“A new day has dawned in Washington, and that is a good thing,” Byrd was quoted saying in The Hill. “For my part, I believe that it is time for a new day at the top of the Senate Appropriations Committee. I will step away from the Chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee effective January 6, 2009.”
Byrd is quite literally an elder statesman in the Senate; he will turn 91 this month. Democratic Sen. Daniel Inoyue will replace him as chairman of the committee, which augurs well for President-elect Obama, as the former is from his home state of Hawaii.
The position to control the flow of billions of dollars of federal largess made Byrd one of the most powerful men in Washington, where he has served since 1959, making him the oldest member of Congress and the longest-serving Senator in history. Many buildings, roadways, and bridges in his home state of West Virgina bear his name.