Longest-serving US senator Robert Byrd dead at 92
Update: Succession process for Byrd is ‘murky’
“It’s unclear whether there will be a special election to fill the remainder of the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s (D-W.Va.) term,” Sean J. Miller reports for The Hill.
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin III (D) has the authority to appoint Byrd’s interim replacement and decide whether to call for a special election.
Manchin told the Associated Press Monday that he has no timetable for appointing a successor to Sen. Byrd. Manchin also said he has no intention of appointing himself to the seat.
The Senate campaign committees are unsure what happens next.
A spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee called the process “murky.”
(Original article follows)
WASHINGTON (AFP) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The longest-serving member of the US Congress, Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, has died at the age of 92 after almost six decades in office, his office announced early Monday.
“I am saddened that the family of US Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., tearfully announces the passing of the longest serving member of Congress in US history,” spokesman Mark Ferrell said in a statement.
He said Byrd, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan who enthusiastically supported Barack Obama’s 2008 White House bid, had died peacefully at approximately 3:00 am at Inova Fairfax Hospital.
“His absence could complicate Senate Democrats’ efforts to find the necessary support in a key test vote on moving to final passage of the financial-reform compromise,” Marketwatch noted early Monday. “West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, will appoint Byrd’s successor.”
No specific cause of death was given, but Ferrell promised that “further details will become available throughout the day.”
The senator was admitted to a Washington area hospital late last week and doctors had described him as “seriously ill,” his office said Sunday.
Byrd went to the hospital suffering from what was believed to be heat exhaustion and severe dehydration as a result of the extreme temperatures in Washington that reached the upper 90s (32-37 degrees Celsius) over the weekend, his aides said.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he had learned about Byrd’s passing with deep sadness.
“Senator Byrd combined a devotion to the US Constitution with a deep learning of history to defend the interests of his state and the traditions of the Senate,” McConnell said in a statement. “We will remember him for his fighter’s spirit, his abiding faith, and for the many times he recalled the Senate to its purposes.”
Byrd had served in Congress since January 3, 1953. In November, he broke the record for congressional service that had been set by Democrat Carl Hayden of Arizona, who served in the House and Senate from 1912 to 1969.
Byrd had several health scares in recent years, including an extended hospitalization last year that prompted speculation of his looming retirement, which never materialized.
An enthusiastic supporter of Obama’s White House bid, he has expressed regret for his past membership in the Ku Klux Klan and participating in the 83-day filibuster to delay the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlawed racial segregation.
Serving first in the House of Representatives and then in the Senate, he is the only person ever elected to nine full Senate terms.
Throughout his career, Byrd has cast more than 18,680 roll call votes — more votes than any other Senator in American history.
Byrd was born Cornelius Calvin Sale in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, in 1917.
He was only one year old when his mother died in the 1918 flu pandemic.
In accordance with his mother’s wishes, his father sent some of the children to live with relatives.
Sale Jr. was given to the custody of Titus and Vlurma Byrd, his uncle and aunt, who renamed him Robert Carlyle Byrd and raised him in the coal-mining region of southern West Virginia.
The late senator is survived by two daughters, six grandchildren and five great granddaughters.
The following YouTube video is from the Associated Press: