Senate Dems Look to Prod Byrd Out of Key Chair

West Virginian, 90, has been in the Senate since 1959
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Oct 29, 2008 9:06 AM CDT
Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., presides over the committee's hearing on markup of the 2008 supplemental appropriations bill, which included spending in Iraq, on Capitol Hill in Washington.    (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)
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(Newser) – Senate Democrats are considering an attempt to remove 90-year-old Sen. Robert Byrd from his position as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, the New York Times reports. Byrd is the longest-serving senator in history. His committee controls one-third of all federal spending, and Dems worry he’s not up to the job.

The committee chair will have to help implement a new president’s agenda, while appropriating for a nation embroiled in two wars and a recession. Many in the party admire the West Virginian for his stand against the war, and in favor of congressional prerogatives, but that may not be enough to keep him in the highly prized chair. Byrd pushed back in a recent statement, criticizing those he said were “fomenting this intrigue about musical chairs in the Senate.” Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, at a sprightly 84, would be in line to succeed Byrd.