Senator Robert Byrd Steps Down as Appropriations Committee Chairman

U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd announced today that he will step down as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee as of Jan.

6.

First elected to the Senate in 1958, Byrd is the longest-serving senator in American history. He chaired the powerful Appropriations Committee, which doles out projects across the country, for 10 years.

In a news release, Byrd said he decided to step down "only after much personal soul searching, and after being sure of the substantial Democratic pickup of seats in the Senate.

Sen. Robert Byrd, the longest-serving senator in history, is stepping down from his cherished post as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Byrd, 90, has become increasingly frail in recent years, and the move didn't come as a surprise.

The West Virginia Democrat is a Senate icon and a legend in his own state, where he's single-handedly responsible for directing huge sums of federal largess for roads, universities, and economic development projects. It was a perk of his powerful perch as chairman or top minority member of the panel for the past two decades.

Ninety-year-old Sen. Robert Byrd, the longest serving senator in history, announced on Friday that he will step down from his chairmanship of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

Byrd will be replaced as chairman by Sen. Daniel Inouye, 84, of Hawaii.

"I believe that it is time for a new day at the top of the Senate Appropriations Committee," said Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat. "I will step away from the chairmanship ... effective January 6, 2009."

The US Senate's oldest and longest-serving member, Robert Byrd, announced Friday he was stepping down as chairman of the appropriations committee.

For the last 10 years, the 90-year-old Democratic dean from West Virginia has headed the committee which helps the government decide how to spend its money.

Byrd, re-elected for his ninth Senate term in 2006, has spent nearly 50 years as a committee member and senator, casting a record 18,000 ballots as of last year.

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.”

— Senator Byrd