FACTBOX-Reaction to death of U.S. Senator Byrd

June 28, Mon Jun 28, 2010 1:12pm EDT

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June 28, (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, who was the longest serving member of the Congress ever, died on Monday.

Following are some of the statements on the life and career of the 92-year-old West Virginia Democrat:

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: "He was as much a part of the Senate as the marble busts that line its chamber and its corridors. His profound passion for that body and its role and responsibilities was as evident behind closed doors as it was in the stemwinders he peppered with history. He held the deepest respect of members of both parties, and he was generous with his time and advice, something I appreciated greatly as a young senator."

SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL: "Senator Byrd combined a devotion to the U.S. Constitution with a deep learning of history to defend the interests of his state and the traditions of the Senate. We will remember him for his fighter's spirit, his abiding faith, and for the many times he recalled the Senate to its purposes."

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: "A very close friend of mine, one of my mentors, a guy who was there when I was a 29-year-old kid being sworn into the United States Senate. Shortly thereafter, a guy who stood in the rain, in the pouring rain, freezing rain outside a church as I buried my daughter and my wife before I got sworn in ... We lost the dean of the United States Senate, but also the state of West Virginia lost its most fierce advocate and, as I said, I lost a dear friend."

SENATOR CHRIS DODD, A DEMOCRAT: "He never stopped growing as a public official, and was a man who learned from his mistakes. He was more than a friend and colleague. He was a mentor to me and literally hundreds of legislators with whom he served over the past five decades."

HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: "Throughout his historic career in the House and Senate, he never stopped working to improve the lives of the people of West Virginia. While some simply bore witness to history, Senator Byrd shaped it and strove to build a brighter future for us all."

SENATOR ORRIN HATCH, A REPUBLICAN: "On the issues, we were frequent opponents, but he was always gracious both in victory and defeat. This is a man who earned his law degree while serving in the Senate, and who had a prodigious knowledge of ancient and modern history."

SENATOR JAY ROCKEFELLER, A DEMOCRAT: "Senator Byrd came from humble beginnings in the southern coalfields, was raised by hard-working West Virginians, and triumphantly rose to the heights of power in America. But he never forgot where he came from nor who he represented, and he never abused that power for his own gain."

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM, A REPUBLICAN: "Senator Byrd was a valuable ally and worthy opponent. He will be viewed by history as one of the giants of the Senate."

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