Senate legend Robert Byrd, approaching 91 this month and hailing a “new day in Washington,” said he would voluntarily give up the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee with the new Congress.
By David Rogers, John Bresnahan
In this Sept. 11, 2008 file photo, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va, waves a flag during a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington in remembrance of the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks. Byrd, the longest-serving senator in history, is stepping down from his cherished post as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.(AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)
“To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven,” said Byrd, who had fended off earlier challenges this past spring and summer. “Those Biblical words from Ecclesiastes 3:1 express my feelings about this particular time in my life.
“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,” Byrd continued in a statement released by his office. “I have learned that nothing is quite so permanent as change. It is simply a part of living and should not be feared.”
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), who is 84, will take over for Byrd on the powerful panel, which oversees hundreds of billions of dollars annually in federal spending. Byrd will officially hand off the gavel on Jan. 6, 2009.