Byrd wants health bill renamed for Kennedy

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), the only senator to have served longer than the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), mourned his friend Wednesday, saying his "heart and soul weeps."

Byrd said he hoped healthcare reform legislation in the Senate would be renamed in memoriam of Kennedy.

"I had hoped and prayed that this day would never come," Byrd said in a statement. "My heart and soul weeps at the lost of my best friend in the Senate, my beloved friend, Ted Kennedy."

Byrd's wistful statement focused on the work accomplished with Kennedy during decades together in the Senate, and called on the healthcare bill before Congress to be renamed in honor of Kennedy.

"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," Byrd said.

Byrd, who has himself suffered infirmities keeping him from active participation in the Senate in recent months, famously wept when his younger colleague Kennedy fell ill with brain cancer last year.

Those emotions were again on display in Byrd's statement this morning.

"God bless his wife Vicki, his family, and the institution that he served so ably, which will never be the same without his voice of eloquence and reason," Byrd said. "And God bless you Ted. I love you and will miss you terribly."

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