Own Ill Health Doesn't Keep Byrd From Voting on Reform

92-year-old Dem brought to Senate floor via wheelchair
By Will McCahill,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2009 10:00 PM CST
Own Ill Health Doesn't Keep Byrd From Voting on Reform
Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., seen being wheeled from the Senate after a series of votes yesterday.   (AP Photo)

His own battles with ill health haven’t kept Democrat Robert Byrd from making it to the Senate for key milestones on the long road to the health-care reform vote scheduled for tomorrow morning. The 92-year-old—wheelchair-bound and with a live-in nurse after a recent hospital stay—has only added to his legend in the process, colleagues tell the New York Times. “When he comes onto the floor and the members cheer and his face lights up, it just makes our day,” Sen. Charles Schumer says.

“We see someone who is a giant and who is not as well as we would like to see him,” adds Sen. Frank Lautenberg, at 85 the body’s second-oldest member. “It’s pretty tough, pretty tough. But Bob has a place here.” And Majority Leader Harry Reid, often needing every vote he can get, lets Byrd’s staff know well ahead of time when he’ll need the country’s longest-tenured senator ever on hand.
(More health care reform stories.)

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