrd's
kindness and devotion to the Senate as an institution. The
place will not be the same without him.
My wife Joyce and I extend our deepest condolences to
his daughters and the entire Byrd family.
Proceedings in the House of Representatives
Monday, June 28, 2010
The Chaplain, the Reverend Daniel P. Coughlin, offered
the following prayer:
Beneath Your creative hand, O Lord, every garden needs
Education and formation of character is never a finished
product for Your people.
Constant care and oversight as well as discerning
analysis and fresh energy are required daily for
governance of a good society.
Therefore, Lord God, grant Your servants patience,
perseverance, and determination to work hard to attain the
goals Your Providence sets before us, today and every day
as long as life shall last.
Reward the long labor of Senator Robert Byrd. Grant him
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
MESSAGE FROM THE SENATE
A message from the Senate by Ms. Curtis, one of its
clerks, announced that the Senate agreed to the following
S. Res. 572
In the Senate of the United States, June 28, 2010.
Whereas the Honorable Robert C. Byrd served the people
of his beloved state of West Virginia for over 63 years,
serving in the West Virginia House of Delegates, the West
Virginia Senate, the United States House of
Representatives, and the United States Senate;
Whereas the Honorable Robert C. Byrd is the only West
Virginian to have served in both Houses of the West
Virginia Legislature and in both Houses of the United
Whereas the Honorable Robert C. Byrd has served for
fifty-one years in the United States Senate and is the
longest serving Senator in history, having been elected to
nine full terms;
Whereas the Honorable Robert C. Byrd has cast more than
18,680 rollcall votes--more than any other Senator in
Whereas the Honorable Robert C. Byrd has served in the
Senate leadership as President pro tempore, Majority
Leader, Majority Whip, Minority Leader, and Secretary of
the Majority Conference;
Whereas the Honorable Robert C. Byrd has served on a
Senate committee, the Committee on Appropriations, which
he has chaired during five Congresses, longer than any
Whereas the Honorable Robert C. Byrd is the first
Senator to have authored a comprehensive history of the
United States Senate;
Whereas the Honorable Robert C. Byrd has played an
essential role in the development and enactment of an
enormous body of national legislative initiatives and
policy over many decades; and
Whereas his death has deprived his State and Nation of
an outstanding lawmaker and public servant: Now,
therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate has heard with profound sorrow
and deep regret the announcement of the death of the
Honorable Robert C. Byrd, Senator from the State of West
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate communicate
these resolutions to the House of Representatives and
transmit an enrolled copy thereof to the family of the
Resolved, That when the Senate adjourns today, it stand
adjourned as a further mark of respect to the memory of
the deceased Senator.
MOMENT OF SILENCE IN REMEMBRANCE OF THE LATE HONORABLE
ROBERT C. BYRD
(Mr. RAHALL asked and was given permission to address
the House for 1 minute.)
Mr. RAHALL. Madam Speaker, as we all know, the country
and our State of West Virginia has lost a true public
servant. He was a dear friend to many of us. He was an
individual who defended our Constitution and an individual
who truly had the best interests of the American people in
mind every day.
I would ask that the House take a moment of silent
prayer on behalf of the late Honorable senior Senator from
West Virginia, Robert C. Byrd.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Members will rise and observe a
moment of silence.
Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Speaker, I offer a privileged resolution
and ask for its immediate consideration.
The Clerk read the resolution, as follows:
H. Res. 1484
Resolved, That the House has heard with profound sorrow
of the death of the Honorable Robert C. Byrd, a Senator
from the State of West Virginia.
Resolved, That a committee of such Members of the House
as the Speaker may designate, together with such Members
of the Senate as may be joined, be appointed to attend the
Resolved, That the Clerk communicate these resolutions
to the Senate and transmit a copy thereof to the family of
Resolved, That when the House adjourns today, it adjourn
as a further mark of respect to the memory of the deceased
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from West
Virginia is recognized for 1 hour.
Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield the customary 30
minutes to the gentlewoman from West Virginia (Mrs.
Capito). ... Mr. Speaker, I am honored to yield 1 minute
to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Pelosi), the
Speaker of the House.
Ms. PELOSI. I am honored to join you, Chairman Rahall
and Congresswoman Capito, in singing the praises of a
great man, Senator Byrd. I rise today to remember the
extraordinary life and legacy of Senator Robert C. Byrd of
West Virginia, a man who loved his State, loved this
country, and was such an important part of this Congress.
Throughout his remarkable career, he worked for all
Americans, and he never stopped fighting for the people of
West Virginia. While we are here, we all take pride in
bearing witness to history. Senator Byrd shaped it, and in
shaping history, he built a better future for all
His story was the true embodiment of the American dream.
An orphan at a young age, Senator Byrd refused to allow
his circumstances to limit the reach of his potential or
A son of West Virginia's coal country, he was the first
in his family to be educated above the second grade. He
worked as a butcher and a welder and entered office to
serve his community and his neighbors. In doing so, he
would ultimately make America a better place for every
Though many note his mastery of the Senate, I note that
Robert Byrd's service began in the Congress here in the
House of Representatives in 1953. His service in the House
is a source of pride to all of us, though Senator Byrd
remarked that he was happy to leave behind the limitations
on speaking time that apply on the House floor. In fact, I
checked the Congressional Record myself on that. In the
year that Senator Byrd first came to Congress, I found
that in one single floor speech he managed to quote the
Book of Ecclesiastes, Shakespeare's The Merchant of
Venice, Daniel Webster, and Rudyard Kipling, all while
discussing trade policy. That was a sign of the great
oratory that would come over the next 57 years. In that
time, Senator Byrd would become Congress' foremost scholar
on the institutions of our democracy. He always spoke
truth to power. He served as a voice of reason. He was
always a gentleman, charming any friend or foe.
Today, the entire Nation mourns the loss of this great
champion, leader, and public servant. For more than 57
years, Congress has benefited from his wisdom and passion.
For generations to come, Robert C. Byrd's name will remain
etched in history books for his accomplishments and for
Senator Byrd has gone home to be with his beloved Erma.
We hope it is a comfort to the Byrd family that so many
join them in grieving their loss at this sad time.
Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the
distinguished majority leader of the House of
Representatives, the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Hoyer).
Mr. HOYER. I thank the distinguished Member from West
Virginia, the chairman of our Natural Resources Committee,
Nick Joe Rahall, of whom Robert Byrd was very proud.
I also am pleased to recognize the Speaker pro tempore,
Alan Mollohan, of whom Robert Byrd was very proud, and who
he considered a partner. I thank Congresswoman Capito for
allowing me to speak--in fact, out of order--on the
passing of the distinguished American who was larger than
life in so many respects.
Today, we honor the life of Senator Robert Byrd. History
will reflect him as the longest serving Member Congress
has ever seen. But, of course, if it were only longevity
that we were honoring, it would simply be the hand of fate
that allowed that to happen. But what we really honor is
that Robert C. Byrd used his longevity to such
extraordinary benefit of the people he served in the State
of West Virginia, the people of this Nation, and the
legislative branch of government. I doubt that there have
been any peers to Robert C. Byrd in standing on the floor
of the U.S. Senate or of the House of Representatives or
in any forum in which he was temporarily present, that any
more strong advocacy of the equality and separateness of
the legislative branch was made clear.
Robert C. Byrd was a giant. He was a giant in terms of
character. He grew during the course of his lifetime,
which is a mark of a great man. All of us are, to some
degree, captives of the environment in which we are raised
and in which we live. Robert C. Byrd is no different. But
Robert C. Byrd grew. He grew intellectually. He grew
culturally. But he did not, in growing, leave his base. He
did not forget the values that he learned in West
Virginia--the values of courtesy; of kindness; of caring;
of helping; of making sure that the people who were not
famous, who did not have power, who did not have positions
of note were never forgotten.
Mr. Speaker, I remember an incident that I'm sure was
not unique to me. Early on in my career I went over on an
appropriation matter--like you, Mr. Speaker, as a member
of the Appropriations Committee. Senator Byrd invited me
in. He was then majority leader. He invited me into his
office. We sat down. And for the next 45 minutes--which,
as a junior Member of the House, I found extraordinary--he
regaled me on the history of the Senate and the books he
had written. I was mesmerized in the presence of this
giant of the legislative body.
At the end, as I'm sure he did to so many of us, he gave
me a rectangular painting of a covered bridge in West
Virginia. Mr. Obey is going to speak at some point in
time--and Mr. Obey has a similar painting hanging in his
office. Now it's not the original because Bob Byrd gave it
to so many of us. But I looked at that and I thought to
myself, What a kind gesture. How impressed I was, this
young Member of Congress being accorded this kind of
respect from this giant in the U.S. Senate.
Robert C. Byrd will be dearly missed by us all, and he
will be missed most of all when very difficult issues
confront the legislative body and there is a clamor that
the legislature agree with the Executive, for whatever
reasons; a clamor that all too often emanates from fear of
this, that, or the other, and that fear would ignore the
constitutional role played by the Congress of the United
States. It is then that we will miss Senator Byrd's
clarity of intellect, of conscience, of commitment to the
Constitution of the United States of America, as well as
to the rules of the U.S. Senate. He was a passionate
advocate for people, for principle, for the Constitution,
and for our country. Senator Byrd, we will miss you. But
we will remember fondly your contribution and be ever
thankful that we had the opportunity to serve with you.
Some of you remember my dog Charlotte. My dog Charlotte
was with me for 15\1/2\ years. Some of you will recall for
10 of those years Charlotte came to work with me every
day. Charlotte was an English Springer Spaniel. I planted
a tree in my yard--it's a dogwood tree--and there's a
stone and a bronze plaque for Charlotte. Charlotte was one
of the loves of my life. I lived alone with her for 10\1/
2\ years after Judy passed away.
The first call I got the day after Charlotte passed was
from Robert C. Byrd saying how sorry he was that I had
lost Charlotte. That was an indication of his humanity, of
his caring for others.
Yes, he was a great man. But he was a man who understood
the pain, the aspirations, and the hopes of all with whom
he came in contact.
Thank you, Robert C. Byrd, our good and faithful
Mrs. CAPITO. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may
consume to the gentleman from California (Mr. Lewis).
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Speaker, I very much
appreciate the gentlelady's yielding.
Robert Byrd, a colleague and associate on the
Appropriations Committee, this incredible leader in our
committee, has made such a difference over the years.
Beyond that, I quickly developed great respect for his
support of the legislative role relative to our
constitutional responsibility. And over the decades he has
fought administration after administration, Democrat and
Republican alike, whose bureaucrats want to take away
authority from the legislative branch. His voice was heard
consistently reflecting the priorities of this
institution. And for that I will never forget him.
As you have just heard from our leader, in recent years,
Senator Byrd and I developed a different kind of
friendship because of our love for our dogs. Indeed, it
was a reflection of this man, the wonderful human side of
this man, that has been the experience for me. We will--
Arlene, my dog Bruin, and I--miss Senator Byrd.
Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Speaker, it's my honor to yield such
time as he may consume to the distinguished chairman of
our House Appropriations Committee, the gentleman from
Wisconsin (Mr. Obey).
Mr. OBEY. I thank the gentleman for the time.
Mr. Speaker, for most of the last 15 years, Senator
Robert Byrd led the Senate Democrats on the Appropriations
Committee. And for roughly that same amount of time, I had
the same privilege on the House side, and I got to know
him extremely well. I loved Robert Byrd. For one thing, he
and I shared a love of bluegrass music. I daresay he was
the finest fiddler in the history of the Congress, but
that's not the real reason that I hold him in such high
He began as a product of a segregated background, but
through sheer intense pursuit of knowledge, understanding,
and wisdom, he became a person who is a powerful
representative for the cause of equal opportunity for
everyone. I can think of no one in the history of the
Senate who demonstrated a greater capacity for personal
growth than did Robert Byrd. He was truly unmatched in his
recognition of our obligation to the Constitution and to
the institution of the Congress itself.
And the greatest thing about him, in addition to his
dedication, was, simply put, he had guts; and he wasn't
afraid to demonstrate that on many occasions when the
Nation needed to see it demonstrated. He made the point
that he never served under any President. He served with
many, honorably and with distinction. They really don't
make them like him anymore.
Mrs. CAPITO. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I
I rise today to thank my colleague from West Virginia's
Third Congressional District (Mr. Rahall) for offering
this resolution, honoring the passing of our senior
Senator, Senator Robert C. Byrd. I want to thank the
Speaker, my other colleague from West Virginia, for his
dedication and friendship to Senator Byrd through many
more years than I have served here in this Congress. As
the three of us know, this is a difficult time for all
West Virginians and the U.S. Senate.
As my colleagues know, Senator Byrd was an institution
not only in West Virginia but also in the U.S. Senate.
Coming from very modest beginnings, the young man from
rural Raleigh County, West Virginia, rose from the
mountains of Appalachia to become a lion in the greatest
deliberative body on Earth, the U.S. Senate. His path to
success is truly emblematic of the American dream.
Few can travel through our great State of West Virginia
without recognizing the effect Senator Byrd had on our
State. While he is well recognized for the many roads and
buildings that are named in his honor, it is the
leadership he displayed in bringing our delegation
together when it mattered most for West Virginia that is
truly a testament to the effect he has had on our State.
During my tenure--which for him was recent, 10 years--he
rallied our delegation to save the 130th Air National
Guard unit from being cut, and he began working with all
of us toward a consensus on mine safety legislation after
the tragic Sago mine incident. He was an able leader and
led us all as leaders for West Virginia.
Senator Byrd was also a wonderful ambassador for
Appalachia. West Virginians are very proud of our heritage
and our strong work ethic throughout our lives, and
Senator Byrd continued to share Appalachian culture--we
just heard from Mr. Obey on that--with his colleagues in
Washington. Whether it was displaying his musical talents
on the fiddle or his dedication to both American and world
history or the process of the U.S. Senate or the
protection of our Constitution, Senator Byrd was truly a
man of many talents.
I will fondly remember, as I was attending a meeting in
Charleston, West Virginia, probably 12 years ago--I knew
about his fiddling, but I didn't know about his love of
music and his vocal ability--when he joined Kathy Mattea
in singing a duet of ``Amazing Grace.'' It was a great
moment for me, but for him, he was celebrating his three
loves: his music, his love of education, and his faith in
I also remember--and the other members of the delegation
will remember this, too--we were in his office, and he
served us lunch in his office. And when it came time for
dessert, he asked all of us if we wanted dessert. And
since we were all watching our waistlines, we sort of
waived off dessert and said, ``No, we really don't need
dessert. It's lunch. I think we are going to pass on
``No, no. We must have dessert. We must have apple pie
and ice cream.''
And then he proudly told us how he had maintained the
same weight for the last 57 years in the U.S. Congress. I
think that's a feat to be celebrated, quite frankly.
He also talked a lot about--and we heard this, too--the
love of his dogs. I remember when his beloved Billy died.
He was crushed, and he wasn't afraid or ashamed or
embarrassed to express the love and the compassion that he
had and the companionship he felt with his dog. And I
think that's a common bond that a lot of people here in
the United States, but also in West Virginia, share.
So with Senator Byrd's passing, West Virginia has truly
lost a favorite son. The U.S. Senate has lost an icon. And
as any Senator will tell you, Senator Byrd served as a
tremendous mentor in passing on Senate procedure to newly
elected Senators. In many ways, Senator Byrd was an
institution within the institution of the Senate, and the
Senate will not be the same without him.
I will miss Senator Byrd's passion and ardent defense of
our Nation's Constitution. He was certainly one of a kind,
and I feel privileged to have served with him. I will
never forget the advice that he gave me when I first
sought his counsel when I first went in, in my first year
serving in this body. And he said, ``Shelley, you need to
be a workhorse, not a show horse.'' Senator Byrd will
always be remembered for his hard work as a workhorse and
also for his dedication to representing our great State of
I wish to extend to Senator Byrd's family my deepest
sympathies and know that he is at peace and at home with
his beloved Erma.
