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Congresswoman Maxine Waters Remembers Senator Robert Byrd

June 28, 2010
Press Release

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) issued the following statement upon learning of the death of Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV):

"I was very saddened to learn of the passing of Senator Robert Byrd, a mainstay in the U.S. Congress for almost 60 years.

With a clear, scholarly understanding of the Constitution and both the written and the unwritten rules of the Senate, colleagues and staff often looked to Senator Byrd for guidance on procedure and the way forward. His love for and impact on the institution was clear, exemplified in one way through the eponymous ‘Byrd Rule.'

Senator Byrd was an ardent, fierce supporter for the people of West Virginia. In a state that has long known economic struggles, Senator Byrd famously and unapologetically used the appropriations process to better the lives of his constituents. And he had many friends on both sides of the aisle, no doubt due to his willingness to work with others and seek consensus.

Senator Byrd often spoke about his regret over participating in racist and anti-civil rights activities as a young man. I appreciated his willingness to publicly repudiate his membership with the Ku Klux Klan, and later his filibuster of the Civil Rights bill in the Senate. He often referred to his decade as a Klan member as the greatest mistake of his life.

Senator Byrd also deftly identified the proudest moment in his career – his 2002 vote against authorizing the Iraq War. A fiery orator, he delivered a memorable speech on the eve of the invasion. As the Chair of the Out of Iraq Caucus, I greatly appreciated Senator Byrd's outspoken opposition to the war, his concern for our men and women in uniform and his foresight into how entrenched our nation would become in this unjustified war. Senator Byrd was a great ally for our anti-war cause and for our brave soldiers.

Senator Byrd has left us, no doubt to join his beloved wife Erma and some of his dear friends, including Senator Ted Kennedy.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and staff during this difficult time."