This might not be so good for WV's share of the federal dollars that flow into our state for economic and community development projects. What do you think?
By Paul J. Nyden
Staff writer of the Charleston Gazette
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.
"I am now confident that stepping aside as chairman will not adversely impact my home state of West Virginia," he said.
Over the years, Byrd played a critical role in sending money back to the Mountain State -- more than $1 billion since 1995. That money funded university medical centers, paved highways, expanded airports and built dams to control floods. Dozens of projects around the state bear his name because of the money he helped get to build them.
Last week, the Washington Web site Politico.com reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was looking to move Byrd, 90, out of the Appropriations Committee chairmanship.
Byrd reacted angrily, as he had with similar reports previously. "I am disappointed that, according to press accounts, the Majority Leader is talking to others about the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee,'' he said in a statement released by his office. "This is the sort of Washington back-room gossip which ill serves the Democratic Party in a year when Democratic unity should be paramount.''
On Friday, Byrd said he hopes to continue serving on the Appropriations Committee and chairing its Homeland Security Subcommittee. "I have been blessed to have had the honor to represent the people of West Virginia in the United States Senate for 50 years. I have been honored to lead the Senate as its majority leader for 12 years," he said.
"To be serving in the Senate at such a momentous time in our history fills me with enormous pride," Byrd said. "I endorsed President-elect Obama because I believed that we had taken the wrong course both at home and abroad. I am delighted with his victory."
Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, will replace Byrd as Appropriations Committee chairman.
Inouye, Byrd said, "has stood in line for many years and now his time has come. He is my friend. He is a genuine American hero. He will be a skillful and fair chairman of the Appropriations Committee because he is a man of outstanding character and great wisdom.
"To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven," Byrd said, quoting Ecclesiastes. "I thank the people of West Virginia for continuing to put their faith in me. I thank God for the long life He has granted me and for the opportunity He has given me to assist this great country through long service in this magnificent institution, the United States Senate."
-but I'm sure Sen. Inouye won't be sending $1 billion dollars our way anytime soon....
Senator Byrd you have done WV a great service in your longstanding dedication and support of our state.