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Byrd Undergoing Physical Therapy, Anticipating Release From Hospital

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), who was hospitalized exactly one month ago for a minor infection, is currently undergoing physical therapy treatments “in anticipation of being released from the hospital in the near future,— according to a statement Monday from his office.

“His spirits are extremely high and he continues to appreciate the well wishes from all, especially the people of West Virginia,— the statement said, which also noted that Byrd, 91, is not expected to return to the Senate this week.

The longest-serving Senator was admitted exactly one month ago to an undisclosed hospital and has since contracted a staph infection. His office has declined to comment about where Byrd is receiving medical treatment.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Gov. Joe Manchin (D) is refuting a story published Sunday in the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette, which noted that the governor spoke with state Democratic Party Chairman Nick Casey and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) last week “to discuss contingencies— in the event Byrd is unable to return to the Senate.

“There was no conversation in regards to that topic whatsoever,— Manchin spokeswoman Sara Payne told Roll Call. “We’re all just praying for Sen. Byrd, and West Virginia needs Sen. Byrd and we hope to see him back at work soon.—

Reid spokesman Jim Manley declined earlier Monday to comment on the alleged conversation between his boss and Manchin.

Byrd’s statement Monday also noted that Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) will fill in for the ailing West Virginian and lead a markup scheduled for Wednesday on the fiscal 2010 Homeland Security appropriations bill.

“The need to move forward with this bill is critical,— the statement said, adding, “It is imperative that Congress provide the resources necessary to protect our nation’s homeland.—

Byrd chaired the Appropriations Committee until last year, when he voluntarily gave up the gavel after his declining health became an increasingly public issue.

Byrd was re-elected to a ninth term in 2006.

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