Golden Anniversary

Sen. Byrd Marks a Milestone

Posted January 10, 2003 at 1:17pm

Sen. Robert Byrd, the venerable West Virginia Democrat, marked 50 years in Congress on Tuesday. The Senator, now 85 years old, was first sworn into the House on Jan. 3, 1953. Byrd served for 17 days under President Harry Truman and posed for this 1953 freshman-class photo after President Dwight D. Eisenhower was inaugurated. (He’s third from the left in the front row, wearing the bow tie and standing next to Missouri Democratic Rep. Leonore Sullivan.) Byrd was sworn into the Senate on Jan. 3, 1959. His Congressional career has spanned 11 presidents, including Truman. The Senator’s office marked the milestone with a news release quoting Byrd: “In this institution, partisanship is not supposed to rule. Patriotism is.” Byrd also warned about ceding too much power to the president: “Members almost treat a president as if he were royalty and should govern unquestioned.” Only three Members of Congress have served longer than Byrd: former Rep. and Sen. Carl Hayden (D-Ariz.), with 56 years and nine months combined in the House and Senate; former Rep. Jamie Whitten (D-Miss.), with 53 years and two months in the House; and former Rep. Carl Vinson (D-Ga.), with 50 years and two months in the House.