Monday, June 28, 2010

West Virginia's Byrd Dead At Age 92

Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, the longest-serving senator in American history and one of its most controversial members, died Monday at the age of 92, a spokesman for the family said.

Byrd, a Democrat who served in the U.S. Senate since 1959, had been plagued by health problems in recent years and was confined to a wheelchair. He had skipped several votes in Congress in the past months.

Jesse Jacobs, a family spokesman, said Byrd died peacefully at about 3 a.m. at Inova Hospital in Fairfax, Va.

He was the oldest member of the 111th Congress and one of its most controversial. The onetime racist who wrote in 1944 he'd never serve in uniform "with a Negro" later said he'd been wrong.

Byrd's death will not affect the balance of power in the Senate. West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, a Democrat, will appoint a replacement senator to serve out the remainder of Byrd's term which ends in 2012.

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