- NAME: Robert C. Byrd
- OCCUPATION: U.S. Representative
- BIRTH DATE: November 20, 1917
- DEATH DATE: June 28, 2010
- EDUCATION: Marshall University, American University, Washington College of Law
- PLACE OF BIRTH: North Wilkesboro, North Carolina
- PLACE OF DEATH: Falls Church, Virginia
- Originally: Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr
Best Known For
Robert C. Byrd is best known as the longest-serving senator and longest-serving member in the history of the United States Congress.
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Byrd was 77 years old at the time. During this time, Byrd began to change his political views to reflect more traditionally Democratic leanings, eventually became a leading backer of civil rights and a pro-choice supporter. He also became an outspoken detractor of President George W. Bush's policies after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He opposed creating the Department of Homeland Security in 2002,
and in 2003 criticized Bush's jet-landing to announce the end of the Iraq war.
On June 12, 2006, Byrd made history by became the longest serving U.S. Senator in the history of the United States. That November, he was elected to a ninth full term in the Senate. His wife would not get to share in Byrd's joy; Erma Byrd died March 25, 2006, after a protracted illness. When Byrd became the longest serving member of Congress in history on November 18, 2009, having served more than 20,775 days, Byrd remarked on the sadness of not sharing the moment with Erma. "My only regret is that my beloved wife, companion and confidant, my dear Erma, is not here with me," he said. "I know that she is looking down from the heavens smiling at me and saying, 'Congratulations my dear Robert—but don't let it go to your head.'"
Byrd died on June 28, 2010, at the age of 92. During his tenure, Byrd was elected to more leadership positions than any other Senator in history. At the time of his death, he was the highest-ranking Senator in the majority party, known as the President pro tempore. He served as the senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, and a member of the Senate Budget, Armed Services, and Rules and Administration Committees. He had cast more than 18,689 roll call votes—more votes than any other Senator in U.S. history—and held a 97 percent attendance record in his more than 50 years in the Senate.
Byrd is survived by daughters Mona and Marjorie, as well as six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
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