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

Byrd stepping down from Appropriations chair


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


November 7, 2008

“To 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.


Filed under: Senate
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Answer: Send earmarks to WV. What was the question?

    November 7, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  2. america wins

    thank you for your service, enjoy your retirement.

    November 7, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  3. It begins...

    No need to worry, because BO will replace him with another Do-Nothing Washington Democratic Elite who he owes a favor to. Same old Washington, same old policies. All at America's expense.

    November 7, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  4. Mimi

    yeah, you have to wonder though if some are having just a little bit of trouble serving our new CIC.

    November 7, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  5. Laura, Boston

    Senator Byrd is stepping down as chairman of a committee not stepping aside as U.S. Senator.

    He still plans to serve on the committee and others just not as the chairman. That seems logical considering his recent health problems etc.

    I wish him well as he continues to serve the people of WV.

    November 7, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  6. Advocate50

    Farwell to the true pork barrel king. With any luck his departure will shorten the list of earmarks President-Elect Obama will be confronted with as he takes office.

    November 7, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  7. ch

    Should go to Hillary if she wants it – 18 million votes.

    November 7, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  8. Proud to be American

    Buh, bye you should have done this ten years ago

    November 7, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  9. Vegas

    I hope he takes his vast list of ear marks with him...

    Pork baby... it's all about the pork

    November 7, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  10. Rick Maryville TN

    Well this is reform already

    November 7, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  11. Don't pat yourself on the back too quick

    In the aftermath of its warm, fuzzy glow, tears of joy are shed and proclamations made by people on their knees, hands clasped, looking gratefully skyward in thanks, sobbing women on the View, cry elation for a supposed landmark election for Civil Rights, an historic campaign for the first Black President.

    While Farrankan describes Obama as the “coming new Messiah” David Gerber on CNN likens him the “Jeremiah to Martin Luther King’s Moses” (huh boy…)

    As Oprah Winfrey triumphantly proclaims “America did the right thing”,

    I seem to be the only one to notice that
    • gay people still aren’t allowed their constitutional right to free speech, to call their unions marriage, nor right to Taxation with representation and have legal marriage, that
    • the most qualified candidate, a woman, was dismissed in a media blizzard-smear campaign of misogyny, lies and phony polls, had to
    • beat her opponents in 21 consecutive debates, still loses to the most unqualified candidate in history simply because he is a man. He voted 131 times "present". We needed a Madam President, not a mr. present.

    He got more votes, for and against, than any other candidate in history. Americans remain divided more than ever.

    It’s time now for the corrupt Obama to return the favors to his corporate hedge-fund backers for the 90% of his raised 700 million, (oh, you thought it came from small donations on the internet? Ha, ha). They still own America (and Obama).

    Rahm Emanuel, the most contentious frontman Obama could hide behind,...tsk tsk...

    Now delusional with a new sense of equal rights, America remains a hypocrisy ruled by corrupt corporate bigots.

    November 7, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  12. Rob

    Senator Byrd was heard saying the following:

    "Senator Obama. I worked with Jesus. I walked with him, I broke bread with him. You, Senator Obama, are no Jesus."

    November 7, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  13. Old Geezer

    Like him or not, Byrd is an American institution. Also, he's being replaced by an 84 year old Hawaiian. That's progress?

    November 7, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  14. Tony

    Thank God!

    November 7, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  15. LyonsPhilly

    Wow. That's interesting.

    November 7, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  16. BS VA

    Congressmen don't serve the President . That's the whole point of separate branches of government. What is wrong with you?

    November 7, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  17. Lisa T

    It begins...
    Please, get a life and quit being so cynical. Government is necessary even with it's flaws. We can sit back and complain or we can do our part to make it better – I chose to try to do my part. It sounds as if you could use a little "therapy".

    November 7, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  18. mb

    A great senator to be admired and respected.
    Thank you for your service.

    November 7, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  19. IowaMom

    He sure looks good for 91!

    November 7, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  20. Karl

    Senator Inouye is a great replacement. He is a true hero , a Medal of Honor winner with great insight into the workings of the Senate.

    November 7, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  21. Linda from AZ

    There are so many people out there that have NO idea on how our government works it is sad. Get your facts right so you don't look so stupid know who appoints what and who has to be confirmed it's basic!

    It's time to working towards term limits for congress, age limits for Supreme Court and a MAJOR look at their "golden" retirements. After all we don't get retirement and health care for "working" for such a short time. Since they don't collect or pay into social security means nothing to them. This is something that "we the people" are they only ones can address. Let's throw in the fact that they vote themselves a raise it should be up to the vote of the people.

    November 7, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  22. Amit

    Of all who have made negative comments about Senator Byrd above, I wonder how many have participated regularly in the political process of this democracy, let alone performed a minute fraction of the public service Senator Byrd has. He is a person of intellect and vision who has burnished our democracy.

    November 7, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Another old goat that needs to go. McCain, Stevens, Byrd.....
    Time to impose 12 year limits.

    November 7, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  24. Kevin

    Senator Byrd is a great American, thank you for your service to our Nation. And all the negative comments, didn't your mothers teach you, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all?
    Come on, you don't have to agree with his politics, and you don't have to agree that everything he did was good. But he truly cared about this Nation. He even apologized for the mistakes of his past and he admits he's never been perfect. But he tried and did his best. Give him the credit he is due.

    November 7, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  25. Missy

    Hey "It Begins"

    Why not let your frustration and bitterness rest for a while? I've read you all over these sites, and you say the same thing over and over again. Why not let the new President Elect get his feet under him and actually PICK people before you start the hate-fest? It's not like your precious buddy Bush appointed anyone other than cronies at key positions (including but not limited to stacking the Justice Department). The least you could do is keep quiet until there's actually something to rant about! Unless, that is, you actually have something CONSTRUCTIVE to say....

    November 7, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
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