Senator Robert Byrd: Who Can Beat His Record?

Jeanne Sager
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robert byrd memoirSenator Robert Byrd just achieved the longest-serving Congress member record in November.

And now the nine-term Democrat is gone, dead at 92 after more than 57 years raging for West Virginia -- first in the House and since 1959 in the Senate.

It's a record that's not likely to be broken any time soon. Byrd bypassed Senator Carl Hayden's record of 56 years, 319 days in November. But Hayden has been dead since 1972.

The man in third place, the longest-ever to serve as a member of the House of Representatives, is John Dingell, who is planning to pursue his 29th term in November. In office since December 1955, the Michigan Congressman will be 84 next month.

But even beating the record, any member of Congress will be hard-pressed to make the same mark on history as Byrd.

A former member of the Ku Klux Klan, Byrd often noted he was embarrassed by what he called "the greatest mistake" in his past, and stood out as a staunch defender of the very letter of the Constitution.

He spent nearly a decade atop the influential Senate Appropriations Committee, earning a king of pork title for lobbying hard for his state -- and sending billions in federal funds the way of West Virginia.

Replacing him in the Senate is up to West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin -- a Democrat -- who can appoint a replacement to serve through the 2012 finish of Byrd's current term.

 

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