On June 28, 2010, Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), the longest-serving Member of Congress, passed away. Senator Byrd was 92 years old. Senator Byrd was considered the “father” of the Teaching American History Grants program at the U.S. Department of Education. Since its inception in fiscal year 2001, nearly $1 billion in federal dollars have been spent to raise student achievement by improving teachers’ knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of American history.
A child who was in the first grade when the program started in 2001 would now be a junior in high school. So it is no exaggeration to say Senator Byrd’s love of American history has been passed on to an entire generation of America’s school children. Among his many accomplishments, that is one of his greatest legacies.
Courtesy of the U.S. Senate Historical Office, here are some of the milestones of Senator Byrd’s career:
Beginning in 1980, and over the next ten years, Senator Byrd delivered more than one hundred floor speeches detailing the history of the U.S. Senate.
U.S. Senate Institutional Records
- Longest-serving member of Congress, with 20,996 days (57 years, 5 months, 26 days). (On November 18, 2009, Senator Byrd surpassed the service record of Carl T. Hayden to become the longest-serving member of Congress, with 20,774 days of service.)
- Longest serving U.S. Senator in history, at 18,805 days (51 years, 5 months, 26 days). (Senator Byrd had served 17,327 days in the U.S. Senate on June 12, 2006—making him the longest serving U.S. Senator in history.)
- Only person elected to nine full terms in the U.S. Senate.
- Since January 3, 1959, Senator Byrd served with a total of 424 senators.
- Presided over the shortest session of the U.S. Senate in history. (6/10ths of a second, February 27, 1989)
- Presided over the Senate for the longest continuous period in history. (21 hour, 8 minutes, March 7-8, 1960)
- Served on a U.S. Senate committee longer than any other senator in history. (U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, January 14, 1959-June 28, 2010)
U.S. Senate Voting Records
- Cast more roll-call votes than any other U.S. senator, at 18,689. (Cast record-breaking vote number 12,134 on April 27, 1990)
- Cast 4,705 consecutive votes—the third highest consecutive vote total in U.S. Senate history. (Behind Senator William Proxmire [D-WI], with 10,252 consecutive votes, and Senator Charles Grassley [R-IA], who cast his 5,400th consecutive roll call vote on Feb. 9, 2009.)
U.S. Senate Leadership
Held the most leadership positions in the U.S. Senate (secretary of the majority conference, majority whip, minority leader, majority leader, and president pro tempore.