June 28, 2010
Robert Byrd , the U.S. senator who set records for longevity in Congress while becoming known for his powerful oratory and mastery of legislative rules and traditions, has died. He was 92.
Byrd’s death was confirmed by spokesman Jesse Jacobs  today in a phone interview. Byrd was hospitalized last week for heat exhaustion and dehydration.
The death of Byrd, a Democrat from West Virginia, leaves the Democrats in the Senate with 59 votes, one shy of the number necessary to overcome Republican opposition to financial regulatory reform and the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan . However, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin , a Democrat, will appoint a replacement for Byrd, leaving the seat in Democratic hands.
The longest-serving member of Congress in history, with six years in the House followed by 51 years in the Senate, Byrd was a throwback to the days when lawmakers delivered fist-pounding speeches and unapologetically steered money to their home state.