Ken Hechler remembers Sen. Byrd
June 28, 2010 ·
West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd is being remembered today in Congress, as well as across the state and nation.
Ken Hechler was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1958, the same year that
Byrd was elected to the U.S. Senate.
Hechler says Byrd was the leader for the West
Virginia Democratic delegation, holding weekly
meetings to set their legislative agenda.
Hechler and Byrd didn't always agree on that agenda.
Hechler says they differed in opinion on civil rights legislation. Byrd
filibustered reform in the 1960s, but Hechler says he apologized many times for
making those votes.
"Those apologies came from the heart," said Hechler.
Byrd was also referred to as a prince of pork for his ability to
bring federal dollars to West Virginia, but Hechler says that never bothered West Virginians.
"[They] took it as a compliment."
Senator Byrd's office estimates that he directed more than
$17 billion of federal aid to the state during his political career.