Robert Byrd Now Longest-Serving Legislator Ever

By the senator's count, his career spanned 20,774 days
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 18, 2009 8:39 AM CST
This Oct. 27, 1958 file photo shows Rep. Robert C. Byrd. On Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2009, Byrd will become the longest serving member of either house of Congress.    ((AP Photo, File))
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(Newser) – West Virginia Sen. Robert C. Byrd has become the longest-serving lawmaker in congressional history, a milestone to be marked today with a Senate resolution. "I look forward to serving you for the next 56 years and 320 days," Byrd said, adding that he was sorry his late wife Erma was not there with him. "I know that she is looking down from the heavens and saying, congratulations, my dear Robert—but don't let it go to your head." It was unclear whether Byrd would be able to attend today's session.

Setting records is old hat for Byrd. Since June 12, 2006, Byrd has been the longest-serving senator and later that year he was elected to an unprecedented ninth term. His colleagues have elected him to more leadership positions than any senator in history. He has cast more than 18,000 votes and, despite fragile health that has kept him from the Senate floor during much of this year, has a nearly 98% attendance record. But that long career has contained some embarrassments—like his opposition to the Civil Rights Act and onetime Klan membership. Friday will be his 92nd birthday.