Senator Robert Byrd is Elected Majority Whip

He became majority whip, or the second highest-ranking Democrat, for six years beginning in 1971.

Mr. Kennedy did not pay much more attention to details than Mr. Long had, and Mr. Byrd continued to do much of the whip’s work. He described their relationship as “enmity.” In 1971 he set out to line up the votes to surprise Mr. Kennedy and oust him. With a deathbed proxy from Mr. Russell, he won, 31 to 24.

In 1971, he became the majority whip, beating incumbent Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., by seven votes.

In 1967, he was elected secretary of the Democratic Conference, the number three party leadership position. Senator Byrd made himself indispensable by his attentiveness to legislative housekeeping: helping draft legislation, scheduling bills for debate, delaying votes.

Four years later, he chose to run against the incumbent majority whip, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts.