Robert C. Byrd
has been called a conservative when it comes to preserving all that is
time-tested and good in the American system. But, he was labeled a
progressive in favor of change when change was needed.
When he became
chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he said he welcomed the
challenge afforded him because it gave him the opportunity to become
West Virginia's leading industry. He certainly did that -
bringing billions of federal dollars into the state. Many of the
projects for which he secured funding have preserved the past.
Others, however, show that he stayed abreast of current technologies and
their impact on economic development.
recognized that, if West Virginia wanted to move from coal to a high-tech economy, the state needed to build an infrastructure - better water
and sewage facilities and roads. He worked in congress to secure
funding for these projects and many more. He was also instrumental in bringing high-tech industries to West
Virginia. He secured funding for high-tech educational
opportunities for young people, especially in the areas of biometrics
and health care.
Senator Byrd said he
became a senator in order to serve all West Virginians. Senator
Harry Reid (D-Nevada), in describing Robert Byrd, has said, "It has
been a great example for all of us to never lose sight of the fact that
you are elected by the people from your State and the people from your
State should have priority." Senator Byrd made it a priority early in
his career to determine what issues West Virginians believed were
important. As a result, he focused much of his time and energy
in Congress on issues to improve the quality of life, education, health
care, transportation and employment. Retired Senator Sam Nunn
(D-Georgia) has said of Senator Byrd, "It has been said that great men are
like eagles. You find them one at a time, soaring alone, using
their skill and their strength to reach new horizons. Such a man
is Robert Byrd."