Democrat Byrd's staff clings to Appropriations chair
The Senator's diminished capacity troubles some Dems.
By Mark Kilmer Posted in Archived | Robert Byrd | Senate Appropriations Committee — Comments (4) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Preceded in this capacity by Senator John Stennis (D-Mississippi, deceased), Senator Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) became chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee in 1989. Now, despite his advanced age (90) and diminished capacity, he will not leave.
Senior Democratic senators privately considered Tuesday Sen. Robert Byrd's capacity to handle his spot at the top of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, but the 90-year-old lawmaker won't be stepping down from the demanding job, his office told CNN.
Roll Call first reported the discussions by several Democratic senators, and a Democratic aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to CNN the thrust of the newspaper report.
"There are some who have concerns," the aide said. "Ahead of the appropriations season, some people have concerns which leaked out of a meeting."
It seems that his staff covets the power.
Jesse Jacobs, Byrd's spokesperson, said this:
"Once again, it appears that Washington insiders are practicing what they do best — petty rumor mongering," Jacobs said in a statement.
The Democratic aide speaking on condition of anonymity explained that Patty Murray of Washington did most of Byrd's work on the committee last year and will probably continue to do so as Byrd lingers and dodders his way around the nation's business. The infirmities of age are no doubt an unjust reward for a life well lead, but there is a time capacities diminish.
Is this a case of, as one commenter put it, "5 cans short of a 6-pack"?
CNN asked famed nazi hunter Dick Durbin about Byrd's capacity. And he said only: "Not talking about it." But last June, Byrd himself said:
I will continue to work until this old body just gives out and drops.
He reads his speeches on the Senate floor from sheets (no pun intended) with type so large that it seems to go about three-sentences per, and I cringe as he shakes, fearing the ole man will drop one and lose his place. Why, he could be waxing about Q. Fabius Maximus Rullianus, drop a few sheets (again, no pun) and skip ahead to M. Livius Drusus.
His staff might want to cling to power, and this is an embarrassment to the Dem Party: just note Durbin's terseness. One way to get rid of him is to get his staff to agree to sign him on as Barack Obama's veep pick. It would certainly balance the ticket.
Alas, though, it would thwart the Senator's staff in their bid to pave over the last remaining bit of the State of West Virginia and name it after their boss.