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

“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.

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Filed under: Senate
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. WIlly Brown

    Stand by for the dirt to come out soon on KKK byrd and his democrat goons!

    November 7, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. Obama Victim

    will he take his hood with him??

    November 7, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  3. Steven

    sad day for West Virginia!

    November 7, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  4. John in WV

    GOD bless Robert Byrd. For all of you who are concerned with creating term limits let me remind you, we already have term limits. They are called ELECTIONS.

    November 7, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  5. Brenda C

    Not happy with President-elect Mutt?

    November 7, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. Former Republican in TX ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Good move on Byrd's part. Also kept this position from becoming a hot potato in the next session.

    November 7, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  7. Brian Detroit

    Setting Term Limits does not necessarily targeting individual based on age. It simply makes common sense to balance out the advantage that incumbants have and to renew democracy.

    Age itself should not be an issue as long as the individual is mentally sound.

    November 7, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. Susan in Delaware

    If McCain's too old at 72 to be pres, how can the dems think these two geezers have any idea what they're doing?

    November 7, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  9. Dianne Porter

    You served well Patriot. Shame there weren't more statesmen
    like yourself. Don't worry yourself with some of these statements
    by the most ignorant of people that have never served one day
    for their country in any capacity whether in the military, or public
    service, but of course they are always the ones to criticize.
    Pathetic really. (Laugh).

    November 7, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  10. Jonas

    Retire right away. BYRD The former KKK member. Nobody will miss you !!!

    November 7, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  11. AB

    Byrd is a Democrat. How did he chair any committee for the last 10 years, when the Republicans held control until two years ago?

    November 7, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  12. A.G.

    Wasn't he in the KKK? Does this seem to anyone else that he just wants to get away from an American Black President of the United States?

    Suddenly he is "maybe too old", but he wasnt feeling that way until AFTER a black man won the presidency?

    He's not fooling anyone.

    November 7, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  13. Kelli in WV

    I for one am sad to see Senator Byrd step down from any position he holds. Although he is 91 he is by far sharper than most of his fellow senators. He has done wonderful things for our state and I hope and pray he does many more. If the people of WV wanted him to step down he would have lost his last election. I should be so blessed to think as clearly and speak half as elequently as this man when I am in my 50s let alone my 90s.

    November 7, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  14. A.G.

    I just thought of something. He gets to retire now AND enjoy his NATIONALLY PAID FOR HEALTHCARE that we taxpayers all foot the bill for. This really stinks.

    November 7, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  15. w.l. jones

    This Democratic (Mr. Senate Bird) look good at 91 year young. ,One thing I can say Democratic a winner and this one is a pillar of the party for many years. God bless you and your Family.

    November 7, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  16. Barbara

    Senator Byrd:

    Thank you so much for your tireless service to WV and to our country. May God bless you as you continue to contribute your wisdom to our governmental process.

    November 7, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  17. Terry from Ohio

    I did not know you are called a MUTT if your half black and half white. This hurt me hearing him say this. What a way to start a new administration!

    November 7, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  18. Marianne

    God Bless Mr. Byrd from Arkansas Democrats.

    November 7, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  19. Roland

    1. it's wv not wva. #2 Did you guys think that maybe he just recognizes that he's older and can't handle all of the extra work. Why must it be about him not being able to handle Obama? Byrd has repeatedly admitted that his racist past was unacceptable and has cried openly about his shame. Can't a person change? If they can't then this nation will never ever change.

    November 7, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  20. Rob Johnson

    Byrd's earmark-heavy style of politics, which was all about bringing home the bacon to his state, wouldn't mesh well with Obama's reform agenda anyway. This is probably for the best.

    November 7, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  21. ken

    Do all of you throwing praise at Senator Byrd know that he was a one time KKK member? If he were a Republican you'd all be saying how the GOP is made up of a bunch of racists.

    November 7, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  22. CaptainObvious

    Term limits, please!! These rapidly self-embalming fossils like Byrd are way out of touch with America - and what it's like to work for a living. They're "mini-popes" seemingly with positions for life, thanks to cronyism, pork delivery and the blind followers in their states. There's a reason that the congressional approval rating is no better than Bush's... and it's those who sit there well beyond their usefulness... Stevens, Kennedy, Byrd, etc. Loitering at the public trough knows no partisanship.

    November 7, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  23. daytrader

    a 91 year old to be replace by an 84 year old

    now that's the changes democrats are talking about LOL

    November 7, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  24. Robert

    Did he give up his membership in the KKK also? Just wondering.

    November 7, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  25. Gu bye!

    Thanks for your service. Now please exit the door stage left. Leave congress now. Go home! We're waiting. OK. Just stay already. Oh..wait...we said that 10 years ago! GET OUT!!!!!!

    November 7, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
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