Byrd Leaves Appropriations Committee

Robert Byrd stepped down from the Appropriations Committee, on which he has served FIFTY YEARS, citing his advanced age.  He’s being replaced by relative whippersnapper Daniel Inouye, a sprightly 84.

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)

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.

Byrd’s announcement today provides a graceful ending for him and Democrats to what had become an increasingly tense situation over his ability to manage the panel given his age and failing health. After protecting Byrd earlier this year from calls for his ouster, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had been prepared to force the issue, when the party met to organize for the 111th Congress this month, but had always hoped that the chairman would act voluntarily first without being pushed.

I’m not sure jumping knowing that you’ll be pushed if you don’t quite counts as “act[ing] voluntarily first” but I’m sure Reid will take it.

It’s mildly amusing that his valedictory used words that most people recognize, not from Ecclesiastes, as a folk song popularized by the Byrds before I was born but after he joined the Appropriations Committee.

And, goodness, half a century is long enough to keep any job.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Congress, US Politics, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Brett says:

    So ends the reign of the great Pork King of West Virginia.

  2. Patrick says:

    They replaced an old man with … an old man?

    Change you can believe in.

  3. Triumph says:

    Let’s remember, Byrd rode with the KKK. He probably is quitting because of the news circumstances vis a vis the Presidency.

  4. just me says:

    When is his term up? Is he intending to run again? He looks awfully frail in that photo.

    My guess is that it is the best thing for the committee-although I can’t help but see the humor in replacing him with an almost equally old man.

  5. Eneils Bailey says:

    The Byrd flew away, in his white robe, crosses a-blazing, and the black Raven squawking “Nevermore.”

  6. Eneils Bailey says:

    I hate to plagiarize, thank you, E.A.Poe.

  7. tom p says:

    Eneils… that was too good.

  8. Eneils Bailey says:

    I do believe that every living creature on God’s earth has a purpose.

    We will all enter into that moment in time where we realize that God has provided us with the opportunity to do the best that we can.

    There’s no perfect human beings on this earth, neither I nor Senator Byrd. If we were all perfect, we would not be blessed with the torments and pleasures of a conscience.

    Senator Byrd, like myself has put more miles behind him than he has to travel before him.

    Politically, I oppose almost every thing his political ideology instructs him to do. He is a fellow human being, and if you ever make other things more important than that, you need some help.

    His end is near, mine will approaching in a few years.

    There’s a lot more things that are more important than what you believed, try, for instance , what you did.

    I have to think we will all get there; and the goodness in each and everyone of us will be recognized.

    Gotta believe, He will get in; on probation. And then like me, he will become a chancre sore on the nuts of heaven. Big deal, we have all done more bad than good. and I have excuses for what I did, hope he has the same.

  9. G.A.Phillips says:

    Hell,
    Obama still needs a Press Secretary.

  10. B. John Wagner says:

    His state kept sending him back because they were spoiled to his shameless and selfish abuse of power. Hopefully in time he’ll be regarded for what he is, the epitome of what is wrong with American politics, and the poster-boy for term limits. His fellow members of the senate only humor him because of his position to hold sway over too much power. Good riddance to him and his enormous ego…Not a great statesman, but rather a very small man that put himself above country.

  11. tom p says:

    Senator Byrd, like myself has put more miles behind him than he has to travel before him….He is a fellow human being, and if you ever make other things more important than that, you need some help.

    His end is near, mine will approaching in a few years.

    Eneils, beautifully said. As one who recently passed the Rubicon (50), I too know that I have more miles behind me than before me.

    I have to think we will all get there; and the goodness in each and everyone of us will be recognized.

    Indeed…

  12. […] an important part in the U.S. Senate, but why was a former KKK Kleagle known to use the n-word ever placed in charge of the Appropriations Committee? Anyway, he’s stepping down from his seat, citing his age, to […]