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Sen. Byrd Back on the Senate Floor

Updated 1:51 p.m.
By Paul Kane
Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), who hasn't been on Capitol Hill since his May 15 hospitalization, made a surprise return to the Senate today as part of what his office said will be a gradual return to work.

Byrd, 91, appeared for a noontime vote to oppose President Obama's proposal to eliminate funding the F22.

After a roughly six-week hospitalization, Byrd was released to his home earlier this month. His aides gave no indication of when he would return to the Senate, and gave no hint prior to today's appearance that he would be here today.

With an aide helping him in his wheelchair, Byrd greeted Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). The Democratic leaders appeared surprised to see Byrd, the longest serving senator in the history of the republic.

Byrd voted no, and then quickly left the floor.

Shortly after 1:30 p.m., Byrd's office issued a statement explaining his return, saying that he "is expected to ease back into his duties as Senator" with the goal of being healthy enough to cast votes in upcoming showdowns on health-care reform and Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

The statement also mentioned climate change legislation, which isn't expected to be considered until much later this year.

Senior Democratic aides said the leadership team was given about 30 minutes' notice of Byrd's return. The top vote counter for Democrats, Majority Whip Durbin, said he was not sure how often he could count on Byrd's vote. "I can't tell. He still looks like he's recuperating, and I wish him the best," Durbin told Capitol Briefing.

By Web Politics Editor  |  July 21, 2009; 12:31 PM ET
Categories:  Dem. Leaders  
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Who led Mr. Byrd onto the Senate floor? Who pushed the "NO" button for him? Mr. Byrd has had his day. Now is the time for him to resign so that WV can have two functional senators.

Posted by: mortified469 | July 21, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

mortified) WV could accomplish the goal by replacing their Bozo Junior Senator!

Posted by: walnutst | July 21, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

this is a sham. he is not representing his constituents.


Posted by: visionbrkr | July 21, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Does Senator Bryd plan to show up to vote yea for healthcare reform?

Posted by: Citi_Street | July 21, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

This speaks loudly and clearly for term limits!!

Wonder who purchased this vote?

This is a disgrace to West Virginians; it make good people and a good state look bad.

Posted by: dotto | July 21, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Leave the man alone. He has the longest running senate career in our history. He intends to keep it that way. He'll be senator until his terms expires.

Posted by: mtravali | July 21, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Retirement with Dignity....That should be the goal, and the result. Let's give it a try Senator Byrd.

Posted by: benighse | July 21, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Byrd uses the Senate like his personal nursing home, paying nothing for 24 hour nursing and personal care on out tax dollars. He has no decency whatsoever either - returning to vote AGAINST reduction in spending. This guy is an embarassment, bent on milking us taxpayers for his total personal upkeep. Would that all taxpayers had his extraordinary healthcare and other benefits. What's wrong with West Virginians? Is this their idea of responsible representation???

Posted by: Minnie1 | July 21, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

How much "work" does this guy perform on a Senate workday? Is he really "working" or actually retired and getting full-time nursing care and full-time pay while "on the job"? I think we all know the embarrassing answer but only West Virginians can fix it, and they're going to return him to "office" another 12, 18 years.

Posted by: Minnie1 | July 21, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse


Wonder who purchased this vote? /end quote

Alliant Tech Systems has a plant that makes rocket engines for military jets, in Rocket Center West Virginia.

Posted by: johnwott | July 21, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I hope he's not to sick to fulfill his obligations as a Kleagle in the KKK. Even though he's been a member for 50+ years I'm sure he realizes there are attendance requirements.

At the very least he needs to do a write in vote regarding who the next house warming party is for.

So exactly why have DimoCRAPS re-elected this guy 200 times knowing he served as a top officer in the KKK?

Oh, that's right - he's a DimoCRAP; the only standards they have are double standards.

Posted by: Bcamp55 | July 21, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Re: "Who led Mr. Byrd onto the Senate floor? Who pushed the "NO" button for him? Mr. Byrd has had his day."

Senators don't have a "no" button like the House does. Senator Byrd would have voted verbally by saying "aye or no" (or with a thumbs up/thumbs down hand gesture) like every other Senator when his name was called in the roll call.

Posted by: jeisrael | July 21, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

So quickly Mortified forgets his idol Strom Thurman. Is that is mortifying or Alzheimer's?

Posted by: bradcpa | July 21, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

We do have term limits. It's called the ballot box. I don't like the Senator either, but if you want him out, vote him out.

Posted by: common-sense-voter | July 21, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

It's time for Congress to move into the 21st century and have MCs (Members of Congress) represent their constituents from where they are in the world. We've moved beyond horse and buggy travel and communication. It's past time to retire the "who is in town vote planning" that can, intentionally or otherwise, deny some their representation.

Posted by: Valjean1 | July 21, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Senator Byrd is alive and well and from his comments last year I would say of sound mind. I personally respect him for his honesty and generosity of spirit.

I can remember Senator Byrd helped my family out when I was a boy and we first moved to Washington and the house we were hoping to move into fell through. Such an act of kindness from a person we'd never met impressed me and I shan't forget it. Why people on here want to show their disrespect for him I can't fathom. Could it be a matter of which party he supports?

Don't tell me y'all are from West Virginia.

Chris Brown in Hamburg

Posted by: chrisbrown12 | July 21, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I left WV when I was 17, so I never voted for Byrd. That was 30 years ago.

If the people of WV elect him, that's their choice.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | July 21, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Byrd didn't vote against cutting spending, he voted YES to the defense of our country. How about people stop looking for handouts via Stimulus packages, that way our President can stop writing checks that our grandchildren have to cash.

Posted by: fanohock1 | July 21, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

As I recall, Strom Thurmond slept through his entire last term in office. He would occasionally wake up, stumble to his feet, grope a nearby woman, then sit back down and go to sleep again. (I hear Hillary Clinton had a terrible time getting the old man smell off of her.)
He also lived in the hospital for about 3 years due to his extremely fragile health, but he didn't retire until he was 99.
Robert Byrd is of sound mind, if not body, and if the voters of WV approve of his performance, that's all that matters.

Posted by: katn1084 | July 21, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Byrd knew on Day One that a war in Iraq was a cooked up deal by Bush/Chaney. He had the guts to be one of the very few who voted NO. He's old, he's frail, but he's no fool. The Senate is sadly based on a 'seniority system'. That's why WV votes for him. He can steer a share of federal spending to WV by his sheer power as the most Senior Senator. He should retire now though....I'm a former West Virginian and I sense/smell he's being 'handled' by his 'handlers' much as Howard Hughes was.

Posted by: mosthind | July 21, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

this guy is everything that defines a politician.

Posted by: pofinpa | July 21, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Bcamp55... just because you used to poop your diapers, does that mean you still poop your diapers? You're referring to something that was a fact more than 50 years ago. Intelligent people grow and learn from their mistakes. But then, I don't expect you to know that. Uh Oh... PU, it stinks in here!

Posted by: denroth | July 22, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

fr Bcamp55:

> hope he's not to sick to fulfill his obligations as a Kleagle in the KKK. Even though he's been a member for 50+ years I'm sure he realizes there are attendance requirements....

Senator Byrd is NOT a kkk member, and hasn't been for YEARS. Read your US history, and grow UP.

Posted by: Alex511 | July 22, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Republican and I'm glad that Senator Byrd was still able to make the vote. The people of WV want him to represent him and he is willing to serve so who are any of us to tell them in WV anything. Power is for the People with Liberty to all!

Posted by: carribou | July 22, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

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