Senator Robert Byrd Becomes Longest-Serving Member of Congress

On November 18, 2009, Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) became the longest-serving member of Congress, having served in the House of Representatives (1953-1959) and the Senate (1959-present) for a total of 56 years, 10 months, and 16 days. He broke the record previously set by Carl T. Hayden (1912-1969). On June 12, 2006, Senator Byrd became the longest-serving senator in U.S. history.

Senator Byrd is 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.

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.

Courtesy of the U.S. Senate Historical Office, here is a list of some of Senator Byrd’s notable milestones and achievements.

U.S. Senate Institutional Records

  • Longest-serving member of Congress. (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. (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 has served with a total of 423 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.)
  • Has served on a U.S. Senate Committee longer than other U.S. Senator in history. (U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, January 14, 1959-present.)
  • Only U.S. Senator to preside over more than one Senate impeachment trial. (Judge Alcee Hastings, October 20, 1989; Judge Walter Nixon, November 3, 1989.)

U.S. Senate Voting Records

  • Has cast more roll call votes than any other U.S. Senator. (Cast record-breaking vote number 12,134 on April 27, 1990, and has remained top voter since that time.) As of November 17, 2009, Senator Byrd has cast 18,585 votes.
  • 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

Has 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.)