Early Monday morning, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-WV, passed away after battling illness for several days. Byrd, who at 92 was the oldest and longest-serving member of Congress in the history of the United States, was known for his ability to bring back pork projects for his state and his fierce opposition to the war in Iraq. Idaho's U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo reflected on Byrd's service to the nation in a prepared statement Monday.
"Sen. Byrd pressed for civility, fair dialogue and respect for the traditions of the Senate every day he served here,” Crapo said. “In an era where partisanship and dividing political discourse seem to be the norm, we should remember Sen. Byrd’s efforts to maintain decorum and tradition in the operations of the Senate." Idaho's other senator, Republican Jim Risch, has not commented on Byrd's passing.
The seat Byrd occupied for 57 years will likely stay in the hands of Democrats. West Virginia's governor, Democrat Joe Manchin, is required by state law to appoint someone to fill the seat until the end of the term, which isn't until 2013. Reports have surfaced that Manchin will likely put in a temporary place-holder for the seat, and then run for it himself in 2013. Manchin promised Monday that he would not appoint himself to serve in the U.S. Senate.
Byrd was third in line for the presidency, behind Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. The Democrat was infamously known for once serving in a high-ranking position in the Ku Klux Klan, a radical white supremacy group. In the 2008 Democratic presidential primary race, however, Byrd threw his support behind now-President Barack Obama over Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY.
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