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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Administration Remarks On Passing of Senator Robert Byrd

Senator Robert Byrd (D- WVA) died Monday.  At 92, he was the longest serving member of Congress in U.S. history.

President Obama and Vice President Biden share their thoughts on the passing of Senator Robert Byrd

President Obama:  Throughout his 51 years, the longest tenure of any member in Congress in the history of the United States, Robert C. Byrd was a tough, compassionate, and outspoken leader and dedicated above all else to making life better for the people of the mountain state -- his state, the state of West Virginia. He never lost sight of home. He may have spent half a century in Washington. But there’s a guy -- if anybody wondered -- he never, never, never, never took his eye of his beloved mountain state. And we shall not -- to paraphrase the poet -- we shall not see his like again. And the Senate is a lesser place for his going."

Vice President Biden: "As we used to say in my years in the Senate, if you’ll excuse a point of personal privilege here for a moment, a very close friend of mine, one of my mentors -- a guy who was there when I was a 29-year-old kid being sworn into the United States Senate shortly thereafter; a guy who stood in the rain, in a pouring rain, freezing rain outside a church as I buried my daughter and my wife before I got sworn in, Robert C. Byrd. He passed away today. He was the -- we lost the dean of the United States Senate, but also the state of West Virginia lost its most fierce advocate and, as I said, I lost a dear friend.

Byrd was related to Harry F. Byrd Sr. who is named after the highway that extends to Winchester, Virginia, also known as Route 7.

In a meeting at the White House, a press pooler reported that President Obama was asked whether Senator Byrd's passing would affect financial reform passage in Congress. 

He responded by saying, "I'm concerned about the fact that a giant in the Senate and a personal friend of mine passed away. I don't think about that in the context of financial regulatory reform. I'm confident that, given the package that was put together, that senators, hopefully on both sides on the aisle, will recognize that it's time we put in place rules that prevent taxpayer bailouts" and "that we don't have a financial crisis that will tank the economy."

The president also remarked that he thinks there will be "enough interest in moving reform forward that we will get this done."

President Obama called Byrd's career "unparalleled", and added that Byrd "helped to transform the institution of the Senate."

"Through his own personal transformation, he embodied the kind of changes in America that have made us more equal, more just, more fair. And he will be sorely missed."

Both President Obama and Vice President Biden are scheduled to attend and make remarks at the senator's funeral July 2 in Charleston, West Virginia.

The president has issued the following Proclamation:
"As a mark of respect for the memory and longstanding service of Senator Robert C. Byrd, President pro tempore of the Senate, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset on the day of his interment. I further direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
I also direct, that in honor and tribute to this great patriot, that the flag of the United States shall be displayed at full-staff at the White House and on all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and Naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions on Independence Day, July 4, 2010. I further direct that on that same date, that the flag of the United States shall be flown at full-staff at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations."

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