At approximately 9:10 on Tuesday morning, emergency crews including three fire engines, two ambulances, and several uniformed police officers were dispatched to the home of West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd, the 91-year-old former Senate Majority Leader and the longest-serving Senator in history. Byrd's senior spokesman says that the Dean of the Senate suffered a fall, and that to take extra precautions, the Senator was taken to a hospital to be checked out. The spokesman said that Byrd will not be admitted, and explained that Byrd simply stood up a little too fast, prompting him to lose his balance.
With his health deteriorating in recent years, Byrd has been away from the Senate floor for much of the 111th Congress. In May, he was hospitalized with a minor infection, but remained under doctors' care for two months. He's been recovering at his McLean, Virginia home since his release in July. He visited the floor of the Senate most recently in September, to deliver a tribute to his late friend, Senator Ted Kennedy. Though he stands from time to time, he has largely been relegated to a wheel chair.
Byrd- now the President Pro Tempore of the Senate- was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1952. He was reelected to that seat twice before being elevated to the US Senate. In total, he has stood for election 14 times in West Virginia, and has never lost.
Byrd is the eldest member of the Senate, and has served longer than any Senator in United States history. Should his service continue another 59 days, he will have served longer than any Congressman (House or Senate, or a combination of the two) in American history, surpassing Arizona Senator Carl Hayden. He's currently slated reach that milestone on Saturday, November 21, 2009.