Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today in response the announcement that Senator Robert Byrd will voluntarily step down from the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee:
“Today, Senator Robert Byrd announced his decision to hand over his gavel as Chairman of the United States Senate Appropriations Committee. My Democratic colleagues and I accept his decision with tremendous gratitude for his outstanding tenure as Chairman.
“When the 111th Senate commences work in January, Senator Daniel Inouye will be the new Chairman of the Appropriations Committee. There is no question that Senator Byrd’s decision was eased by the knowledge that the gavel will continue to be in such capable hands.
“Last year, Senator Byrd cast his 18,000th Senate vote, by far a record in the history of our institution. Every day of his Senate career has been dedicated to strengthening the republic that he loves with all his heart. I know I speak for all of my colleagues when I say that we look forward to Senator Byrd’s continued leadership in the 111th Congress.”