Byrd proposes renaming health care bill after Ted Kennedy.

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) issued a statement today, saying that his “heart and soul weeps at the lost [sic] of my best friend in the Senate, my beloved friend, Ted Kennedy.” Byrd also encouraged Congress to carry on Kennedy’s fight by passing health care reform and naming the legislation after the late senator:

In his honor and as a tribute to his commitment to his ideals, let us stop the shouting and name calling and have a civilized debate on health care reform which I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear his name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American.

In May 2008, Byrd gave some touching remarks about Kennedy, who had just been diagnosed with brain cancer:

Other lawmakers are now invoking Kennedy’s “spirit” to continue the push for health care reform. Today on CNN, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that Kennedy’s absence is already being felt. “I think we may have made progress on this health care issue if he had been there. He had this unique capability to sit people down at a table together — and I’ve been there on numerous occasions — and really negotiate, which means concessions. And so, he not only will be missed, but he has been missed.”