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Public Statements

Commending Robert C. Byrd

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KOHL. Madam President, today we honor Senator Robert C. Byrd for 20,744 days of service in the Congress of the United States. That feat of endurance is laudable, but certainly not surprising.

This is the man who has memorized volumes of poetry and analyzed libraries of great books, histories, legislation, and speeches. This is the man who attended law school at night while serving in the House of Representatives and then the Senate. This is the man who remembers every important date--Veterans Day, Mothers Day, the Fourth of July--with a carefully crafted, masterfully delivered oration on the Senate floor. This is the man who has held the most powerful positions in the Senate and has faced the most powerful adversaries on its floor and in Committee.

No one should be surprised, then, that this is the man who has served longest in the United States Congress.

But we are not just here to commemorate the days Senator Byrd has served. We are here to honor the service he has rendered.

Senator Byrd has served West Virginia. In those 20,744 days representing them, Senator Byrd has spent countless hours--in the Appropriations Committee, on the floor, in the offices of his colleagues--fighting for his people.

Senator Byrd has served the Senate. When I was first elected, Senator Byrd schooled me, as he has almost everyone in this body, in the nuances of Senate rules and traditions. He sat on the floor when I gave my first speech and made me understand the gravity and privilege of being a U.S. Senator. He has written the definitive, four-volume history of the Senate while earning himself a place in those pages alongside Senators Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Robert Lafollette.

And Senator Byrd has served this country. He carries our Constitution next to his heart and wields it like a sword against those who put politics above principle. He has defended the Senate's constitutional powers in front of the Supreme Court, arguing passionately against the line item veto--and in front of the world, arguing for the Senate's proper role in issues of war and peace.

In years of working with Senator Byrd, I have had the honor of getting to know a true American patriot and call him friend. Senator Byrd has never let down the people of West Virginia and steadfastly upheld our beloved Constitution. He will forever be known not just as Congress's longest standing member but as its strongest standing member. I thank him--as he taught me, through you, Mr. President--for his friendship and his service to the Senate, to the Constitution, and to the United States of America.


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