So I would again thank Mr. Rahall for presenting this.
Senator Byrd will certainly be missed. And I want to pay
tribute to his tremendous service, sacrifice, strength,
honesty, and devotion to our State and Nation.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to yield 2 minutes
to the gentleman from Washington, Mr. Norm Dicks, the
distinguished chairman of our Defense Subcommittee on
Appropriations and a classmate of mine.
Mr. DICKS. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
I had the great honor of serving in the other body for 8
years as an assistant to Senator Warren G. Magnuson. And
during that time, Senator Byrd became the whip in the
Senate. I can remember how he was faithfully writing notes
every couple of days to Senator Magnuson, ``I put this in
the Record for you.'' He was absolutely committed to the
U.S. Senate, and he was a forceful advocate.
I have served, as Chairman Obey has, in many conferences
with Senator Byrd. And when there was something that he
wanted--and oftentimes to protect the workers of West
Virginia on coal mining issues--the Congress responded
because he was such a forceful advocate.
And one of the things I respected most about Senator
Byrd was his knowledge of the history of the Senate, the
history of the Congress, and his devotion to that history.
He would oftentimes talk about historic events and tie
them in to current days.
Some people may have criticized him on spending issues,
but he used to say, and I always used to quote him on
this, the Congress can't give up the power of the purse
because the power of the purse is in the Constitution; and
it's part of the Constitution of the United States, a
right that was earned in England when the people of
England rose up against kings and demanded that Parliament
have the power of deciding how the money was to be spent.
And as has been said by many here, he served with many
Presidents, but he was not cowed by the Presidency, and he
would stand up on the floor of the Senate many times and
talk about different wars, different situations we were
in, and demand that the Executive appreciate the power of
the Congress and respect the power of the Congress. And he
served--I think he was elected nine full terms. That's a
record that I doubt will ever be matched.
He also went to law school during his time in the
Senate. Now, how many people could do that? I mean, it
just was remarkable. And I think President Kennedy gave
him his degree from American University just a few months
before he was, unfortunately, tragically assassinated in
Robert Byrd is a legendary figure. In my time here in
the Congress I had the great fortune of serving on the
Appropriations Committee for 34 years. But I served with
Senator Magnuson, who became chairman of the
Appropriations Committee. Senator Byrd was there
throughout that entire time and a lot more.
And I just rise today in respect for him, his legacy,
his commitment to the Congress. He had a wonderful family,
and I'm sure that they're going to miss him. But they
have, I think, the satisfaction of knowing that Robert
Byrd did a great job, a fantastic job for the State of
West Virginia, but also was a great Senator in a national
And so I just want to say to my colleague and classmate
from West Virginia, who I know served on Senator Byrd's
staff, and it was a great learning experience that you had
in the other body, as I did. And I think it helped to
prepare us for work here in the House of Representatives.
So I just would say again that we have lost a great
American, a man of tremendous courage and commitment, and
someone we respected, and his legacy and memory will live
long in the history of the United States of America and in
Mrs. CAPITO. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for
time, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the
gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. Kaptur), a member of the
Appropriations Committee as well.
Ms. KAPTUR. I thank the distinguished dean of the
delegation for yielding to me. And with Speaker Mollohan
in the chair this evening, the people of the Buckeye State
of Ohio extend our deepest sympathies to the State of West
Virginia, to the Byrd family, to all of the staff that
served this truly remarkable human being and American,
Senator Robert Byrd.
There's a great piece of music called Fanfare for the
Common Man by Aaron Copeland, and as I'm saying these
words this evening, I think of that music and of Senator
Byrd's remarkable life. He truly was a wise man of the
legislative branch who belonged to the American people. He
gave his life to us. His road had been a hardscrabble one
from the very beginning. He's the kind of American that
walked a tough road, who when he came here to serve, he
never forgot the people who came from backgrounds like
I had the great joy of serving with him on the
Appropriations Committee. Being one of the few women that
have ever served on that committee, when I arrived there
in the 1990s, I can remember him sitting across from me at
a conference committee, kind of looking over his glasses
with a glint in his eye at this woman who was a bit
younger than he was. He exhibited a great sense of welcome
with also some surprise that indeed history in America was
I respected and liked him so very, very much. And I
appreciated his kindness to me. He loved history. I hold
in my possession an autographed copy from him of The
Senate of the Roman Republic: Addresses on the History of
I loved speaking with him. I loved being on a program
with him a few years ago with Leo Gerard, president of the
Steelworkers, and listening to Senator Byrd deliver an
impassioned speech about the American worker. He was such
an exemplary representative for the working men and women
of this country.
His intellect, his humor, his knowledge of the rules and
history, his love of this institution and respect for it,
and his passion, his passion on every issue that he
handled. He had so much to teach all of us.
I happen to be a Democrat. He was a real Democrat. He
set the pointer on a compass and that needle to represent
He was a gentleman, he was civil, he was enlightened, he
worked so hard. I can remember his telling a story about
working on the railroads as a young man. That hard work
and that sense of honor he carried with him through his
entire service of over half a century to the people of our
I will end with saying, as I think of Fanfare for the
Common Man, that the enormous courage that he displayed in
the last years of his life is a lesson to us all. He
continued to serve, despite illness, despite difficulty,
his doggedness, his determination--he truly was a heroic
American. I personally shall miss him very, very much.
I thank the people of the State of West Virginia for
continuing to send him to this Congress. He made us all
better by serving with him. He built a better and more
humane America. He was loved by this membership. We wish
him Godspeed, and eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.
I thank the gentleman from West Virginia for allowing me
this time tonight to pay tribute to a great and good man
and Senator for the ages. In knowing him, we have walked
with history, and are grateful.
Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Speaker, it is now my deep honor to
yield to a close personal friend and fellow member of our
congressional delegation from West Virginia, Mr. Alan
Mollohan. Mr. Mollohan chairs the Appropriations
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related
Agencies. He has served on many conferences with the late
Senator Byrd as well. Senator Byrd often said he had two
sons, and that would be Alan and myself.
I'm very honored to yield such time as he may consume to
Mr. MOLLOHAN. I thank my friend and colleague from West
Virginia for yielding. We have many tender memories of the
Mr. Speaker, it was with profound sadness that I learned
yesterday of the passing of Senator Robert C. Byrd. This
country knew Senator Byrd as one of the lions of the
Senate, a ferocious advocate for his State and a
principled spokesman for his beliefs, whether it was his
opposition to the war in Iraq or his commitment to improve
safety and working conditions in the coalfields of West
This Congress, both sides of the Capitol, knew Robert C.
Byrd as the chief defender of its constitutional
prerogatives, an unequaled master of its parliamentary
rules, an expert on its history, and one of the ablest
legislative tacticians either Chamber has ever seen.
West Virginia knew Senator Robert C. Byrd as her own.
It's difficult to adequately describe the bond of profound
connection between the man and the State. People from
outside the State might assume that this connection was
built on the Senator's legendary success in delivering
Federal funds to West Virginia, and that would be wrong.
West Virginians understand how important that success
was, of course. We know that those material contributions
are literally incalculable in dollars invested, roads
paved, buildings constructed, and jobs created. But the
bond between Senator Byrd and West Virginia went far
beyond that. It is almost as though his personal story not
only inspired West Virginians, as it would most Americans,
but that it captured so much of our State's culture and
our State's values. That personal history is known
throughout the State.
Senator Byrd, the adopted son of a miner, graduated as
class valedictorian. He was the manual worker who earned a
law degree while serving in the U.S. Senate. He was the
husband who relied for almost 70 years on his beloved wife
Erma. Those qualities of discipline, of integrity, and
commitment forged in the mountains of West Virginia and
exercised in the Halls of Washington speak more strongly
to West Virginians than any material measure of his
immense contributions to the State.
I cannot imagine Robert C. Byrd representing any State
other than West Virginia, and it is difficult to imagine
West Virginia without Senator Byrd.
I knew Senator Byrd as a mentor. I was first elected to
Congress in 1983. After 28 years, I like to think of
myself as a reasonably seasoned veteran of this body. But
then I remind myself, before I took my first oath of
office, Senator Byrd had already served more years than I
have today. Twenty-eight years ago he was already a master
of the legislative branch.
From my very first days in this House, Senator Byrd
never withheld his support or his counsel. I can remember
many times Senator Byrd calling Congressman Rahall and
myself over to his office just to consult, to ask what was
going on in West Virginia, or to take counsel himself on
what was going on in the House of Representatives, or just
to find out what was going on in our personal lives, how
our parents were, how our fathers were, how our mothers
were. Those were touching moments.
Senator Byrd, many people have asked me, what is Senator
Byrd really like? He is such a disciplined person in
public. People want to know, what is he like in private?
And I think there are several insights that we have had
glimpses of in previous speakers here this afternoon into
what he was like as a man beyond a legislator. I can
remember his being very touching and very concerned about
his dog Billy, and bringing him to the Congress, or if he
were home, worrying about how he was getting along. Very
concerned and obviously loving toward a pet.
But most poignant was Senator Byrd's relationship with
his wife Erma. It was long. She was his childhood
sweetheart. Senator Byrd used to tell the story about
courting Erma with another young man's candy. The young
man would come to school, and Senator Byrd and he would
catch up, and the young man would give Senator Byrd a
piece of candy. And Senator Byrd wouldn't eat that candy;
he would save it and give it to his future wife, his
sweetheart, Erma. That relationship lasted and grew and
was warm and inspiring throughout his life. And her
passing a number of years ago was a very sad time in the
life of Senator Byrd, obviously. It was also a very sad
time in the State of West Virginia. They were a couple
beloved by West Virginia.
I remember another touching moment, when my father
passed almost 10 years ago. Senator Byrd attended the
funeral and continued on after the service for about an
hour's drive to where Dad was interred. And Senator Byrd
after the service, he pulled me aside and told me what a
lovely cemetery this was for Dad's resting place.
Finally, I knew Senator Byrd as a friend. I cannot
remember a time when he was not in my life. And I will
miss my friend. My wife, Barbara, and I offer our deepest
condolences and our best wishes to Senator Byrd's family,
to his staff, and to that close, wonderful circle of
people who knew him and loved him.
Mr. RAHALL. How much time do I have remaining, Mr.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Dicks). The gentleman has
14\1/2\ minutes remaining.
Mr. RAHALL. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, the gates of heaven opened wide early
yesterday morning. West Virginia lost a faithful son, the
Senate lost a father's watchful eye, and I lost my mentor
and close friend.
I extend my prayers and thoughts to Senator Byrd's
daughters, to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren,
to all his family, and to his staff, especially many of
whom have been with him for so long. Sadly but surely, we
will not see the likes of Robert C. Byrd pass our way
He came from humble beginnings. A virtual orphan, he was
sent to be reared in the coalfields of our beloved State
of West Virginia, enduring the depths of the Great
Depression. But he was wealthy beyond belief with richness
of values, all instilled in him by his adoptive parents.
A self-taught butcher, a welder, a Sunday school
teacher, a student, a self-disciplined scholar with
straight A's with 21 credit hours in his first semester of
college, a young man still, he wanted to serve. Armed with
little more than determination and a fiddle, he
successfully entered politics. ``Byrd by name, Byrd by
nature, let's send Byrd to the legislature.'' How often he
would fiddle that with a tin cup at the end of his fiddle,
raising his first campaign funds. I recall, because my
late father was the treasurer for those early campaigns of
Thus began what would become an unprecedented
legislative service. Marshaling sharp focus, unwavering
diligence, and old-fashioned hard work, he rose to
remarkable heights of rank and responsibility to serve the
Lord, and to serve our State and our Nation as well. Yet
Senator Byrd always remained true to his own essential
nature. He never got above his raisin'.
He could mix with kings and queens and Presidents, and
while doing that he never forgot from whence he came, and
he always remained deeply proud of his roots. He often
remarked he would just as soon be eatin' beans and
cornbread and onions and sippin' buttermilk in the hills
and hollers of West Virginia as having lavish dinners with
kings and queens around the world.
I recall working for him in the Senate Democratic
Cloakroom in 1972. During that time, a young man from
Delaware by the name of Joe Biden was elected to the U.S.
Senate. Within a month or two after Senator-elect Joe
Biden's ascension to the U.S. Senate, he lost his first
wife in a tragic car wreck. Senator Byrd turned to me and
said, ``Nick, do you mind if we take a drive up to
Wilmington, Delaware, so that we can pay our respects to
Senator Biden's wife?'' I said, ``Sure.''
I drove the car. It was a cold, rainy night, late
November 1972. We arrived in Wilmington. We arrived at the
funeral home to face a long, winding line that was waiting
out in the rain to pay their respects. Senator Biden heard
we were in that line and sent word out he wanted us to
come up and immediately get up front and come inside where
it was warm. Senator Byrd said, no, he would not use his
office, he would not use his prestige or power to jump in
front of anybody already in line in front of him. So we
stood in that cold rain, waiting to pay our respects to
Senator-elect, at that time, Joe Biden's first wife.
The only individual to serve in both houses of the West
Virginia Legislature and the U.S. Congress, Senator Byrd
also achieved the distinction of holding more elective
leadership offices in the U.S. Senate than anyone in the
body's history. His Senate service is the body's longest.
Combined with his tenure in the House, Senator Byrd
holds the distinction of serving in Congress longer than
anyone else. His achievements and his unrivaled archive of
accomplishments were the result of one sole purpose, to
serve others. And he never tired of trying to find ways to
help a little more, to do a little better.
Striving for the next rung was, for Senator Byrd, a
lifelong pursuit. He was forever setting goals. And he
challenged himself, his staff, his colleagues, all of us
to meet or exceed those goals.
And you know one other remarkable feature about Robert
C. Byrd. He made political contests, as bitter as they may
seem at the time, the foundation for future and lasting
friendships. Recall, for example, as I know the gentleman
in the chair, Mr. Dicks, can recall very well, Senator
Byrd's one-vote victory over the late Senator from
Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy, whose son Patrick was just
here on the floor.
Perhaps many considered that a bitter contest. But what
did Senator Byrd use it for? To establish a lasting and
true friendship with Senator Ted Kennedy from
Massachusetts, as we all know who passed shortly before
Senator Byrd, and for whom Senator Byrd had nothing but
the utmost and kindest words of praise, and truly defined
a friendship that perhaps has not been in American
politics for some time.
This was a defining quality and a wellspring of
immeasurable joy that irrigated ever greater horizons for
Senator Byrd. His penchant for setting records and then
breaking his own was the inevitable result, but
ultimately, we are the ones who reaped the greatest
In his later years, when anyone questioned age as
somehow detrimental to service, Senator Byrd reveled in
ticking off the names and ages of the ancients in the Old
Testament and their continued service to the Lord: Moses
was 120, Senator Byrd would say; Noah lived to be 960;
Methuselah at 969 years old; and he would call out, While
I am but a spry 85.
At 92, with the longest record of service in Congress
well established, Senator Byrd enjoyed public service so
much that it is possible he also had the longest, happiest
life on record. If only we could have captured the
energies produced by his immense job satisfaction. If only
we could package them and share them with others.
Senator Byrd was cautious about the use of superlatives.
He felt they were tossed around too casually, and although
I do not doubt that he is now grimacing a bit at me for
saying this, the fact is it is just not possible to speak
about Senator Byrd without using superlatives: longest
serving, hardest working, most revered, best loved. And
the list goes on and on. Yes, he was passionate about
people. He was passionate about politics. He was caring.
