Byrd on Bush: "The Senate can send you home. You better believe that"
There's not much that's glamorous about the part of covering the Senate that requires reading through hundreds of pages of Congressional Record a week. But, if you're a wonkish sort, it can be endlessly fascinating and can sometimes even yield pure gold.
Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) gave a short speech when the U.S. Senate returned from recess yesterday and the longest-serving member in Congress renewed his commitment to the Senate resuming the role it traditionally held until the Republicans took over.
"Senators and other close observers of the institution have grappled with their own ideas about the Senate seeking to highlight its unique and enduring attributes, and to explain its role in the American system of checks and balances. What is it? What is it? What is it that makes the Senate stand apart from other legislative bodies?" said Byrd on the Senate floor Monday."
"But, if the Lord wills it -- God willing, in other words -- over the next few months I plan to offer a series of addresses in which I shall sample these ideas of the Senate with some explanation of each observer," continued the 88-year-old Byrd, considered by his colleagues to be the Senate's premier authority on the body's history. "Their ideas have ranged from the necessity of the Senate to its role as a balance wheel with the "People's House," the other body. They have focused on the rules of the Senate and its civility and decorum. They have viewed the Senate as a protector of constitutional liberties, a source of stability, and a product of politics."
But here's where Byrd really kicks his philosophical speech into gear and addresses George W. Bush -- based on Bush's perceived control of the Senate, via the rubber-stamp GOP majority -- and, most importantly, broaches the subject of impeachment.
Despite more than two centuries of pressure to change and "modernize" the Senate, as an institution, it remains remarkably similar to the body created at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. It retains all of its original powers, including providing advice and consent -- yes. You said it. You better read that again in the Constitution.
It retains all of its original powers, including providing advice and consent to Presidents on nominations and on treaties, serving as a court of impeachment--you better believe it, Mr. President. The Senate can send you home. You better believe that.
If the House impeaches you, the Senate will try you. The Senate, don't forget it, serves as a court of impeachment and has an equal say with the House on legislation. The Senate has an equal say with the other body on legislation.
"If the House impeaches you, the Senate will try you." Man, I like the sound of that.
Byrd, who lost his wife of 68 years just last month, then went on to reinforce the talks he will give in the weeks ahead, saying that his words "…will suggest, the distinctive features of the Senate have survived for so long because they have purpose and will endure as long as they serve the good of the Nation."
Between that and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) lashing out at Bush today, you've got to like whatever gumption some of these guys found while they were on their Congressional break.
You can reach Bob Geiger at email@example.com