November 7th, 2008
02:37 PM ET
14 years ago

Byrd stepping down from Appropriations chair

ALT TEXT

Sen. Robert Byrd, 91, is stepping down as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. (Getty Images/File)

(CNN) - West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd is relinquishing his chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he announced Friday.

Byrd, 91, has served in the Senate since 1959 and is the longest serving senator in the chamber's history. He has chaired the Appropriations Committee for the last 10 years.

"A new day has dawned in Washington, and that is a good thing. For my part, I believe that it is time for a new day at the top of the Senate Appropriations Committee," Byrd said in a statement. "I will step away from the Chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee effective January 6, 2009."

"I want to stress that this is a decision I made only after much personal soul searching, and after being sure of the substantial Democratic pickup of seats in the Senate," he also said. "I am now confident that stepping aside as Chairman will not adversely impact my home state of West Virginia."

Full statement after the jump

STATEMENT OF SENATOR ROBERT C. BYRD (D-W.Va.)

November 7, 2008

β€œTo everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.”

Those Biblical words from Ecclesiastes 3:1 express my feelings about this particular time in my life.

I have been blessed to have had the honor to represent the people of West Virginia in the United States Senate for 50 years. I have been honored to lead the Senate as its Majority Leader for 12 years.

I have been privileged to be a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee for 50 years and to have chaired the Committee for ten years, during a time of enormous change in our great country, both culturally and politically. I have learned that nothing is quite so permanent as change. It is simply a part of living and should not be feared. To be serving in the Senate at such a momentous time in our history fills me with enormous pride. I endorsed President-elect Obama because I believed that we had taken the wrong course both at home and abroad. I am delighted with his victory. I was an early critic of the war in Iraq, as was the President-elect, who decried this war even before he was running for a United States Senate seat. I wish our new President every success with his commitment to unite us as one people.

A new day has dawned in Washington, and that is a good thing. For my part, I believe that it is time for a new day at the top of the Senate Appropriations Committee. I will step away from the Chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee effective January 6, 2009.

I want to stress that this is a decision I made only after much personal soul searching, and after being sure of the substantial Democratic pickup of seats in the Senate. I am now confident that stepping aside as Chairman will not adversely impact my home state of West Virginia.

God willing, I will continue to serve on the Appropriations Committee. I will continue to chair the Homeland Security Subcommittee, and I will work to help my state and the people of our great country in those roles.

Senator Daniel Inouye has stood in line for many years and now his time has come. He is my friend. He is a genuine American hero. He will be a skillful and fair Chairman of the Appropriations Committee because he is a man of outstanding character and great wisdom.

I thank my colleagues and the staff on the Committee for their dedicated work and their years of support in challenging times. I thank the people of West Virginia for continuing to put their faith in me. I thank God for the long life He has granted me and for the opportunity He has given me to assist this great country through long service in this magnificent institution, the United States Senate. I look forward to the years ahead and to making a contribution to a better, stronger America. No mortal could ask for more.

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Filed under: Senate
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. N. S. Huntsville, Al

    thank you for your service GOOD BYE

    November 7, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  2. gt

    A TRUE HOMER .... KING OF EAR MARKS

    November 7, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  3. FreeNLovIt

    Thank You. You are a GREAT example of change. I heard you are a fierce supporter of the Constitution. I am an admirer. You voted against the war πŸ™‚

    November 7, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  4. Nadine

    He's 91 years old! The mind might be willing but the body is not able. This nation has to move forward to the future or this country will be lost!

    November 7, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  5. Jazz

    This is a surprise.

    November 7, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  6. John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

    Thank you for your life of service!
    (...but didn't CNN report convicted Senator Stevens of Alaska as the longest serving senator just last week?)

    November 7, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  7. Barbara in NC

    Bless your heart, you old rascal. You've been good for WV and the country – rest now.

    November 7, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  8. Bruce

    Well it shows some good judgement...perahps he also needs to consider resgining...he is old and not in good health, and this may the first step in a change for WVA.

    November 7, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  9. American Taxpayer

    Thank God..

    November 7, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. FreeNLovIt

    Dear Obama,
    Please pick Clarke as your Secr of Defense. With his experience as NATO Commander, he will serve this country well and be able to give you great advice.

    November 7, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  11. Obama 08

    Time for a change!!!

    November 7, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  12. Ian Minneapolis, MN

    Meow...50 years is a long time! He looks good for his age though

    November 7, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. Mark L.

    In the words of the Great, Legendary Southern Rock Band: Lynrd Skynrd, and I quote, "Ohhhh Fly....High....Oh Free 'Byrd' yeah...."

    November 7, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. KC

    Some say we are to move forward however Obama is looking at policies by FDR to get the country out of this mess......hmmm....more like we are going backwards. If McCain was too old to run for President then this guy should have been kicked to the curb a long time ago....funny how descrimination is only allowed by the Dems.

    November 7, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  15. chico in VA

    A true statesman and loyal Democrat. Senator Bryd can see that CHANGE has come and his best way to support that is by stepping down respectively and allowing a younger, vibrant Dem to step on in. I salute you sir.

    November 7, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  16. Ron L

    BRAVO.. it is time for NEW ideas and new leadership.

    November 7, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  17. Travis

    Sen. Byrd the people of WV have much to thank you for. Thank you for being a wonderful public servant.

    November 7, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  18. dizizi31

    Good bye after 49 years it's time to go. Why didn't you mentor other WV politians with young and fresh ideas. Same ole garbage.. looking after self then state then country.

    November 7, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  19. Cheryl

    Byrd should be retired from the Senate. Time for Change. Inouye is no spring chicken. Given how old Inouye is, Reid had better get another Senator warming up. Aren't there any young Democrats in the Senate?

    November 7, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  20. Brian NY

    That guy is the poster child for the term limits argument, with Ted Kennedy being a close second.

    November 7, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  21. Tech Recruiter

    Thank you for your dedication and service to this country Senator Byrd.
    Your life and integrity expemplify the core values that our constiution was founded on.

    November 7, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  22. Va4Obama

    i like how he said he would step down after being sure of the democrats pick up of seats. that's funny.

    November 7, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  23. stp

    Respect, - Giving up that kind of power is not easy, and that has to be recognized and commended.

    November 7, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  24. Biff

    I agree. Time for new leadership. Like Emanuel who has good financial experience. 16 months on board of freddie mac during 2000 and 2001. He earned that $260,000.

    November 7, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  25. No Way, No How, No Mccain

    The longest a senator should serve is 12 years. 40 year too long for one person to be in office. Let him step down.

    November 7, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
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