Byrd to voluntarily step down as chair of Appropriations Committee.

byrd.jpgSen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) announced today that he will voluntarily step down as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Jan. 6. Byrd, who is the longest-serving senator in American history, said in a statement that he made the decision “only after much personal soul searching”:

In a news release, Byrd said he decided to step down “only after much personal soul searching, and after being sure of the substantial Democratic pickup of seats in the Senate.

“I am now confident that stepping aside as chairman will not adversely impact my home state of West Virginia,” he said.

Democrats had been hoping that Byrd would “step aside voluntarily” due concerns that he was “not up to the immense challenges he would face in that job.” Byrd will be replaced by Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI)