Byrd Calls Colleagues in Bid to Hold On to Appropriations Post

Posted April 9, 2008 at 1:51pm

Senate Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) has begun making strategically placed calls to Senate Democratic leaders and fellow appropriators to shore up support for him to remain atop the powerful committee, several Democratic sources confirmed Wednesday.

The calls began shortly before Roll Call reported Tuesday that senior Senate Democrats were discussing whether the ailing 90-year-old Byrd should keep his position on the spending panel as Congress takes on the $100 billion-plus supplemental war spending bill later this month. The Democrats discussed the sensitive topic during their regularly scheduled leadership meeting Tuesday morning.

According to the sources, Byrd has placed at least a handful of calls to his fellow Democratic Senators, vowing that he will be more vigorous in his stewardship of the Appropriations Committee. Byrd, the longest-serving Senator, has been in and out of the hospital in recent weeks, and his health has been the subject of rumors for months.

Tuesday’s meeting was described as the first in what would be a series of high-level Democratic talks about Byrd’s future in leadership. No decisions were made over how or even whether Byrd should be displaced.