Byrd to lie in repose in Senate chamber

The body of Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) will lie in repose Thursday in the Senate chamber he so loved during his record-setting 51-year career.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) office said the late senator will lie in the chamber from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the chaplain offering a prayer at 10:30 a.m.; the casket will be closed. The Senate is expected to take a break from legislating during that time.

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It is the first time in 51 years a senator has lied in repose in the well of the upper chamber. The last one to do so was former Sen. William Langer, a Republican from North Dakota, who died in 1959.

Former Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.), who earned broad influence and later condemnation as an outspoken anti-communist, also received the honor in 1957.

“It was not uncommon in the 19th century,” said Assistant Senate Historian Katherine Scott. “Since World War II, it became quite uncommon.”

The Senate chaplain offered eulogies for both Langer and McCarthy while their caskets rested in the chamber.

The families of deceased senators request the honor of lying in repose in the chamber. The Senate does not determine it, said Scott.

The Senate typically adjourns while the casket rests in the well, and people are allowed to enter the chamber to pay respects.

Arrangements are being made for the funeral, which will be in Arlington, Va., on Tuesday, July 6th, at the Memorial Baptist Church.

On Friday, July 2nd, Byrd will lie in state at the West Virginia Capitol building where there will be a public viewing and a memorial service. 

-- This article was updated at 4:07 p.m.