He was all concerned about the lives of all of us in West
As we all know, we go through personal trials and
tribulations in our family--the loss of a loved one,
sibling problems, loss of a job. Senator Byrd, when he was
physically able, would so surprisingly show up in West
Virginia offering that comforting arm around the shoulder
and always telling those afflicted with tragedy to keep
the faith in God, to don't let them get you down, keep
plugging along. Senator Byrd himself, who never had a bad
word to say about anybody despite some of the words that
were said about him, was forever the true gentleman.
Many in this body had their own personal remembrances of
Senator Byrd. He touched so many of us, encouraged us,
taught us, even argued with us. And I can recall the last
time perhaps, except for the miners' memorial that he
attended this past April in honor of our 29 fallen coal
miners, the time before that he was probably in his home
area of Raleigh County, Beckley, West Virginia, was a
dinner in which he was a surprise guest that honored yours
truly. And my wife, Melinda, and I fixed up our house, and
my wife even set up the ``big daddy suite'' in our home in
West Virginia. That big daddy suite is still there
waiting, as it always was, for Senator Byrd to pay a
We are all better for the life of Senator Robert Byrd.
We owe him generous helpings of gratitude and admiration,
and we shall all miss him.
Again, to Senator Byrd's family, we offer our prayers,
our never-ending thanks for the fact that they shared
Senator Byrd's extraordinary life with a grateful State
and a grateful Nation.
Now, our former senior Senator, our late senior Senator
is indeed with his beloved wife, Erma, who was always a
twinkle in his eye. For almost 69 years, they were married
before her passing some 4 years ago. The Senator is with
his beloved Erma, smiling down upon all of us.
We say thank you, Senator Byrd. Thank you for all you've
given our great State. Thank you for all you have given
our Nation, because we shall miss you.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. Madam Speaker, I was detained
when my colleagues were on the floor of the House paying
tribute to Senator Byrd and did not want this time to go
without acknowledging my deep sympathy to his family and
to my good friend from West Virginia and to acknowledge
how special this man was to the institution we call
Congress and to the freedom that this Nation stands for.
I cannot account for my personal encounters with Senator
Byrd, but I can tell you, as someone who respects and
loves this institution, what a man he was who understood
that the Constitution and rules were not for selfish
reasons, but to empower people.
He had no qualms in standing up against Presidential
authority that was wrong in the Iraq war. He had no qualms
in fighting to ensure that resources came to his great
State. He loved the institution. He was a holder of
knowledge, and what we will lose with his passing is that
special sensitivity to the rules and to the responsibility
we have to not play politics with this institution. We are
here to serve America, and Senator Byrd did serve America.
May God rest his soul and may he rest in peace. Senator
Byrd, we will miss you.
Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, it is
with the utmost respect and admiration for the late
Senator Robert Carlyle Byrd that I recognize his passing.
Senator Byrd was known as a man of the people. He
dedicated his life's work to the American citizens and his
beloved constituency in the Mountain State of West
Born November 20, 1917, in North Wilkesboro, North
Carolina, the young Byrd moved in with family in West
Virginia where he grew up and would later meet his soon-
to-be wife, Erma Ora James. Their marriage spanned more
than six decades until her death in 2006. Initially, he
was unable to afford college, but eventually attended
Beckley College, Concord College, Morris Harvey College,
and Marshall College, all in West Virginia. Senator Byrd's
public service career began after he won a seat in the
West Virginia House of Delegates in 1946. Six years later,
he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. It
was during this time he began night classes at American
University's Washington College of Law in 1953. With a
tenacious spirit and made-up mind, he would earn his law
degree some 10 years later in 1963.
Along the course of his professional and academic
career, Robert Byrd was elected to the U.S. Senate and
would serve 51 years making him the longest serving
Senator in history. His time in office was well spent and
fruitful where he would serve in a myriad of leadership
roles. Most notably: President pro tempore of the U.S.
Senate; Democratic Caucus Senate majority leader; Senate
minority leader; and chairman of the Senate Committee on
Senator Byrd, like many of us, lived a full life filled
with high peaks and low valleys. I too, had some
reservations about meeting this one-time member of the Ku
Klux Klan who for 14 hours filibustered the Civil Rights
Act of 1964. But, when our paths crossed, I soon learned
of the great character of man he truly was. He believed
wholeheartedly in the U.S. Constitution and a clear
demonstration was the pocket version he always carried in
his coat pocket. Another love he had was taking afternoon
walks on the west front side of the Capitol. It was where
I knew I could find him whenever I needed to seek the
voice of wisdom.
I will miss those afternoon strolls with the historian
of the Senate. Senator Byrd loved the American people,
loved his State, and loved our great Nation. Although he
no longer is with us on the terrestrial, his legacy will
live deeply within the Halls of Congress and in the hearts
Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize and honor the
memory of U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia.
Born in West Virginia, I have known Senator Byrd my
whole life. Senator Byrd faithfully served West Virginia
in Congress for more than 57 years. Throughout his career
in the House and the Senate, he improved the lives and
welfare of the people of West Virginia for whom he cared
so much. He worked endlessly to fight for democratic
principles, defend the Constitution, and ensure that the
American dream was in reach for all families.
Senator Byrd grew up in the southern coalfields of West
Virginia, first working as a gas station attendant and
then in a local food market. He started his political
career in the West Virginia House of Delegates, serving
from 1947 to 1950, followed by 2 years in the West
Virginia Senate. After being elected to the U.S. House of
Representatives in 1952, he enrolled in law school night
classes despite not having a bachelor's degree. In 1958,
West Virginia elected him to the U.S. Senate where he
became its longest serving Member.
Senator Byrd was an energetic defender of the U.S.
Senate as an institution, persistently seeking to preserve
its dignity and traditions. He literally wrote the book on
the Senate--a four-volume history of the institution that
is a treasure. To read his books and to read his speeches
is to see Senator Byrd as a self-taught great orator and
historian, someone who could readily quote from
Shakespeare, Greek tragedies, and the King James Bible.
I will always remember him for his extraordinary
devotion and service to the people of West Virginia. He
paid exceptional attention to his constituents and their
individual concerns. Staff members told me that at night
they would receive calls at home from the Senator,
quizzing them on people who had signed his guestbook that
day and asking how he could help them. He would recognize
people in a crowd and ask them if his constituent service
to them years before took care of their problem.
My thoughts and condolences go out to his daughters, his
family, and all of his friends and neighbors in West
Virginia. Senator Byrd dedicated every day of his service
in the U.S. Congress to strengthening the institution and
the country that he loved so deeply.
He will be greatly missed. May he rest in peace with his
beloved wife Erma.
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Madam Speaker, I move that
the House do now adjourn.
The motion was agreed to; accordingly (at 8 o'clock and
31 minutes p.m.), pursuant to House Resolution 1484, the
House adjourned until tomorrow, Wednesday, June 30, 2010,
at 10 a.m., as a further mark of respect to the memory of
the late Honorable Robert C. Byrd.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
PROVIDING FOR THE USE OF THE CAPITOL VISITOR CENTER
Mr. BOCCIERI. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to
take from the Speaker's table the concurrent resolution
(S. Con. Res. 65) providing for the use of the catafalque
situated in the Exhibition Hall of the Capitol Visitor
Center in connection with memorial services to be
conducted in the U.S. Senate Chamber for the Honorable
Robert C. Byrd, late a Senator from the State of West
Virginia, and ask for its immediate consideration in the
The Clerk read the title of the concurrent resolution.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Pastor of Arizona). Is
there objection to the request of the gentleman from Ohio?
There was no objection.
The text of the concurrent resolution is as follows:
S. Con. Res. 65
Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives
concurring), That the Architect of the Capitol is
authorized and directed to transfer the catafalque which
is situated in the Exhibition Hall of the Capitol Visitor
Center to the Senate Chamber so that such catafalque may
be used in connection with services to be conducted there
for the Honorable Robert C. Byrd, late a Senator from the
State of West Virginia.
The concurrent resolution was agreed to.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.
Mr. GOHMERT. ... We lost a Senator this week. My time is
running short, so I want to get through as much of this
incredible speech as I can. I want it understood this was
a speech given by Senator Robert Byrd, in 1962, after the
Supreme Court decision to eliminate prayer in schools.
This is from the official Record. As time will permit, I
will read Senator Robert Byrd's speech from 1962.
You know, one of the things I love about America is, for
the most part, it is a very forgiving country. A man who
had been part of the Ku Klux Klan later was repentant. He
was very sorry for being part of that organization, and he
changed his ways and was completely embraced by his
colleagues. This is Senator Byrd's speech from 1962:
Mr. President, Thomas Jefferson expressed the will of
the American majority in 1776 when he included in the
Declaration of Independence the statement that ``all men
are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness.''
Little could Mr. Jefferson suspect, when penned that
line, that the time would come when the Nation's highest
court would rule that a nondenominational prayer to the
Creator, if offered by schoolchildren in the public
schools of America during class periods, is
The June 25 Supreme Court decision is sufficiently
appalling to disturb the God-fearing people of America and
to make us all reflect upon the extraordinary nature of
the times. For what, indeed, can we expect to happen next
if this is to be the way things are going? Following the
French Revolution, the atheist revolutionists hired a
chorus girl to enter a church as the ``Goddess of Reason''
and thereby defile the name of the Almighty. Following the
Russian Revolution, the Bolshevik Government established a
giant museum, dedicated to the promotion of atheistic
I've been in that museum. I was sick to the point of
nausea, but back to Robert Byrd's speech.
The American people were shocked by both moves. So it
was in those days. But what about today? Can it be that
we, too, are ready now to embrace the foul conception of
It is hard to believe, but, then, what are the facts of
the matter? Are we not in consequence of the Supreme Court
ruling on schoolroom prayer, actually limited in teaching
our children the value of God? And is this not, in fact, a
first step on the road to promoting atheistic belief?
As I turn the page of Mr. Byrd's speech on the Senate
floor, let me parenthetically note that Robert Byrd's
Christian beliefs are what caused him to disavow his
membership and to ask forgiveness for his membership to
the KKK. It went to the heart and soul of the man, and
that is why he came to the floor in 1962 and gave this
speech. Continuing on:
In reading through the Court decision on school prayer,
I am astonished by the empty arguments set forth by the
majority as opposed to the lucid opinion recorded by Mr.
Justice Potter Stewart, the lone dissenter. In answering
the arguments of the majority, Justice Stewart did not see
fit to engage in debate over matters of ancient history.
As he put it:
What is relevant to the issue here is not the
history of an established church in 16th century
England or in 18th century America but the history
of the religious traditions of our people, reflected
in countless practices of the institutions and
officials of our government.
To that, I would say, ``Amen.''
So this, indeed, the crux of the issue--the religious
traditions of our people.
Wherever one may go in this great national city, he is
constantly reminded of the strong spiritual awareness of
our forefathers who wrote the Federal Constitution, who
built the schools and churches, who hewed the forests,
dredged the rivers and the harbors, fought the savages,
and created a republic.
In no other place in the United States are there so many
and such varied official evidences of deep and abiding
faith in God on the part of government as there are in
Let us speak briefly on some of the reminders in
Washington that reaffirm the proposition that our country
is founded on religious principles. The continuance of
freedom depends on our restoring the same spiritual
consciousness to the mainstream of American life today
that made possible these monuments and tributes of the
A visitor entering Washington by train sees the words of
Christ prominently inscribed above the main arch leading
into Union Station. Here at the very entrance to the seat
of the Government of the United States are the words:
``The truth shall make you free.'' John 8:32.
Nearby is another inscription cut into enduring stone,
the words from the Eighth Psalm of the Old Testament:
``Thou hast put all things under his feet.''
A third inscription reiterates the spiritual theme:
``Let all the end thou aimest at be thy country's, thy
God's and truth's.''
All three inscriptions acknowledge the dependence of our
Republic upon the guiding hand of Almighty God.
On Capitol Hill
Throughout the majestic Capital City, similar
inscriptions testify to the religious faith of our
forefathers. In the capital, we find prominently displayed
for all of us to see the quotation from the book of
Proverbs, 4:7: ``Wisdom is the principal thing: Therefore,
get wisdom, and with all thy getting, get understanding.''
The visitor to the Library of Congress may see a
quotation from the Old Testament which reminds each
American of his responsibility to his Maker. It reads,
``What doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly and
love mercy and to walk humbly with God?'' Micah 6:8.
Another scriptural quotation prominently displayed in
the lawmakers' library preserves the Psalmist's
acknowledgment that all nature reflects the order and
beauty of the Creator. ``The heavens declare the glory of
God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork.'' Psalms
Underneath the Statue of History in the Library of
Congress are Tennyson's prophetic lines: ``One God, one
law, one element, and one far-off divine event to which
the whole creation moves.''
Additional proof that American national life is God-
centered comes from this Library of Congress inscription:
``The light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness
comprehendeth not.'' John 1:5.
On the east hall of the second floor of the Library of
Congress, an anonymous inscription assures all Americans
that they do not work alone--``for a web begun, God sends
I realize that my time is expiring at this moment,
although there is much, much more in this wonderful speech
by the now late Senator Robert Byrd.
Death of Senator Robert C. Byrd, President Pro Tempore of
By the President of the United States of America
As a mark of respect for the memory and longstanding
service of Senator Robert C. Byrd, President pro tempore
of the Senate, I hereby order, by the authority vested in
me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States
of America, that the flag of the United States shall be
flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public
buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval
stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal
Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the
United States and its Territories and possessions until
sunset on the day of his interment. I further direct that
the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same period
at all United States embassies, legations, consular
offices, and other facilities abroad, including all
military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
I also direct, that in honor and tribute to this great
patriot, that the flag of the United States shall be
displayed at full-staff at the White House and on all
public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and
Naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal
Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the
United States and its Territories and possessions on
Independence Day, July 4, 2010. I further direct that on
that same date, that the flag of the United States shall
be flown at full-staff at all United States embassies,
legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad,
including all military facilities and naval vessels and
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
thirtieth day of June, in the year of our Lord two
thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States
of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.
Robert C. Byrd
November 20, 1917-June 28, 2010
United States Senator
In Final Tribute from a Grateful Nation
The Lying in Repose of Senator Byrd
The Senate, United States Capitol
July 1, 2010
Dr. Barry C. Black. Let us pray.
God our refuge and strength, close at hand in distress
and giver of all comforts, we thank You for giving us the
gift of Senator Robert Carlyle Byrd.
Lord, we appreciate his wit and wisdom, his stories and
music, as well as his indefatigable commitment to the
principles of freedom that make America great.
Thank You for blessing us with his passion for history
and his willingness to challenge conventional wisdom in
his quest to keep our Nation strong.
Deal graciously with all who mourn, that, casting every
care on You we may know the consolation of Your love.
Lord, comfort Mona and Marjorie and all of Senator
Byrd's loved ones, dispelling their fears with Your love,
easing their loneliness with Your presence, and renewing
their hopes with Your promises.
In Your mercy turn the darkness of death into the dawn
of new life, and the sorrow of parting into the joy of
We pray in Your holy name. Amen.
Memorial Service in Celebration of the Life of U.S.
Senator Robert C. Byrd
Friday, July 2, 2010
*PROCESSIONAL West Virginia National Guard Honor Cordon
*PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE Led by President of the West Virginia Senate, Earl Ray Tomblin and
Speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates, Richard Thompson
*THE NATIONAL ANTHEM 249th Army Band (West Virginia National Guard), CW4 Thomas A. Goff,
*LAYING OF THE WREATH Great-Granddaughters of Senator Byrd: Emma James Clarkson and Kathryn
*INVOCATION Bishop William Boyd Grove, Former Bishop for the West Virginia Episcopal
Area of the United Methodist Church
WELCOME AND TRIBUTE Governor Joe Manchin III
TRIBUTES FROM FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader
............................................ Victoria Kennedy, Wife of the Late U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy
............................................ U.S. Senator John D. Rockefeller IV
............................................ Congressman Nick Joe Rahall for the Congressional Delegation
............................................ Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of
............................................ U.S. Senator Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader
``Never Grow Old'' Martin Luther King, Jr. Male Chorus, Marshall Murray, Director
INTRODUCTIONS Governor Joe Manchin III
TRIBUTE William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America TRIBUTE Joe Biden, Vice President of the United States of America EULOGY Barack Obama, President of the United States of America ``Amazing Grace'' Pipe Major Mark Burdette, Kanawha Valley Pipes and Drums *BENEDICTION The Reverend James L. Patterson, President, Partnership for African
American Churches *21 GUN SALUTE AND TAPS I-201st Field Artillery and 249th Army Band *RECESSIONAL--``Country Roads'' Kanawha Tradition, the 249th Army Band, and Everyone Singing *Please rise .........................................................................
Sign Language Interpreters for the Deaf and Hard of
Hearing, Donna Whittington and Connie Pitman
Take Me Home, Country Roads
By: John Denver
Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge mountains, Shenandoah River.
Life is old there, older than the trees,
Younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze.
Country roads, take me home,
To the place where I belong,
West Virginia, mountain mama.
Take me home, country roads.
All my mem'ries gather 'round her,
Miner's lady, stranger to blue waters.
Dark and dusty painted on the sky,
Misty taste of moonshine, teardrops in my eye.
Country roads, take me home,
To the place where I belong,
West Virginia, mountain mama.
Take me home, country roads.
I hear her voice, in the mornin' hours she calls me
The radio reminds me of my home far away.
Driving down the road I get a feeling
That I should have been home yesterday,
Country roads, take me home,
To the place where I belong,
West Virginia, mountain mama.
Take me home, country roads.
Country roads, take me home,
To the place where I belong,
West Virginia, mountain mama.
Take me home, country roads.
From: Poems, Prayers and Promises (1971)
Invocation--Bishop William Boyd Grove, former Bishop for
the West Virginia Episcopal Area of the United Methodist
O Holy One, loving God, we cry out to You today in our
sadness and loss.
Our mountains weep today, and our rivers run salty
with the tears.
Our Senator, our advocate, our brother and our friend
has left us
To be with Erma and with You.
But through our tears, we smile
As this beautiful day smiles upon the grieving
mountains and the rivers
Of West Virginia.
We need not tell You his story as we pray.
You know the story, it is Your story.
You are its author, its beginning and its ending.
We simply thank You for the gift of Robert C. Byrd,
Who loved You with all his heart and mind and soul and
And who loved his neighbor as himself.
His neighbors were the people of West Virginia, his
And the people of the world.
The neighbors that he loved were all the people
Of every race and language and station in life.
We thank You that beneath the Constitution in his
In his heart was Your Word, in which he believed, and
which he followed;
Which enabled him to change his mind, and to change
And to learn and grow from the moment of his birth
until the day of his death.
So, we pray, receive our thanksgiving, and comfort our
As we thank You for the life and the gift of our
Senator, and our friend.
In Your Holy Name we pray. Amen.
West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III. While we mourn the
loss of our son of West Virginia, today we come together
to celebrate the outstanding life of a man, the likes of
whom we shall never see again.
In one of the five books that Senator Byrd authored he
said: ``We must study the great figures of our history and
carry them forward in our imaginations as living,
breathing presences we can in effect consult on vital
issues of the day.''
Without question, Senator Robert C. Byrd is a pillar in
our Nation's history. His leadership and influence have
stretched well beyond the borders of the Mountain State.
My first memory of Senator Byrd was as a young boy
working in the back of my grandfather's grocery store in
the small coal mining town of Farmington, West Virginia,
and hearing Bible Scripture being quoted from great
orators--my grandfather, Papa Joe, and Robert C Byrd. Both
held the same great occupation--grocery store butchers.
And they were discussing Bible and business with great
fervor. I still remember it today. My personal memory of
meeting the Senator is no different than so many West
Virginians--meeting Senator Robert C. Byrd in every small
nook and cranny of this great State. That is why this loss
is so personal, because we are all family in West
Senator Byrd will be remembered for his tireless
contributions to the people of West Virginia and to the
United States of America.
As the longest serving member of Congress--having cast
more votes and held more leadership positions than any
other Senator, and a historic 57 years of service in
Congress--it would be impossible to stand here and recite
all that our beloved Senator did for you and me.
From highways and hospitals to schools and technology
centers--there are more than 50 projects in West Virginia
that bear his name, or that of his beloved wife, Erma.
We will remember Senator Byrd for the strong family man
that he was. The love of his life, Erma, and their two
daughters, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren
provided unconditional support.
We will remember Senator Byrd for the devoted public
servant that he was.
For the thousands of jobs he created.
For his efforts to protect our veterans and provide
health care to rural areas.
We will remember his commitment to transforming our
economy. We will remember his ongoing quest to provide our
youth with the opportunity to learn, work, and succeed.
We will remember his steadfast leadership, his wisdom,
his reason, his compassion, his strong voice, and
But, more important, we will remember his innate
qualities: honesty, integrity, loyalty, an intense respect
for democracy, and his unwavering love for the people and
the State of West Virginia.
We will never forget his deeply rooted spiritual
conviction and his utmost respect for our Founding
The Senator truly epitomized the spirit of a West
He wore that Mountain State spirit on his sleeve and
never forgot where that journey in history began, back in
Wolf Creek Hollow, in Sophia, West Virginia.
Nor did he forget the hard-working, salt-of-the-earth
people of West Virginia, who he loved as if they were
When he launched a career in public service some 60-plus
years ago, our State was a blank canvas--untouched by the
colors of the modern ways of life.
Senator Byrd brought that blank canvas to life using
broad intellect and optimism and a can-do spirit that
resonated throughout the hills of West Virginia.
In fact, when his political career was in its beginning
stages, there were only 4 miles of divided four-lane
highway in our State--and Senator Byrd made it his mission
to transform those barren lands.
He was a true champion. A man of his word, and a true
patriot and guardian of the U.S. Constitution.
Senator Byrd was looked up to by all of Congress and
often referred to as the ``Conscience of the Senate.'' A
long list of colleagues have sung his praises. Here are
just a few:
Senator Bob Dole said, ``He has set a standard as a
Senator, as a legislative leader, and as a statesman that
will stand among the best as long as there is a Senate.''
His dear friend Senator Ted Kennedy said that ``he
personifies what our Founding Fathers were thinking about
when they were thinking about a U.S. Senate.''
He has been called a ``patriot and warrior of the U.S.
However, the best way that I can describe the Senator is
as the ``Architect of Appalachia.''
He is the most historic figure to ever call West
Virginia home, and will forever live in our hearts and
those of our children.
No one can replace our Senator. No one can fill his
shoes; we must never forget his tireless dedication as we
humbly follow in his footsteps.
Senator Byrd, you've toiled and triumphed on behalf of
the Mountain State, and now your time to rest has come.
Your memory will live in our hearts forever.
May God bless you and Erma.
May God bless the State of West Virginia.
May God bless America.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Ten years ago
Senator Byrd honored me and the students at the University
of Louisville by making a trip to Kentucky to share some
of his wisdom about the Senate. I regret to say it's taken
me a decade to return the favor. But I do so with a deep
sense of gratitude, not only for that particular kindness,
but for many others he showed me over the years, and for
the many valuable lessons I have learned and relearned
from the life and example of Robert C. Byrd.
Others have talked about his encyclopedic knowledge of
history and literature; his courtliness; his profound
reverence for the U.S. Constitution, his oratory. It's all
true. For about a quarter of the time our Government has
existed, Senator Byrd stood like a sentry in a three-piece
suit keeping watch over the legislative branch. But here
in West Virginia, one can't help but be reminded first and
foremost of the challenges he overcame to achieve all
It's one of the glories of our country that success
isn't restricted to the connected or the well born, that
anyone with enough talent and drive can rise to the
heights of power and prestige. It's remarkable to think
that the man who wrote the Gettysburg Address was raised
by a couple who couldn't even sign their own names. And
it's no less remarkable that the man we honor today, a man
who held every one of us spellbound with his knowledge and
his command of history, couldn't even afford a pair of
socks to wear to Sunday school as a boy.
So here, in Charleston, we are reminded that the
American promise reaches even into the most remote corners
of Hardin County, Kentucky, and the winding hollows of
Raleigh County, West Virginia. The glory of our Nation is
reaffirmed every time another man or woman overcomes what
some call disadvantages to achieve great things. And
Robert Byrd may well be their patron saint.
He was the ultimate self-made man, the high school
valedictorian who couldn't afford to go to college but who
could teach a room full of professors something new every
day--a walking argument for home schooling. He was the
orphan who grew up in a home without electricity or
running water, but who spent his adult life giving back to
his adopted State as much as his beloved adopted parents
gave him. Best of all, he was never embarrassed by the
poverty of his youth. He wore it like a badge of honor--
because he knew his dignity lay not in material
possessions, but in being the child of a loving God, the
husband of a devoted wife, a citizen of the United States
of America, and a son of the Mountain State.
Some people get elected to the Senate with the hope of
making it on the national stage. Not Robert Byrd. As he
once put it: ``When I am dead and am opened, they will
find West Virginia written on my heart.''
He made it all look easy, but it didn't come easy. I
remember asking him once if he'd ever been to a football
game. He said he hadn't--and then he corrected himself. He
actually had gone to a game once, but only to the halftime
show, and even then he left halfway before it was over. He
was making better use of his time than we were, learning
the lessons of history, expanding his views, always
learning. Quoting one of the seven wise men of Greece, he
would say, ``I grow old in the pursuit of learning.'' He
was the only person I ever knew who had no interest in
leisure whatsoever. ``No ball game ever changed the course
of history,'' he said.
The fact is, he was engaged in a different contest--not
for a perishable crown, but for an imperishable one. And
in the end, he could say with Paul that he had run the
race as if to win. We are consoled by the thought that
this man who believed, even in the twilight of his life,
that the prayers of his mother had always followed him,
has reached his father's house, and that Robert Carlyle
Byrd has heard those words he always longed to hear:
``Well done, good and faithful servant, come share your
Victoria Kennedy. I am honored to be here and humbled to
speak for someone else who treasured the man we mourn and
celebrate today: A giant in the history of the Senate, and
a giant in the history of West Virginia, for whom the
smallest corner of this State could be the greatest of
My husband wrote of Robert Byrd's ``vast knowledge and
experience, his remarkable insight and wisdom.'' But he
was for Teddy so much more than that.
Briefly foes, they became the best of friends. Coming
from very different places, across the years they came
together to keep America's promise.
Robert Byrd moved with our country, and he moved our
country forward, from the ceaseless fight for economic
justice to the long struggle for health care--where, from
the floor of the U.S. Senate last Christmas Eve, he raised
his arm and his voice to cast the deciding vote. I was in
the gallery and the tears flowed down my cheeks when he
said: ``Mr. President, this is for my friend Ted Kennedy--
And yes, as the years passed, they were together too in
the quest for civil rights and equal rights. His friend
Teddy had no patience for those who focused on a distant
past instead of the Robert Byrd who day after day, at the
center of our democracy, was giving heart, hand, and his
peerless parliamentary command to help those left behind
and to advance our highest hopes for the future.
On the floor of the Senate in 2007, Senator Byrd
defiantly exclaimed: ``People do get older. Even, dare I
say it, old.'' But with his indomitable will the power of
his eloquence proved anew that ``youth is not a time of
life, but a state of mind.'' It was in the eighth decade
of his life and the fifth decade of his service in the
legislative branch, that he foresaw the folly of invading
Iraq and spoke for conscience and constitution against the
tides of onrushing war. Old, yes: He was like a prophet of
old. And not just here, but always, Robert Byrd stood for
the Constitution--and for the integrity and authority of
the Senate. Teddy, who shared his love of history, thought
of him as a modern incarnation of ancient virtues--a Roman
from West Virginia.
To the citizens of this State he loved, there is another
epitaph from centuries ago that surely applies to him:
``If you seek his monument, look all around you.'' He not
only changed the landscape and so many lives here, he
touched souls and people knew without being told that he
was on their side. I saw this as Teddy and I campaigned
across West Virginia with Senator Byrd during the 2004
Presidential contest. We crisscrossed the State in a big
bus. He was an incredible force, quoting Scripture,
striding the back of flatbed trucks, spellbinding his
audiences. Teddy told me we were watching a master--which
was high praise indeed from someone who was a master
campaigner himself. I'm not sure Robert Byrd would have
put it this way, but he was a rock star.
Finally, to all of you, to the family and friends who
have lost him now and love him as before, let me share
what I have learned: The sorrow will be there, returning
each day, often randomly and quickened by little things;
but you will be sustained by the priceless grace of memory
and the gifts of faith. And so it was with Robert Byrd, as
he looked forward to being reunited as he now is with his
He made history that few others in the Senate Chamber
ever have. He lifted up countless lives as few Senators
from any State ever have.
Someone will take Robert Byrd's seat, but no one will
ever fill his place.
Senator John D. Rockefeller IV. Today, as West Virginians,
we mourn the incredible loss of our friend, our fighter,
our protector and our Senator--Robert C. Byrd.
And today, we also celebrate his remarkable life.
This is not an easy balance for us.
From the southern hills to the northern panhandle, we
have shed many tears at the news of his passing.
Yet we stand together as a people, with warmth in our
hearts knowing that his legacy will live on, and grateful
that the Nation today pauses to honor him.
Senator Byrd was, in so many ways, the embodiment of
what it is to be a West Virginian.
Working together with Robert C. Byrd was my greatest
honor. I spent decades working in partnership with him.
He made me--and all of us--so very proud to be West
He took such a pure joy--and ferocious, unyielding
pride--not just in the Senate as an institution, but in
pulling the levers of power for West Virginia, for people,
for education and veterans, for health care and for
It was in his blood. It was his sacred cause.
Robert C. Byrd reached great heights because of the
purity of his purpose and the depth of his determination.
Every day, I intimately witnessed that Senator Byrd
never forgot where he came from and he never let up--even
when his heart was broken.
First, with the tragic death of his young grandson.
And then, I know a part of him was lost forever when his
beloved Erma passed on.
Watching him hurt was deeply agonizing for all who loved
I wished so much that there was anything I could do to
ease his pain.
I was so moved by Senator Byrd's continuing on so
strongly as he did after losing Erma.
When Senator Byrd and I would see each other on the
Senate floor since Erma's passing, he would take my hand,
ever so gently, and hold it to his cheek.
To Sharon and I--and all of us in West Virginia--Robert
C. Byrd was our family.
And it was his special touch that made us all shine.
Thank you, Senator Byrd.
We will miss you.
From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.
And always, we honor you.
Congressman Nick Joe Rahall. Reverend Clergy, Mr.
Presidents, Mr. Vice President, Mona and Marjorie, Senator
Byrd's family, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, his
hard-working staff, Members and colleagues of his from the
Senate, leaders of the Senate, Speaker of the House,
members of the State legislature.
You know, I just never really thought he'd die. Just
never really thought he would.
Although this day is not unexpected, it is unexpectedly
difficult to stand here to say goodbye to Senator Robert
C. Byrd--our Senator, our chairman, our mentor, our
friend, our Big Daddy. He was so eloquent and so erudite,
that it is daunting to find the words that can encompass
the enormity of the man and all that he has left behind.
All around us, Senator Byrd has left his legacy to the
State and the Nation that he loved. We could talk about
the bricks and mortar, the records set both in West
Virginia and national legislatures, but Senator Byrd has
quite literally paved our way to the future. He has paved
a path to the future. But I believe that his most lasting
legacy will come from the example he set with his own
life, full of lessons for each of us to learn from and
Senator Byrd never stopped learning and never stopped
working, despite the obstacles that we all know and the
setbacks that would immobilize less determined
individuals. He was a great reader of what he called the
greatest book of all--the Bible, of histories from ancient
Rome to the 20th century, to poetry, and believe you me,
from memory. I heard it often whether to his staff driving
him back and forth between Washington and West Virginia or
even as his Congressman driving him back and forth to West
Virginia. I heard such recitations very often. And indeed
they kept me awake when I was driving the car. I have been
working for Senator Byrd for over 40 years on his staff
and in the Senate Democratic Cloakroom and now until the
last few days as his Congressman.
When Senator Byrd had a problem, when he needed help on
an issue, he would always call his Congressman and I'd be
there to help him in any way I could.
He loved beautiful words and he loved to share them. The
Congressional Record and our public libraries are much
richer for it.
No Bible nor dictionary went unread by Senator Byrd.
A lover of history, Senator Byrd deftly put history to
work with more passion and power and promise than anyone
in the Republic's history. But while he relished history,
he lived for the future--the future of his great State and
our great country. He was unapologetic to critics of his
efforts to bring Federal programs and dollars to West
Virginia. To him, it was a labor of love, and when Robert
C. Byrd loved, he loved deeply and for all the days of his
To Senator Byrd the Constitution was not a historical
relic, but rather the living, breathing soul of the
Republic. He was its greatest defender and its most
It is fitting that this lover of history, the guardian
of the Constitution, this son of the Senate, is being
memorialized even as the Nation celebrates Independence
Day. Senator Byrd may not have been a Founding Father, but
this adopted son of a West Virginia coal miner would have
been right at home among them.
Yes, he could hobnob with kings and queens all over the
world and princes and princesses, and he could scold
Presidents of the United States. But you know, my friends,
as well as I know where he was most comfortable. That was
either in my parents' home in Beckley, West Virginia, in
Raleigh, West Virginia, or in my home or in your home. He
was much more comfortable sitting down to a dinner of
beans, and cornbread and onions, and sipping buttermilk.
He competed only against himself, to work the hardest,
to do the most, to cast the greatest number of votes, to
be his very best. And in doing so, he inspired generations
of West Virginians.
Yes, Senator Byrd, in the words of one of his favorite
poems, has now ``crossed the bar.'' He has set sail on a
journey to that farthest shore, where his beloved Erma
waits for him. I know that I speak for my colleagues
today, Representative Alan Mollohan and Representative
Shelley Moore Capito in saying Godspeed, my dear Senator.
In his role as President pro tempore of the Senate,
Senator Byrd represented the entire Senate at significant
national events. His compatriot during those events, our
Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is joined
here today by our Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, our Speaker
knew Senator Byrd almost as well as we West Virginians.
They traveled together; they represented both bodies of
this great country of ours, in many different forums.
The Speaker's and Senator Byrd's approaches to
statecraft are similar in that no detail is too small,
every vote counts, no vote is taken for granted and every
person matters. They both share a passion for people.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome the Speaker of the House
of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Good afternoon. Mr. President, Mr.
President, Mr. Vice President, Leaders Reid and McConnell,
Bishop Grove, so many friends of Senator Byrd who are
gathered here. I am so pleased to join my colleagues from
West Virginia--Mr. Rahall, who is a chairman and a great
leader in the Congress of the United States; Congressman
Alan Mollohan, he is a chairman as well; Shelley Moore
Capito. I am pleased to be with them as well as our
delegation from the House of Representatives led by our
Leader Steny Hoyer in the House.
As Speaker of the House, I sadly have the privilege of
bringing the condolences of the House of Representatives
to Marjorie and to Mona and the entire Byrd family. As a
friend of Senator Byrd, I do so with great sadness.
But happily, thanks to the Byrd family, some of us had
the opportunity to sing Senator Byrd's praises in his
presence in December, when he became the longest serving
Member of Congress in American history.
I noted then that Senator Byrd's congressional service
began in the House of Representatives. In those 6 years in
the House, he demonstrated what would become the hallmarks
of his commitment: his love of the people of West
Virginia, his passion for history and public service, and
his remarkable oratorical skills.
I am going to talk to you about his service in the House
briefly. In 1953, this is one of his earliest speeches, he
came to the floor of the House and he said: ``I learned
quite a long time before becoming a Member of this House
that there is an unwritten rule in the minds of some,
perhaps, which is expected to cover the conduct of new
Members in a legislative body to the extent that they
should be often seen but seldom be heard; I have observed
this rule,'' he said, ``very carefully up to this time and
I shall continue to do so. However, the Book of
Ecclesiastes says: `To everything there is a season, a
time to keep silence and a time to speak.''' And he
decided it was time for him to speak.
He went on in that speech; it was one of his earliest
speeches. He went on in that speech to quote not only the
Bible, but Shakespeare, Rudyard Kipling, and Daniel
Webster. And, Mr. President, this was a speech about world
Though he thrived in the House, when he moved on to the
Senate, Senator Byrd remarked that he was happy to leave
behind the limitations on speaking time on the House
On a personal moment, I'll never forget a dinner I
hosted for him in the early 1980s in California when he
was running for reelection at that time.
After dinner we didn't know what to expect. We were all
so nervous to be in the presence of such a great person.
And what did he do? He pulled out his fiddle and regaled
us with West Virginia tunes and told us great stories
about each and every one of you. That was an act of
friendship that I will never forget.
Later, when I came to Congress, I told Senator Byrd how
my father, who had served in Congress, gave me the image
of a coal miner carved in coal. It is the only thing I
have from my father's office as a Member of Congress. It
had been a gift to him from Jennings Randolph, who had
represented West Virginia so well, and it sat in my
father's office when he was in the House of
It now sits in the Speaker's office. It is in my West
Virginia corner, along with a silver tray from Senator
Byrd which I love especially because it is engraved,
``With thanks, from Robert and Erma.''
In the beginning of my comments, I mentioned a speech of
Senator Byrd's on the House floor. That day, in 1953, he
quoted the words of Daniel Webster. These words, when you
come to the Capitol, are etched on the wall of the Chamber
high above the Speaker's chair. And these words would come
to define his leadership as he voiced them in that
earliest speech. Senator Byrd said, ``Let us develop the
resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its
institutions, promote all its great interests and see
whether we also in our day and generation may not perform
something worthy to be remembered.'' Daniel Webster.
Senator Byrd's service, and his leadership, were more
than worthy to be remembered for many generations to come.
As my colleague Mr. Rahall said, it is very appropriate
that we are celebrating Robert Byrd's life and putting him
to rest in the week of July 4th; he was a great American
patriot. And as Governor Manchin said, ``We shall never
see his like again.''
May he rest in peace. Amen.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. I went to a library in
Nevada about 15 years ago and took out the old novel
Robinson Crusoe. When I came back to the Senate, Robert
Byrd was one of the first people I saw.
We talked about the time we had spent back home, and I
mentioned that I had just read this classic story of a
Senator Byrd just leaned his head back, looked toward
the heavens and paused for a second. Then he said: ``28
years, 2 months and 19 days.''
I was astonished. I couldn't tell you how many years
Robinson Crusoe had been shipwrecked, and I had just read
the book days before. Robert Byrd knew it to the day, and
he hadn't read it in more than 50 years.
I was hardly the first to be dumbfounded by his
brilliance. We have all marveled at the breadth of Bob
Byrd's boundless mind--one he so generously gave to the
people of this State and this country.
A few years before Barry Goldwater died, he wrote to
Robert Byrd from his home in Arizona, just to tell him how
much he admired Senator Byrd's gift for remembering and
reciting even the most obscure facts. ``Keep it up,''
Goldwater wrote, ``because when you get to heaven, and I'm
there too, I hope I'll have someone to listen to.''
Robert Byrd didn't just memorize and catalog for the
heck of it. In fact, he once advised a crowd here in
Charleston that the purpose of education is not simply to
make the mind a storehouse of information--but to
transform it into an inquisitive and innovative instrument
He could never quite quench his thirst for learning. It
was without limit and without equal.
The first in his family to make it to the third grade,
Byrd once said he craved knowledge the way a hungry man
craves bread. And as he consumed it, he grew and he
He never stopped learning--learning from others, or even
from his own mistakes. And with every new lesson he
learned, he also learned how much more there was to know.
Robert Byrd could dispense knowledge as well as he
absorbed it. Indeed, it was because he was a tireless
learner that he became a peerless teacher.
I'll remember how--in his precise, poetic voice--he
taught us to protect the traditions that strengthen the
Senate of the United States, and warned us to avoid the
hazards that weakened the Senate of ancient Rome.
He taught me to carry in my pocket a copy of the
Constitution all Senators swear to support and defend.
I have it with me today--as I do every day--with a
personal note from Senator Byrd inscribed inside.
Robert Byrd always kept that charter so close to his
heart because he loved his country. We will always keep
his memory so close to our hearts because we loved him.
When the Founders conjured this Constitution Robert Byrd
so revered and treasured--when they imagined the people's
representatives who would fill the great positions they
prescribed--I believe they had the senior Senator from
West Virginia in mind. They had to.
The authors outlined only a few characteristics of a
U.S. Senator--his age, citizenship, and residency. If only
they had kept writing, I'm confident they would have
described Robert C. Byrd in full.
He was exactly what they intended: An eloquent,
steadfast steward of the Nation's founding principles--
fiercely loyal to the State that chose him--forever
faithful to his constituents, his country, and his
It's hard to believe America's longest serving Member of
Congress was once a freshman Senator. But in the summer of
that first year--1959--the Charleston Gazette asked a
young Robert Byrd to name his highest ambition.
``If I live long enough,'' he replied, ``I would like to
be Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.''
Why did he dream that dream? Why didn't he aspire to the
White House, or the Governor's Mansion, or any other high
It's because Robert Byrd knew it was from that chair
that he could best help his neighbors back home. He knew
that was his first and most important job as their
representative in the Senate.
Of course--just as he'd predicted--Robert Byrd did
indeed live long enough to hold the gavel he coveted.
Thirty years to the day after he assumed the title of
Senator, he assumed the title of Appropriations Committee
chairman--trading in the title of Majority Leader to do
so. And then he lived and served for two decades more.
Though he did more than anyone before--and probably more
than anyone will again--he never thought he'd done enough
for West Virginians. As we watched him work, we learned
another lesson: to never forget why we serve or where we
He once wrote, ``West Virginia is indelibly written on
my heart, and it will be there until my body is returned
to the dust.''
No one has meant more to his State than Robert Byrd did
to West Virginia. The U.S. Senate has never meant more to
anyone than it did to Robert Byrd.
It's true that his records for longevity are astounding.
After all, just think about this: He served in our
Nation's Congress for more than a quarter of the time it
has existed--and longer than a quarter of today's sitting
Senators, and the President, have been alive.
It is by virtue of his endurance that Robert Byrd knew
and worked with many of the greats of American history.
But it is because of his enduring virtue that he will
forever be remembered as one of them.
His career cannot alone be counted in the time he
worked--rather we should measure it in the lives of those
for whom he worked.
His accomplishments aren't in the sum of the millions of
dollars he brought back to cities like Huntington and
Wheeling and Beckley, but the millions of families he
brought out of the same poverty he endured.
On the last day of his life, Robert Byrd felt just as
strongly about that principle as he did the very first
time he rose to speak as a State legislator in the
beautiful State Capitol building behind us.
In that speech--which of course he memorized before
delivering--he said: ``To me, the dollar is secondary.
Human misery and suffering--and the welfare of helpless,
dependent children--come first.'' He was teaching us from
day one, and didn't once stop.
Now, that doesn't mean he didn't also love his
remarkable records of public service--rankings that will
forever be his and never be surpassed. He surely was proud
In fact, I have no doubt that right now, Robert Byrd is
bowing his head forward, looking down from the heavens and
saying: ``57 years, 5 months and 26 days.''
President William Jefferson Clinton. Thank you very much.
Governor, all the members of Senator Byrd's family, Mr.
President, Mr. Vice President, Madam Speaker, Congressman
Rahall and all the House Members here, Senator Reid,
Senator McConnell, all the Senators, thank you, Senator
Rockefeller, and thank you, Vicki Kennedy.
I'd also like to thank all the people here who, at the
time of his passing worked, or ever worked for Robert
Byrd, who helped him to succeed for the people of West
Virginia. And I want to thank the Martin Luther King male
chorus. They gave us a needed break from all these
politicians talking up here.
I want to say first that I come here to speak for two
members of my family. Hillary wanted to be here today, and
she paid her respects to Senator Byrd as he lay in state
in the U.S. Senate before making a trip on behalf of our
country to Central and Eastern Europe.
I am grateful to Bob Byrd for many things, but one thing
that no one has given enough attention to--in my opinion--
today is that while he always wanted to be the best
Senator, and he always wanted to be the longest serving
Senator, he wanted every other Senator to be the best
Senator that he or she could be. He helped Hillary a lot
when she came to represent the people of New York. I am
forever grateful for that.
Now, everybody else has canonized Senator Byrd. I would
like to humanize him a little bit, because I think it
makes it much more interesting and makes his service all
the more important.
First of all, most people had to go all the way to
Washington to become awed by--you might even say
intimidated by--Robert Byrd.
Not me. I had advance experience before I got elected.
The first time I ever ran for office, at the opening of
campaign season in Arkansas, below the Ouachita and Ozark
Mountains, which were once connected to the Appalachians,
we had this big rally. And the year I started, don't you
know, Robert Byrd was the speaker.
It was 1974, April, I'll never forget it. It was a
beautiful spring night. And he gave one of those
stemwinding speeches. And then he got up and he played the
fiddle, and the crowd went crazy. And you know, in 1974,
in a place like Arkansas or West Virginia, playing the
fiddle was a whole lot better for your politics than
playing the saxophone. So I was completely intimidated.
And then all the candidates got to speak. They were all
limited to 4 or 5 minutes. Some went over. All the
candidates for Governor and every State officer, and then
the people running for the House of Representatives; there
were five of us. We were dead last. And I drew the short
straw. I was dead last among them.
By the time I got up to speak, it had been so long since
Robert Byrd spoke, he was hungry again. And I realized, in
my awed state, I couldn't do that well. So I decided the
only chance I had to be remembered was to give the
shortest speech. I spoke for 90 seconds. And I won the
primary. I owed it to Robert Byrd.
Now, when I was elected President, I knew that one of
the things I needed to do before I took the oath of office
was go to the Senate and pay my respects to Senator Byrd.
In 1974, when I first met him, he had already been the
leading authority on the institutional history of the
Senate and the Senate rules for some years, and he
certainly was by the time I was about to become President.
So I did that. And I got a copy of his history of the
Senate, and his history of the Roman Senate. And I read
them. I'm proud to say they're still on my bookshelf in my
office in Harlem in New York City today because I was so
Now, Robert Byrd was not without a sense of humor. For
example, I was once ragging him about all the Federal
money he was hauling down to West Virginia. I was from
Arkansas. We weren't any better off than you. And every
friend I had in Arkansas said, ``He's just a Senator.
You're sitting in the White House. We don't get squat
compared to what they get. What is the matter with you?''
I was getting the living daylights beat out of me about
once a week.
So I said to him, early in my first term, I said, ``You
know, Senator, if you pave every single inch of West
Virginia, it's going to be much harder to mine coal.'' And
he smiled, and he said, ``The Constitution does not
prohibit humble servants from delivering whatever they can
to their constituents.''
