After 56 years and 320 days, Robert Byrd, the longtime Senator and former Congressman from West Virginia, has surpassed all others to achieve the longest record of uninterupted service of any member of either house of Congress. On Friday, the Dean of the Senate will celebrate his 92nd birthday. And on Monday, chances are that he'll be back at work like any other day.
Byrd was first elected to Congress in November of 1952. He was sworn into office in January of the following year, where he remained until being elected to the Senate in 1958. He's been there ever since.
Byrd has served through 12 different administrations, beginning with the last two weeks of President Harry S. Truman's term (followed by Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama). He was most recently reelected in 2006 with 64.4% of the vote, and will face election again in 2012. He has not been elected with less than 60% except for once in 1958 (his first run at the office), when he garnered 59%.
Byrd surpasses the late Senator and former Congressman Carl Hayden, the legendary Arizona legislator who served from the first day of statehood in 1912 until 1969. Rep. John Dingell, the Michigan Democrat who won a special election to suceed his father 53 years, 340 years ago, earlier this year became the longest serving member of the House of Representatives, and second only to Byrd in overall service to the Congress.