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Byrd "Under the Weather"

The Senate's leading anti-war Democrat, Robert C. Byrd (W. Va.), is ill and did not run a meeting of lawmakers this afternoon that hammered out a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the more than $120 billion supplemental spending bill for the Iraq war and other key issues.

Byrd, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was supposed to be leading the meeting of House and Senate appropriators, who crafted a compromise plan for language calling for a withdrawal from Iraq. Instead, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a member of the committee and also a member of Democratic leadership, ran the House-Senate conference committee.

Substantively, Byrd's absence made no difference to the conference, but stylistically and symbolically, the senator's long stem-winding speeches on the Iraq war have become the stuff of legend among anti-war liberals.

The conference committee approved a supplemental bill that requires benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet in order to show progress, according to The Post's Jonathan Weisman, who attended the conference late this afternoon. Even if the Baghdad government meets all benchmarks, U.S. troop redeployment would begin on Oct. 1, 2007, with a complete end to combat operations by the end of March 2008, according to Weisman.

The two chambers are expected to pass the measure later this week - setting up a certain veto from President Bush and likely a new round of negotiations.

Byrd's office put out a statement saying he felt "a bit under the weather" and wouldn't make the critical meeting.

It's the second time in the past few weeks that Byrd has stepped aside to let Murray take the public spotlight on committee affairs. Murray managed much of the debate on the Senate floor in the last week of March when the chamber passed its version of the supplemental.

Byrd, 89, won a record ninth six-year term last November. Missing work is not something Byrd - the longest-serving senator in history - does often. As his office notes on his web site: "Throughout his career, Byrd has cast nearly 17,800 roll call votes -- an amazing 98.7 percent attendance record in his nearly five decades of service in the Senate."

His statement indicated Byrd would be back in the chamber for the supplemental debate later this week. It did not indicate whether he would manage the debate on the floor.

Here's the statement from his office:

Statement from U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd
WASHINGTON, D.C.... U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., will not participate in tonight's House-Senate conference on the supplemental appropriations legislation. The following statement from the Senator was released prior to the conference meeting.
"I have been feeling a bit under the weather for the past few days. Per the advice of my doctor, I will be resting at home today. As a result, I will not be attending the conference meeting tonight on the supplemental, and have asked Senator Patty Murray to chair in my place. I look forward to getting back to work and participating in the Senate debate on the legislation later this week."

By Paul Kane  |  April 23, 2007; 5:45 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Why when a significant majority of Americans oppose the Iraq war does the Post persist in using the phrase "anti war liberals" as in this article about Senator Byrd? No wonder people do not trust the press. Surely you can acknowledge that people who support Senator Byrd for his bravery and consistency in speaking out abut this ill fated war...and others in Congress who have come to the same conclusion later...are not all "liberals". THis phrase is being used to polarize a populace who want and expect honesty from their government..and from the media.

Posted by: M. Buchmelter | April 24, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I pray for Senator Byrd's recovery. He was a maverick from the very beginning in preserving ALL Americans constitutional rights and said from the very beginning of this B---Admin. that our civil liberties were being infrigned upon! Everything he argued on the floor about (waving a copy of constitution as he eloquently spoke on the floor). He needs to be catered to in whatever ways possible to keep him afloat (and alive) while we go thru this perilous times in our government.

Posted by: Pamela | April 24, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Regarding M Buchmelter's comment.

I suppose that Paul used the term "anti-war liberals", to reflect the concept that Sen. Byrd's speeches are legendary among that group, but not necessarily the stuff of legend among anti-war moderates or anti-war conservatives.

Note, the relative sizes of those groups are not material to that reflection.

Posted by: old geezer | April 24, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I guess you would describe me as "liberal." However, on some subjects, I part company and would be critized by those you catagorize as "liberal." On the Iraq "adventure," I most strenuously join the "liberals" in opposing this trumped-up assault on people who I believe meant us no harm. If you consider each casualty having at least a dozen "collateral" victims, there is no way to even guess the extent of our recklessness on all sides.

Posted by: Milton Patrie | April 24, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I guess that is what we call decent, reasoned thought which gives positive hope to the purposes and NECESSARY efforts of government.

Posted by: Karen Budrow | April 24, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I it is grammatically correct to assume that if you are not for the war you are against it. Isn't that what anti-war means?

Posted by: Marvin | April 25, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the previous comment. If you are against the war, I think it's logical to conclude that you will be categorized as an anti-war sympathizer. I'd like to think that we're past the point where being conservative, moderate, or liberal has nothing to do with it, but dialogue from our congressmen and the media still indicate otherwise. I think it is high time we jettison notions of political partisanship and think in terms of what political change is important for our national interest today and tomorrow.

Posted by: Javiera | April 25, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse

WASHINGTON, DC 04-25-2007 today at Walter Reed things has not change at all just a simlpe white wash..It began as brief hallway encounter between a soldier at DC's Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, but turned into an emotional exchange about the medical mistreatment of reservists. It was when Cummings and his staff were attempting an early exit from a special congressional field hearing at the Center that Sgt. Charles Eggleston introduced himself

IC: I served 14 months, in Mosul Iraq, I got blown up in by an IED and multiple mortar fire.

Sgt. Eggleston, an army reservist from Bowie, Maryland who walks with a cane and a noticeable limp, reminded Cummings that he was still waiting for a reply to the letters he had sent. Almost immediately Cummings insisted they talk in private.

IC: He doesn't want you to record him

But Sgt. Eggleston said he had no problem with talking on the record

IC: I don't care, listen

Cummings smiled and nodded his head but continued to edge away, but the soldier followed him and leant in close to speak...

IC: " Eggleston, we bounced into each other in the Safeway out there in Columbia.
CUMMINGS: I'll take a look at it. [inaudible].
The way the system is set up here, it takes us back to 40's and 50's with segregation. The active duty and reservists and guard get treated in two different deals. If you are active duty, they'll stick you in front. And if you are reservist and guard, they'll stick you in the back. And that was pushed down by the damn command.
CUMMINGS: No doubt about it. What the army tells us is that it's not on our dime that you went over there and got messed up. The VA is in place to take care of that. And that's not the way it goes."

Even with permanent injuries to his back, legs and jaw, Sgt. Eggleston planned to continue his military career, perhaps behind a desk. But the red tape and delays in receiving treatment have forced him toward premature retirement just so he can access medical care at Veterans Administration facilities.

Prior to his resignation, Lt. General Kevin C. Kiley, the Commander of Army medical acknowledged concerns like those of Sgt. Eggleston at a Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing...

IC: There clearly has been a concern among reservists and National Guard soldiers that they perceive they are not getting timely enough care quickly enough.

In response, Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia challenged military brass with a government report identifying a disparity of care between reserve and active duty soldiers....

IC: We have relied upon the guard and reserve to a greater extent than I suppose ever before in the contemporary history of our military. A wound is a wound, weather it is borne by a guardsman, reservist or regular army soldier.

Warner promises to investigate the matter further. For his part, Congressman Cummings said he would look into the Sgt.'s situation. Last week, Cummings visited The Baltimore Veteran's Affairs Medical Center. He told reporters that he was impressed with the facility and the quality of care in Baltimore. But he left with concern that greater numbers of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan could add pressure and crack apart the fault lines that the Walter Reed scandal has uncovered in the military medical system.

IC: I am going to be touring my own veteran's hospital in my district and] I am going to urge every member of Congress to do the same so we can figure out how systemic these problems are.

Back in the Hallway at Walter Reed, as Sgt. Eggleston and Congressman Cummings continued their discussion, Walter Reed staff wearing civilian clothing observed the two, listening carefully and conspicuously taking down notes...

IC: The Command constantly threatens you. You talk to a reporter and you say the wrong word, that means we'll take some money out of your pocket. I will speak up for the NCO corps. What the Generals decide to do, that's their personal thing.

I'm Ben Shaw, on Capitol Hill for 88-1, WYPR.

Our reports from Capitol News Connection in Washington are made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and PRI - Public Radio International.

© Copyright 2007, WYPR

This problem has not change at all

Contact this soldier at for more infor and interviews

Posted by: just a injustice | April 25, 2007 5:47 PM | Report abuse

The last of the Jedi Knights. May the Force be with you.

Posted by: rcrtr | April 27, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

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