But let me say something, seriously. He knew people who
are elected to represent States and regions and political
philosophies. They're flesh and blood people, which means
they will never be perfect. He knew they are subject to
passion and anger. When you make a decision that's
important when you're mad, there's about an 80 percent
chance you'll make a mistake. That's why he thought the
rules and the institution and the Constitution were so
important. And he put them before everything, even what he
I'll never forget when we were trying to pass health
care reform in 1993 and 1994. Senator Byrd was a
passionate supporter of the efforts we were making, just
as he was of the efforts that President Obama has made.
But we Democrats only had 55 votes, and we could not
defeat a filibuster. So I said, ``Well, Senator, why don't
you just let me stick this on the budget, because that's
the only thing they can't filibuster.'' That violated
something called the Byrd rule.
They knew he was running the Senate. They just went
ahead and named the rule for him. So I said, ``You know,
you really ought to suspend this, because the budget is
going to be bankrupt if we don't quit spending so much
money on health care.''
And he looked at me and he said, ``That argument might
have worked when you were a professor in law school. But
you know as well as I do, it is substantively wrong.'' He
wouldn't do it.
Then, in his defense, he turned right around, and he
worked his heart out to break that filibuster, and he was
trying till the very end to get me to not give up the
fight, because he thought if we just tried hard enough, we
could find some errant Republicans who would make a
mistake and vote with us. He would never give it up.
The point I want to make is, he made a decision against
his own interests, his own conviction, his own fight. And
that's one reason I thank God that he could go in his
wheelchair, in his most significant vote at the end of his
service in the Senate, and vote for health care reform and
make it real law.
I will also say this. If you wanted to get along with
Senator Byrd, and you were having one of those
constitutional differences, it was better for your long-
term health if you lost the battle. I won the battle over
the line-item veto. Oh, he hated the line-item veto. He
hated the line-item veto with a passion that most people
in West Virginia reserve for blood feuds, like the
Hatfields and the McCoys.
You would have thought the line-item veto had been
killing members of the Byrd family for 100 years. It made
his blood boil. ``You've never been lectured by
anybody''--Nick Rahall said that. ``Until Bob Byrd has
lectured you, you have never known a lecture.'' I regret
that every new President and every new Member of Congress
will never have the experience of being dressed down by
Senator Robert Byrd.
And I'll be darned if he wasn't right about that, too.
The Supreme Court ruled for him instead of me on the line-
The point I want to make here is a serious one. He did
as good a job for you as he could. As far as he was
concerned, there was no such thing as too much for West
Virginia. But the one thing he would not do, even for you,
is violate his sense of what was required to maintain the
integrity of the Constitution and the integrity of the
U.S. Senate so that America could go on when we were
wrong, as well as right, so we would never be dependent on
always being right.
Let me just say, finally, it is commonplace to say that
he was a self-made man; that he set an example of lifetime
learning. He was the first, and as far as I know, maybe
the only Member of Congress to get a law degree while
serving in the Congress. But he did more learning than
that. And all you've got to do is look around this crowd
today and listen to that music to remember.
There are a lot of people who wrote eulogies for Senator
Byrd in the newspapers, and I read a bunch of them. And
they mentioned that he once had a fleeting association
with the Ku Klux Klan. What does that mean?
I'll tell you what it means. He was a country boy from
the hills and hollers of West Virginia. He was trying to
get elected. And maybe he did something he shouldn't have
done, and he spent the rest of his life making it up.
That's what a good person does.
There are no perfect people. There are certainly no
perfect politicians. And so, yes, I'm glad he got a law
degree. But by the time he got a law degree, he already
knew more than 99 percent of the lawyers in America,
anyway. He got a more important degree in human nature and
human wisdom, the understanding that came to him by
serving you in the Senate. People from the hills and
hollers of West Virginia, in their patriotism, provided a
disproportionate number of the soldiers who fought for our
independence from England. And they have provided a
disproportionate number of the soldiers in every single
solitary conflict since that time, whether they agreed or
disagreed with the policy.
The family feeling, the clan loyalty, the fanatic
independence. The desire for a hand up, not a handout. The
willingness to fight when put into a corner. That has
often got the people from whom Senator Byrd and I sprang
in trouble. Because they didn't keep learning and growing
and understanding that all the African-Americans who have
been left out and let down and lived for going to church
and lived to see their kids get a better deal, and have
their children sign up for the military when they're
needed--they're just like we are. The Irish Catholics and
the Scotch Irish used to fight. They are so alike.
Everybody. The Italian immigrants, the people from Latin
America who have come to our shores. The people from all
over the world. Everybody who's ever been let down and
left out, ignored, and abused, or who's got a terrible
family story. We are all alike. That is the real education
Robert Byrd got, and he lived it every day of his life in
the U.S. Senate to make America a better, stronger place.
So not long after Senator Byrd lost Erma, I said, ``In a
fleeting world ... he had proved, and so had she, that
some people really do love each other till death do they
I've been thinking about that today, thinking maybe we
ought to amend the marriage vows and say ``Till death do
us part'' and ``Till death do bring us back together.''
I admired Senator Byrd; I liked him; I was grateful to
him. I loved our arguments, and I loved our common causes.
But most of all, I loved it that he had the wisdom to
believe that America was more important than any one
individual, any one President, any one Senator.
That the rules, the institutions, the system had to
enable us to keep forming a more perfect union, through
ups and downs and good times and bad.
He has left us a precious gift. He fought a good fight.
He kept the faith. He has finished his course, but not
ours. If we really would honor him today and every day, we
must remember his lessons, and live by them. Thank you.
Vice President Joe Biden. Bishop, Reverend Clergy, Mona
and Marjorie, the entire Byrd family--if you didn't
already know it, it's pretty clear the incredible esteem
your father was held in. I know you've known that your
To my fellow Members of the Senate, you know, I was
telling the President, when I got elected the last time
and had the great honor of running with the President, on
the same day I was elected Vice President and U.S. Senator
for my seventh term. And I got sworn in for that seventh
term because we thought we might need a vote there in
those first couple weeks. And every time I sat with the
Leader--I never called Senator Byrd ``Senator,'' I always
called him ``Leader''--when I sat with the Leader, I could
see that look in his face and he said, ``Joe, you sure
you're making the right decision giving up the Senate for
Vice President?'' (Laughter.) Because as the Senators
know, he revered the Senate. As Danny Inouye said going
into the Chamber when we were going in to honor your
father, ``You know, Joe, had you stayed, you'd be number
two.'' I'm still number two, Danny. (Laughter.) I'm still
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. President, yesterday I had
the opportunity to pay my respects to Leader Byrd as he
lay in repose in the Senate Chamber. I met the family then
and again today.
But although I and my colleagues behind me revere the
Senate, Robert C. Byrd elevated the Senate. For other
great men, their families would have chosen for them to
lay in state in the Rotunda. But Bob Byrd and his family
chose to lay him in state in the Senate Chamber. And to
me, this is completely appropriate, having served with him
for 36-plus years. For the Senate Chamber was Robert C.
Byrd's cathedral. The Senate Chamber was his cathedral,
and West Virginia was his heaven. (Applause.)
And there's not a lot of hyperbole in that. Every
person in the Senate, as my colleagues behind you can tell
you, brings something special about them. I'll never
forget having privately criticized a Senator when I was
there the first year. I was sitting with the previous
leader, Senator Mansfield, who was an incredible guy. And
he told me that--he said, ``Why are you upset?'' And I
told him about a particular Senator railing against
something I thought was very worthy, the Americans With
Disabilities Act. And he went on to tell me that every
Member of the Senate represented something in the eyes of
their State that was special and represented a piece of
Well, if there was ever a Senator who was the
embodiment of his State, if there was ever a Senator who,
in fact, reflected his State, it was Robert C. Byrd.
The fact of the matter is, the pick of the banjo, the
sweet sound of the fiddle, ramp dinners in the spring,
country fairs in the summer, the beauty of the laurels in
the mountains, the rush of the rapids through the
valleys--these things not only describe West Virginia, but
from an outsider's point of view who has been here many
times at the invitation of Jennings Randolph and Robert C.
Byrd, it seems to me they define a way of life. It's more
than just a State.
And Robert C. Byrd was the fiercest defender of not
only the State, but the way of life--I think the fiercest
defender that probably this State has ever known in its
You know, Robert Byrd did use the phrase, ``When I die,
West Virginia will be written on my heart.'' And I used to
kid him, I said, ``You have so many Scotch-Irish down
there, you don't acknowledge it was an Irish Catholic
named Joyce who said that first.'' (Laughter.) Reverend,
he quoted everybody else, but when he used that phrase,
he'd never acknowledge that it was James Joyce who said,
``When I die, Dublin will be written in my heart.'' And
all he would do is laugh.
The fact of the matter is, West Virginia was not only
written in his heart but he wore it on his sleeve. He took
such pride in this place. He took such pride in all of
you. I remember he asked me, one of the few races he had,
whether I'd come down because I was the young guy and I'd
come down and demonstrate to everybody that I could not
keep up with Robert C. Byrd, which happened to be true.
And I was--I think, Nick, you were at the dinner. We had a
Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner down here, and Robert C. Byrd
did something that never happened before in all the
dinners I've spoken at. He stood up and he said, ``We're
honored to have Senator Joe Biden from Delaware here
tonight, and Joe, I'd like to introduce you to West
Virginia.'' Then he spent, as Nick will remember, the next
probably 10 minutes talking about everyone in the audience
by name--where they were from, what they had done, how
they had fought through difficulty. And then he said, kind
of like Johnny Carson, ``Here's Joe.'' (Laughter.)
Well, I thought it was pretty impressive--literally.
Robert C. Byrd asked me to speak, but he knew the
privilege was mine, not the people to whom I was speaking.
He was devoted to all of you like few Senators in the 36-
plus years I was there, that I have ever known.
He was fiercely devoted, as you've all heard, to his
principles. Even once he became powerful, he always spoke
truth to power, standing up for the people he proudly was
part of, and you've heard it many times today but it bears
repeating again, in defense of the Constitution he
I always wear a flag pin, but I was afraid he'd be
looking down today because every time I'd wear the flag
pin on the floor, he would grab me, take my pin, and put
on a Constitution pin. That's the pin I'm wearing. So,
Boss, I'm wearing the pin. (Applause.)
Robert C. Byrd said many things, but he once said, ``As
long as there is a forum in which questions can be asked
by men and women who do not stand in awe of a chief
executive, and one can speak as long as one's feet will
allow one to stand, the liberties of the American people
will be secure.''
Twelve Presidents knew Robert C. Byrd. He served, as he
pointed out, concurrently with them, not under them.
(Applause.) And 12 Presidents--were they all here and 2
are here--can attest to the fact that he always showed
respect but never deference. And he stood in awe of none.
He had an incredible, prodigious memory that I will not
take the time to regale you about. I just remember one
time sitting with the Queen of England at a formal dinner,
and he recited the entire--the entire lineage of the
Tudors and every year each one had served. And she sat
there, and I thought her bonnet was going to flip off her
head. (Laughter.) It was like, what did I just hear? She
learned about relatives she probably forgot she had.
As also noted, Robert C. Byrd was a parliamentary
library, a keeper of the institution of the Senate, and he
was the institution itself. But to me and many people here
today, like guys I see, Bill Bradley and Jim Sasser, who
long left the Senate for greener pastures, and I hope
better remuneration--we used to kid about that, too--but
for a lot of us, he was a friend, and he was a mentor and
he was a guide.
Nick and I were talking a little bit earlier, I
commuted every day for 36 years in the U.S. Senate--250
miles a day. Robert C. Byrd was a stickler about when he'd
set votes. And I'd drive down from Delaware to Washington,
and I'd call Nick on this big old car phone I first had--
it was about that big. And I'd say, ``Nick, I can see the
dome. Hold the vote, I can see the dome.''
Finally, Nick caught on, he said, ``Joe--Senator--how
far away can you see the dome?'' (Laughter.) Because he'd
be the one to go to the Leader and say, ``Can you hold the
vote 2 more minutes for Biden?'' As long as I was
behaving, he held the vote. But when I found myself in
disagreement, if I'd need to catch a 7:00 train--he'd set
a vote for 7:00. (Laughter.) And Nick knows this--I'd walk
up to him and I'd stand--I always stood down in the well.
And he stood in the first riser, and I'd say, ``Mr.
Leader, ``you set the vote for 7:00. Any possibility for
setting it at 10 to 7:00 so I could get the train?'' He'd
go like this--he'd look at the clock, look at me, look at
the clock and say, ``No.'' (Laughter.) ``No.''
But that's because I misbehaved once. I voted with
George Mitchell on a matter relating to miners and that
was a big mistake. (Laughter.) He literally took the roll
call sheet--there's these sheets, as the staff members
know--with every Senator's name and how they voted. He
took the roll call sheet, had it framed, had my name
circled in red, and literally had it screwed to the ornate
doorframe in his office then as the chairman of the
Appropriations Committee. So every single Senator coming
to see him would walk out, and at eye height, they'd see
Biden circled in red and know darn well they better not
vote against Robert C. Byrd ever. (Laughter and applause.)
You think I'm joking. I'm not joking.
And then I got in his good graces--I tried to run for
President, he said, ``I don't want any Senators running
for President.'' I said, ``Why, Mr. Leader?'' He said,
``Because you'd never come back and vote when I need
you.'' (Laughter.) So I made a promise that no matter
where I was, if he called me and said he needed my vote,
I'd drop whatever I was doing and I'd come. And I kept the
commitment--the only one I might add. That got me back in
his good graces again.
The point is that this is a man who knew exactly what
he was doing. After I was elected in 1972 as a 29-year-old
kid, I was number 100 out of 100 in Senate seniority. And
Leader Byrd offered up--he was then the whip--he offered
his office to me to come down from Delaware so I could
have a place to interview staff members. It was in his
office, and in the connection his secretary put through,
that I received a call telling me about an accident which
took the life of my wife and my daughter. And when they
were buried, we held a memorial service a couple days
later in Delaware where thousands of people showed up, and
it was a bone-chilling slate day of rain. And people
couldn't get in the church.
And I never knew it initially, but Robert C. Byrd--and I
think you may have driven him up, Nick--drove up on his
own with Nick to that church. He stood outside for the
better part of an hour in a driving rainstorm where the
temperature was below 32. When my brother saw him and
asked him to come in, he said no; he wouldn't displace
anyone. He stayed there for the entire service. When the
service was over, he got in his vehicle and he drove back,
never attempting to be noticed, never seeking that to
know, as my deceased wife used to say, the real measure of
generosity is when you do it and no one ever knew you did
Well, Robert C. Byrd did that. I was appreciative of
what he did, but I quite frankly didn't understand till a
couple years later I was in his office, and behind his
desk was a huge boot cast in bronze. It was Michael's
boot; it was his grandson's boot. And all of a sudden, it
came so crystal clear to me who this guy was. I'd known
him, but I understood immediately what he was about. For
him it was all about family. It was not just Erma, his
beloved wife of nearly 69 years. It was not just his
daughters, his grandchildren, great-grandchildren--all of
whom are in our prayers today. It was an awful lot of you.
I'll bet if he were here he could look out and name you,
and tell you what your father or mother did for him, what
your grandmother or grandfather did for him, and how you
made such and such of yourself.
Clearly in his own life, Robert Byrd suffered a lot of
hardships. You all know the story--losing his mom, being
raised and adopted by an aunt and uncle, growing up in a
home without electricity or water, having to work at an
early age. He had an incredible determination, one that I
don't think any of my colleagues have ever witnessed,
would be my guess. But, you know, this man was--it wasn't
just that, as President Clinton pointed out, that at age
46 and as a sitting Congressman, he went and got a law
degree without having a college degree. And at age 77, he
went to Marshall University and completed his work,
getting his college degree. (Applause.)
Because to him, in my view--and I don't know, the
family would tell you this--to him, I think he felt there
was something wrong with the fact that he got the law
degree without graduating. He didn't need that
undergraduate degree, but it was Bob Byrd. To quote John
Stennis, ``Plow into the hedgerow and to the end of the
The remarkable thing about him is he traveled a hard
path. He devoted his life, though, to making that path a
little easier for those who followed. This is a guy who
continued to taste and smell and feel the suffering of the
people of his State. He tasted it. That's why it was so
deeply ingrained in him.
It wasn't just a moral obligation. This guy remembered.
And he unapologetically--as has been pointed out--did
everything to improve the lives of the people of West
Virginia by stealing all the money from Delaware,
Tennessee, Texas, California, that he could possibly get.
Remember, Governor, two campaigns ago he's getting beat
up for trying to move--was it two campaigns ago?--to have
the FBI moved down to West Virginia. And the national
press was beating him up. I was on the floor with him, and
he just had gotten ripped in a press conference about
that. He--you know how he used to grab you by the arm,
walk you back--he walked me back, he said, ``Joe, I hope
they keep throwing me in the briar patch.'' (Laughter.)
But I tell you what, you West Virginians owe a lot of
people in Delaware for a lot of money we should have
gotten and you got. (Laughter.) I just want you to know
that. So be nice to the rest of us. (Applause.)
By the way, if you doubt any of it, you just drive
here, you cross the Robert C. Byrd Drive, the Robert C.
Byrd Appalachian Highway, the Robert C. Byrd Library and
Learning Center, the Robert C. Byrd Clinic, the Robert C.
Byrd Federal Building in Charleston and on and on.
But, ladies and gentlemen, of course, it's more than the
name we're not going to forget. It's his courage. He died
like he lived his life. He never stopped fighting. How
many people would have hung on as long as he did? How many
people would have the ability to get back out of that
hospital bed and get in a wheelchair and come in and vote?
He never stopped thinking about his people and the things
he cared about.
Speaking recently, Robert Byrd said, ``Like Jefferson
and Adams, I'm inspired to continue serving the land I
love to the very best of my abilities, for the whole of my
Well, he served the land he loved. He served the people
he loved. He served the people who were in his blood. And
because of that service, you had gained greatly. And with
his loss, you're the first who will feel that loss.
But it's not just West Virginia alone. It's all of us.
When I learned of his death, I was on an errand for the
President in Cleveland, and I said, ``You know, to
paraphrase the poet, we shall not see his like again.''
Had he been there, he would have said, ``Joe, that's
Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, Scene II''--(laughter)--``and
the actual quote is, `I shall not look upon his like
Mr. Leader, we're not going to look upon your like
again. I'm not even going to ask God to bless you because
he already had and I know where you are. And may God bless
your family. May God bless this State and this country.
And may God protect our troops. Thank you. (Applause.)
President Barack Obama. Thank you. To Mona and Marjorie,
and to Senator Byrd's entire family, including those
adorable great-granddaughters that I had a chance to
meet--Michelle and I offer you our deepest sympathies.
To Senator Byrd's friends, including the Speaker of the
House, the Majority Leader, the Republican Leader,
President Clinton, Vice President Biden, Vicki Kennedy,
Nick Rahall, and all the previous speakers; Senator
Rockefeller for the outstanding work that you've done for
the State of West Virginia; to his larger family--the
people of West Virginia--I want you all to know that all
America shares your loss. May we all find comfort in a
verse of Scripture that reminds me of our dear friend:
``The time of my departure has come. I have fought the
good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the
It's interesting that you've heard that passage from
several speakers now, because it embodies somebody who
knew how to run a good and long race, and somebody who
knew how to keep the faith--with his State, with his
family, with his country and his Constitution.
Years from now, when I think of the man we memorialize
today, I'll remember him as he was when I came to know
him, his white hair full like a mane, his gait steadied
with a cane.
Determined to make the most of every last breath, the
distinguished gentleman from West Virginia could be found
at his desk until the very end, doing the people's
business, delivering soul-stirring speeches, a hint of the
Appalachians in his voice, stabbing the air with his
finger, fiery as ever, years into his 10th decade.
He was a Senate icon. He was a party leader. He was an
elder statesman. And he was my friend. That's how I'll
Today we remember the path he climbed to such
extraordinary peaks. Born Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr.--
Corny, he joked, for short--his mother lost her life in
the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918. From the aunt and
uncle who raised him, amid West Virginia's coal camps, he
gained not only his Byrd name but a reverence for God
Almighty, a love of learning that was nurtured at Mark
Twain High School. And there he met Erma, his sweetheart
for over 68 years, by whose side he will now rest for
Unable to afford college, he did what he could to get
by, finding work as a gas station attendant, a produce
salesman, a meatcutter, and a welder in the shipyards of
Baltimore and Tampa during World War II. Returning home to
West Virginia after the war, he ran for the State House of
Delegates, using his fiddle case as a briefcase, the
better to stand out on the stump.
Before long, he ran for Congress, serving in the House
before jumping over to the Senate, where he was elected
nine times, held almost every leadership role imaginable,
and proved as capable of swaying others as standing alone,
marking a row of milestones along the way. Longest serving
Member of Congress. Nearly 19,000 votes cast. Not a single
loss at the polls--a record that speaks to the bond that
he had with you, the people of his State.
Transplanted to Washington, his heart remained here, in
West Virginia, in the place that shaped him, with the
people he loved. His heart belonged to you. Making life
better here was his only agenda. Giving you hope, he said,
was his greatest achievement. Hope in the form of new jobs
and industries. Hope in the form of black lung benefits
and union protections. Hope through roads and research
centers, schools and scholarships, health clinics and
industrial parks that bear his name.
His early rival and late friend, Ted Kennedy, used to
joke about campaigning in West Virginia. When his bus
broke down, Ted got hold of the highway patrol, who asked
where he was. And he said, ``I'm on Robert Byrd highway.''
And the dispatcher said, ``Which one?'' (Laughter.)
It's a life that immeasurably improved the lives of West
Virginians. Of course, Robert Byrd was a deeply religious
man, a Christian. And so he understood that our lives are
marked by sins as well as virtues, failures as well as
success, weakness as well as strength. We know there are
things he said--and things he did--that he came to regret.
I remember talking about that the first time I visited
with him. He said, ``There are things I regretted in my
youth. You may know that.'' And I said, ``None of us are
absent some regrets, Senator. That's why we enjoy and seek
the grace of God.''
As I reflect on the full sweep of his 92 years, it seems
to me that his life bent toward justice. Like the
Constitution he tucked in his pocket, like our Nation
itself, Robert Byrd possessed that quintessential American
quality, and that is a capacity to change, a capacity to
learn, a capacity to listen, a capacity to be made more
Over his nearly six decades in our Capitol, he came to
be seen as the very embodiment of the Senate, chronicling
its history in four volumes that he gave to me just as he
gave to President Clinton. I, too, read it. I was scared
he was going to quiz me. (Laughter.)
But as I soon discovered, his passion for the Senate's
past, his mastery of even its most arcane procedures, it
wasn't an obsession with the trivial or the obscure. It
reflected a profoundly noble impulse, a recognition of a
basic truth about this country that we are not a nation of
men, we are a nation of laws. Our way of life rests on our
democratic institutions. Precisely because we are
fallible, it falls to each of us to safeguard these
institutions, even when it's inconvenient, and pass on our
republic more perfect than before.
Considering the vast learning of this self-taught
Senator--his speeches sprinkled with the likes of Cicero
and Shakespeare and Jefferson--it seems fitting to close
with one of his favorite passages in literature, a passage
from Moby Dick:
And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can
alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of
them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And
even if he forever flies within the gorge, that gorge is
in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the
mountain eagle is still higher than any other bird upon
the plain, even though they soar.
Robert Byrd was a mountain eagle, and his lowest swoop
was still higher than the other birds upon the plain.
May God bless Robert C. Byrd. May he be welcomed kindly
by the Righteous Judge. And may his spirit soar forever
like a Catskill eagle, high above the heavens. Thank you
Benediction--Rev. James L. Patterson, president,
Partnership for African American Churches
A benediction seems to indicate finality to a life
celebration such as this. However, according to the faith
that Senator Byrd held so deeply, this celebration will
never end, it simply moves to a more celestial location,
and it is from there that Senator Byrd and his wife Erma
are looking down and observing us at this moment and
wondering what all the fuss is about. The Senator would
say he was simply doing his duty for the citizens of West
The Apostle Paul best described the effectiveness of the
Senator's service when he said, he fought a good fight, he
finished his course, he kept the faith, therefore there is
laid up for him a crown of righteousness which the
Righteous Judge himself shall present to him at that day.
(2 Timothy 4:7) So Heavenly Father as he has cared for and
watched over us all these years we pray that You will care
for and watch over him.
Now unto God who is able to do exceedingly and
abundantly above all that we could ask or think, according
to the power that works in us, be glory but now and
forever more (Ephesians 3:20).
Robert C. Byrd
November 20, 1917-June 28, 2010
A Funeral Service Celebrating the Life of
Robert C. Byrd
July 6, 2010--11:00 a.m.
Prelude ............... .................... ............... ............... Opening Sentences
John 11, John 14, Matthew 11
Dr. William H. Smith ............... Special Music
``What a Friend We Have In Jesus''
Memorial Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir Prayer
Dr. Barry C. Black, Senate Chaplain Special Music
``There Is a Fountain'' Scripture Reading
Dr. William H. Smith Duet
Bobby Taylor, fiddle with bass guitarist Family Remembrances Special Music
``How Great Thou Art'' Scripture Reflection
Rev. Thomas Phythian, Hospice Chaplain Special Music
``This Is My Father's World'' Homily
Dr. William H. Smith Solo
``His Eye Is On the Sparrow''
Michael Ryan, MGySgt, USMC (Retired) Benediction Recessional Postlude ...............
Robert C. Byrd
Photo: Linda Davidson, the Washington Post
``When I am gone and opened,
they will find West Virginia on my heart''
U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd
Senator Byrd is survived by his daughters,
Mona Carole Fatemi and her husband Mohammad
and Marjorie Ellen Moore and her husband Jon;
grandchildren Erik Byrd Fatemi, Mona Byrd Pearson,
Darius James Fatemi, Mary Anne Clarkson,
Fredrik Kurosh Fatemi and the late Jon Michael Moore;
great-grandchildren Caroline Byrd Fatemi,
Emma James Clarkson, Kathryn James Fatemi,
Hannah Byrd Clarkson, Michael Yoo Fatemi,
Anna Cristina Honora Fatemi and
James Matthew Fatemi.
James Stroud Clarkson III
Darius James Fatemi
Erik Byrd Fatemi
Fredrik Kurosh Fatemi
Randy Lee Pearson
Austin John Reinshuttle
The Honorable John D. Rockefeller IV
The Honorable Howard H. Baker, Jr.
The Honorable Ted Stevens
The Honorable Robert J. Dole
The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye
The Honorable Nick J. Rahall II
The Honorable Alan B. Mollohan
The Honorable Walter J. Stewart
Tinker St. Clair
Cecil E. Roberts, Jr.
James E. Nobles
James H. English
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial
contributions be made either to The West Virginia Council
Churches (make checks payable to The Montcoal Mining
Disaster Fund) or the Humane Society of the United States.
Rev. Dr. William H. Smith
Rev. Richard Buerkle, Associate Pastor
Dr. Barry C. Black, Senate Chaplain
Rev. Thomas Phythian, Hospice Chaplain
Rev. Katie McKown, Associate Pastor
Ann Brown, Organist
Russell Krumnow, Pianist
Memorial Baptist Church
The Twenty-Third Psalm
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the
paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of
the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
for thou art with me; Thy rod and
thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence
of mine enemies: thou anointest my head
with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life: and I will
dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
In Loving Memory of
The Honorable Robert C. Byrd
United States Senator
November 20, 1917
June 28, 2010
11 am Tuesday
July 6, 2010
Memorial Baptist Church
3455 Glebe Rd
Arlington, Virginia 22207
The Reverend Doctor Barry Black
The Reverend Katie McKown
The Reverend Tom Phythian
The Reverend Doctor William H. Smith
Columbia Gardens Cemetery
Photo: Linda Davidson, the Washington Post
``When I am gone and opened,
they will find West Virginia on my heart''
U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd
The Honorable Robert C. Byrd
November 20, 1917-June 28, 2010
8 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of
righteousness for His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow
of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of
mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the
days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the
LORD for ever.
Dr. Barry C. Black. Lord God, creator of all, we thank You
that You have made each of us in Your own image and given
us gifts and talents with which to serve You.
We thank You for Senator Robert C. Byrd, Your servant
and my friend. We're grateful for the years we shared with
him, for the good we saw in him, for the love we received
from him, and for the wisdom we gained from him.
Now give us strength and courage to leave him in Your
care, knowing that You have promised that one day we'll be
reunited with loved ones.
As we too journey toward death, teach us to number our
days that we may have hearts of wisdom.
Support us in all the seasons ahead, until the shadows
lengthen and the evening comes; and the busy work is
hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is
done. Then in Your mercy give us a safe lodging and a holy
rest and peace at the last.
We pray in Your powerful name. Amen.
Granddaughters Mary Anne Clarkson and Mona Byrd Pearson.
Mary Anne. Washington Irving once said, ``There is a
sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness,
but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand
tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief ... and
unspeakable love.'' As we walked the funeral march to the
Capitol behind our grandfather's caisson in Charleston, we
gazed into the crowds of mourners and saw, much as we see
in the church pews today, just that: tears of grief and
unspeakable love for a lost friend, colleague, statesman,
advocate, mentor, husband, father, grandfather, and great-
Mona. The man you know as Senator Robert C. Byrd was
even more than that. To us, it was not his great service
to West Virginia and this Nation, his powerful oratory on
the floor of the Senate, or his numerous records and
accomplishments. To us--his grandchildren--he was simply
``Papa,'' and all we wanted was his love, attention, and
approval. His professional life was not what was
important; it was his private side, reserved for us, his
family, that we treasured.
Mary Anne. Toward the end of his life, one of Papa's
great pleasures was going to my parents' house on summer
weekends to enjoy the pool and his family. He loved to sit
out in the Sun because he wanted to have the best tan in
Washington at the end of the August recess. And not
unexpectedly, Papa wasn't content to sit on the sidelines
and watch everyone else enjoying the pool. So at the age
of 90, he decided to learn how to swim. And then Papa
would challenge my girls to contests to see who could hold
their breath under water the longest. So, although our
grandfather always sought perfection, he had these
beautiful moments of imperfection, of seeming less than
the giant of a man that he was.
Mona. And a giant he was. Robert C. Byrd ran the Senate,
but my grandmother, Mamma, ran the family and the home.
She made sure that Papa never had to worry or concern
himself with the domestic side of life. In some ways that
was to his detriment and it was a family joke how little
Papa knew about household things. Papa once decided to
demonstrate to everyone how he could take care of himself
by making a cup of tea. He heated the water, put it in the
mug, and carefully proceeded to cut open a tea bag and
pour its contents directly into the cup. After stirring
the loose tea into his mug, he then proudly displayed the
results to us. He was first perplexed by our hilarity, but
after we explained how the rest of us used a tea bag, he
laughed harder than any of us.
Mary Anne. Years later, as Mamma's health was failing,
Papa focused his attention on her care, firmly grasping
the opportunity to repay her for all the years of selfless
devotion and care she had given to him. He jumped in with
his typical vigor and took charge of the household that
was once her domain--mopping the floors, scrubbing the
bathrooms, and managing the checkbook he had given her
nearly 69 years earlier. She never wanted for better care.
She was never alone, and at night, when she was close to
the end of her suffering, he would hold her hand and sing
to her, always telling her how much he loved her.
