Senator Robert C. Byrd announced today that he'll step aside as the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Byrd, 90, has served as Chair or Ranking member of the powerful committee for two decades, and has been a member of Appropriations for all 50 years of his Senate career. He is known by some as the "King of Pork" because of his unparalleled (well...almost paralleled by Alaska's Ted Stevens) ability to bring home the bacon for his West Virginia constituents. Even a casual outing to the Mountain State will take you past a veritable smorgasboard of schools, highways, and municipal buildings funded by Byrd's earmarks and christened in his name.
Byrd's health has suffered in recent years, and lately he uses a wheelchair to get around. He says the decision to resign was his own, but it comes after weeks of Democratic murmurs about his fitness for the responsibilities of the chairmanship.
He will be replace by Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, who is a comparatively spry 84.