Mona. Perhaps the thing Papa loved most outside of Mamma
and work was music. As children, our fondest memories were
of him playing his fiddle. When Papa played the fiddle he
was a different and carefree person. I always remember the
joy and happiness when we gathered at home to listen to
him play. He often said that the two things that relieved
stress in his life were confiding in Mamma and playing
music. One of his biggest regrets was that the tremors in
his hands prevented him from playing his fiddle, but he
could still sing. On his 90th birthday his staff held a
party at a hotel near the Capitol. Some of you may have
been there. They had arranged for a high school band to
play some of the old bluegrass favorites and when he
joined in to sing it was amazing to see his youth return
and the years and sorrows melted away.
Mary Anne. Much has been said about the buildings,
roads, and hospitals and other parts of West Virginia that
my grandfather caused to be built. But he did more than
that: he shaped people and he shaped ideas. From him, I
learned first hand, the nature of hard work, the value of
a promise kept, attention to detail, loyalty, and the
results of persistence. So in a very real sense, Mona and
I, as well as our entire family and many others are also
Mona. In closing, we'd like to read a poem, The Measure
of a Man, by Jeremy Teoh. We believe it captures the
lessons of Papa's life, for us to carry forward and live
Mona: A man is not measured by the frequency of his
But rather by the echoes of his actions.
Mary Anne: A man is not measured by the strength of his
But rather the strength of his will.
Mona: A man is not measured by the amount of money in
But rather by how much he is willing to share.
Mary Anne: A man is not measured by the amount of his
But rather the way he shepherds.
Mona: A man is not measured by his courage alone,
But rather by the courage he can give others.
Mary Anne: A man is not one who serves himself,
But rather one who serves his people.
Mona: A man is not one who follows orders,
But rather one who follows his heart.
Mary Anne: But the true measure of a man is,
One who can love people around him,
Without asking for anything in return,
Mona: Except the little glimmer of hope that,
Others will love him as well.
Papa, we love you.
Daughter Marjorie Byrd Moore. Much has been said about my
father, but I think if he were here today he would say
``talk about Erma some.'' So I'd like to talk about both
of them by reading you a poem he composed to her in April
1933 at the age of 15. It's titled Sweet Memories of
When I was but a youngster
I thought I loved the dames,
But the sweetest of all,
I now recall,
Was a girl named Erma James.
Every day in our little ole school--
I used to write 'er a note and come--
At the change of classes, to her locker door
And give 'er my chewing gum.
A beautiful lass this little girl was
With her eyes a charming blue
Her hands small and dainty like
Voice sweet as the morning dew--
We wrote notes for many a day
And it makes me very sad
To tell that she wrote me a note one eve'
And I, little fool, got mad.
I kept on going to her house--
Oh! I would that I had kissed her!
But never a word would I
Speak to Erma
But always to her sister.
Finally on the 12th of June
After a month or two of delay
I greased her pretty nose in fun
For it was my darling's birthday--
And then of course we
Were sweethearts again--
And good were the times we had
We'd go to the store and we'd
Go to the show,
And play rook with her
Mother and dad.
After school in those good ole' days
We would always get together
We would have our chats on rainy days
And play in pretty weather--
Sometimes we would both play hookey together
And at home we would stay and play
Eat apples, mints, and eskimo pies
And then be sick next day.
But finally came the
And little ``baby'' went away
But we'd write letters and
Send our love--
To the other far away.
As old Sept. rolled
And school days were
Little Erma came back
To the ole' home town
And I saw the little dear.
With her came
Whom I quickly came to like
We had a party and rode
A Ford and took
Pictures on the ole Turnpike.
School days began but we still had our fun
And then came Halloween--
When the gobs and goblins, and bats and cats,
And witches are to be seen.
All these are in the past and now comes
What will be in the days to come?
I still love Erma the best of all
And I guess she loves me some.
But now as Christmas beckons softly
And Santa's at the door,
I must remember, in stark December,
Of the sweetheart I adore.
How dear to my heart is this girl of my childhood.
And I believe their love will endure through eternity.
I love you Daddy.
Erik Fatemi. When I was about 5 years old, my grandfather
would ask me a series of questions practically every time
I saw him. ``Erik, who discovered America? What year? Who
wrote the Declaration of Independence?'' And so forth. And
if I got the answers right, he would give me a quarter.
At that time, of course, I didn't understand who Robert
C. Byrd was to the rest of the country. To me he was Papa.
Though I did get the sense he was important somehow. For
instance, whenever I visited his office, I noticed there
were a lot of people there who did exactly what he told
them, and they seemed to be in a hurry about it.
I also noticed he had a lot of quarters. So I decided it
was in my best interest to learn the answers to those
history questions. ``Christopher Columbus!'' I'd say.
``1492! Thomas Jefferson!'' And then my palm would start
getting itchy for some cold, hard cash.
It was my first lesson in the awesome power of
appropriations to improve people's education.
I learned a lot of lessons from my grandfather over the
course of my life, both as a grandson and a staffer on the
Appropriations Committee. We all learned from him. I think
one reason we're sad he's gone is that this self-taught
man taught us all so much. He made us want to work harder,
learn more, be better people. Whether you were a
grandchild, or a staffer, or a fellow Senator, or just
another President of the United States, when you met with
my grandfather, you made sure you had the right answer.
And pity the poor staffer who gave him a memo that
misspelled a word or left out a comma. You did not want to
be that person.
Tina Evans, one of his longtime staffers, wrote me the
day he died, ``Some bosses demand excellence; Senator Byrd
assumed excellence, and those of us who won his trust were
determined never to let him down.''
That only worked because he pushed himself harder than
he pushed anyone else. Many of us have wondered what we
might be capable of if we really focused, worked hard, and
tried to achieve something. Many of us wonder; he did it.
He died knowing exactly what he was capable of.
Where he ranks among the great U.S. Senators will be for
the historians to decide. But this we can say today: He
was the best Senator he possibly could have been, and he
did it for longer than anyone else in history.
This is a story that few people know. Two years ago--
summer 2008--was a difficult time for my grandfather. He
was still chairman of the Appropriations Committee, but
every day brought more speculation: Will he step down?
Will he be removed? Who will take his place? Will it be
this Senator? Will it be that Senator? It was not the sort
of time on Capitol Hill that brings out the best in
There was a full committee hearing coming up, and my
grandfather decided to let another Senator chair it rather
than himself. It was the correct decision, but it was not
an easy one for this very proud man to make. He knew it
was the beginning of the end of his tenure.
I was visiting his house the Sunday before that hearing.
My parents happened to be there, too, and we got to
talking about the situation in the Senate. My grandfather
was somber, pensive. And then he did something unusual for
our family. He asked us to hold hands with him and pray.
I'll never forget what he asked for. He said, ``Father,
give me the strength to do a few more things for my
He was 90 years old. God knows he had earned the right
to pray for something else. And yet there was that
plaintive plea--just ``a few more things.''
As it turned out, he did do a few more things. He
endorsed the Nation's first Black President. He cast the
deciding vote for health care reform, in the middle of the
night, in a snowstorm. And just a few weeks before he
died, he spent more than an hour grilling witnesses at a
Senate hearing about how to improve the safety of coal
mines in West Virginia.
Those few things he did between ages 90 and 92 were more
than what some people do in a lifetime.
And yet it's true that in his final years, his thoughts
turned more and more to crossing the bar, and rejoining
his wife, my grandmother. And so, when I would visit him,
we spent less time discussing politics, like we used to
do, and more time reliving memories from the distant past,
when I was a kid.
The last time we spoke was Father's Day--a week before
he died. He was quiet. I had brought my girls to visit,
too, and normally that would liven him up, but not this
time. And so after a while we gave him a hug and started
walking toward the door. And then he called out, ``Who
It had been almost 40 years since I had earned a quarter
for answering that question. But I had to show him I
hadn't forgotten. ``Christopher Columbus!'' I said.
He said, ``Do you remember when I'd ask you that? And
then I'd give you a quarter?''
``Sure, Papa,'' I said. ``I remember.''
How could I forget that? How can any of us forget this
Dr. William H. Smith.
How the mighty are fallen!
``Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of
How the mighty are fallen.
Weep ye daughters of Israel. Let there be no dew. Neither
let there be rain.
Swifter than eagle, stronger than lion, yet
How the mighty are fallen!
With the poetry of David we join our hearts to
acknowledge the passing of a great leader. Our Nation has
lowered its flags to half staff. The President and the
Congress have gathered to pay their respects. Now,
alongside the family we come to this final service to
recognize Robert Byrd as father, grandfather, great-
grandfather and faithful Christian.
I want us to look briefly at three passages of
Scripture; each one will help us see the witness of our
brother in Christ to the Gospel. Senator Byrd loved the
Gospel. He found the Gospel central to his life, and his
life calls us to embrace the good news of Jesus Christ,
the Gospel of salvation, so that we may live into eternity
and one day join him. He will not return to us in this
life, but we may go to him. That is the promise of the
Gospel. Praise be to God.
It is right to use Scripture for these remarks today.
Senator Byrd loved the Bible, especially the King James
version of the Bible. At his first or one of his early
visits to Memorial I was preaching on the importance of
the Bible. After the service he put his arm around my neck
and drew me close to him. He quoted from memory the text I
had used in the sermon. Then he quoted about 10 verses
before my text and 10 verses after my text--all from
memory. I have studied the Bible all my life, but I would
be hard pressed to walk into a service and call from
memory 20 verses before and after a text that a pastor had
chosen to preach.
He was a student of the Bible. He was a teacher of the
Bible. As a younger man he started a Sunday school class
that is still going today. He and Mrs. Byrd wrote a series
of devotionals for young people based on the Bible. So, we
remember him well today when we look at the Bible for
guidance. We have three passages to read that speak to us
about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The first Scripture for our consideration comes from
Ephesians chapter two and verse eight. It reads: ``For by
grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any
man should boast.''
On one occasion Senator Byrd and I were sitting together
downstairs in Fellowship Hall. We were having a churchwide
dinner to celebrate an anniversary. He said to me but
loudly enough for anyone at the table to hear, ``I want to
be acceptable.'' I responded to him with some amazement
and said, ``Senator Byrd, you are more than acceptable.
You are recognized by the Nation as a great leader.'' He
gave me a sharp look as if to suggest that I should know
better than to have made that comment. He then said, ``I
don't mean all that; I just want to be acceptable to
Jesus.'' Chagrined, I replied, ``Yes sir; you are right.
That is most important for all of us.''
Senator Byrd shared his testimony when we had our first
visit together. You can find that testimony in his
autobiography. He was a believer. He described himself as
a born-again, old-time religion, Bible-based Christian. He
was baptized along with Mrs. Byrd at age 19 at Crab
Orchard Baptist Church by Pastor Merlin Smith.
Senator Byrd understood that we are saved or put right
with God, not by our accomplishments in life, our good
works, but by God's grace, God's unmerited favor. All of
us come to the Lord in the same way: we confess our sins;
we repent of our sins; we invite Jesus into our hearts as
Lord and Savior, and we receive spiritual renewal or
regeneration through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Listen to a second Scripture about the Gospel of
salvation. At the cemetery there is a beautiful stone
marker where Senator Byrd will be laid to rest alongside
his dear wife. On his headstone he had inscribed a passage
from John's Gospel, chapter 11. In John 11 we find that
the friend of Jesus, Lazarus, had died. The Lord came to
the grave of Lazarus. First he wept, but then he called
Lazarus to come forth. Jesus then commanded the attendants
surrounding the risen Lazarus with these words, chosen by
Senator Byrd for his headstone. Jesus said: ``Loose him
and let him go!''
When we are saved or put right with God, Jesus begins a
process in our lives of setting us free. Just as Lazarus
had the grave clothes removed from him, so Jesus begins
this process of unbinding us. Piece by piece he removes
from us those things that hold us back. In this lifelong
process bad habits, bad thinking, bad experiences are
peeled away, strip by strip as we emerge to become the
person God created us to be.
From Senator Byrd's generation another very wise
nonagenarian once said that we should live each day as if
it were our last, and learn each day as if we would live
forever. This wise man also knew God's grace. A graceful
life, a grace-filled life, means that we have the ability
to change. We can confess our sin. We can turn away from
our sins. We can receive the forgiveness of God; we can
embrace new insights and new directions. We can learn and
we can grow. Throughout our lives we are being saved.
``Loose him,'' Jesus said, ``and let him go.''
And now, the third Scripture for our reflection on the
Gospel of Salvation. Whenever I visited Senator Byrd I
would read the Bible with him. I always asked him what
passage we should read, and every time he responded first
with a call to read--I would read, and he would recite--
the words of Jesus recorded in John 14. Dear family, hear
these words. They are for your comfort. Jesus said: ``Let
not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe
also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it
were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a
place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I
will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I
am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and
the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not
whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus
saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no
man cometh unto the Father, but by me.''
The Gospel of salvation means that when we depart this
life we go to be with God. Senator Byrd told me that he
was ready to depart and to be with the Lord. I know he was
eager to be reunited with Mrs. Byrd of whom he spoke every
time I was in his presence. He understood, however, and
said to me that our coming and our going are in the hands
And I am glad that God, in his providence, sent Robert
Byrd our way to Memorial Baptist Church, that for a few
years, we had the privilege of being in worship together.
Folks have often asked me, ``Wasn't it difficult to preach
with Senator Byrd in the congregation?''
People thought it was difficult because he was such an
important person that one could think that a preacher
would feel nervous in his presence. I did at first, and I
always felt honored to be in his presence, but he was
gracious to me and encouraging to me. He loved the Bible;
he loved the Gospel; he loved the church, and he
communicated his love for preachers. He soon put me at
ease. Whenever he was present I felt happy and encouraged.
I loved the fact that he walked down front and sat up
close. His presence always encouraged me.
The second reason people thought his presence could be
difficult for a preacher is that Senator Byrd was
exuberant; he was expressive. When I made a point from the
Scripture he would say, ``Amen,'' and he would say it
loudly. When I was unclear, he would ask me right there in
the service, out loud, ``Would you say that again?'' And I
would say it again, but I would make it clearer. I
remember one time I was preaching on stewardship, a not
very popular subject--money. I made the point that you
could tell what a person believed by looking at their
checkbook. Senator Byrd reached into his coat pocket and
pulled out his checkbook, and he held it up, and he
proclaimed, ``Here's mine; let's all get them out!'' I
don't think anyone present at that service will ever
forget that moment. He made stewardship exciting. I loved
preaching when he was present.
I want you to know that he asked me privately if his
participation bothered me or caused me any distress. He
would not have entered into call and response if I had
been uncomfortable with it. He was gracious, always
gracious and encouraging to me. He wanted the best
experience for the person preaching and for those in
worship. He wanted us to be exuberant and expressive, and
excited about God. When he was in worship we caught some
of that exuberance.
Was it difficult to preach when Senator Byrd was
present? My answer is, ``No. It was not difficult. Just
the opposite. Whenever he was present I felt that he made
me a better preacher.''
Most of all I was encouraged by him because I know that
this great national leader was a person of faith. He
understood and embraced the Gospel of salvation. He knew
that we are saved when we receive God's gracious welcome.
Nothing to do with our accomplishment, but all to do with
the grace of God won for us on the cross of Christ. He
knew that throughout our lives we are being saved. God is
not finished with us when we first come to know him. All
our lives we are changing and growing toward his perfect
purposes for us. Finally, we will be saved when we depart
this life and come face to face with our Creator.
Sunday by Sunday, Memorial Baptist Church when gathered
in worship prayed for God's servant, Robert. His name was
called the Sunday before he died. We are thankful to God
for him, for his life and for his witness. May we receive
from our Lord the words I believe he has heard, ``Well
done, thou good and faithful servant.'' Praise be to God.