CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "The gates of heaven opened wide early yesterday morning," Rahall said. "West Virginia lost a faithful son. The Senate lost a father's watchful eye. I lost my mentor and close friend.
"Sadly, but surely, we will not see the likes of Robert C. Byrd pass our way again.
"He came from humble beginnings," Rahall said. "But he was wealthy beyond belief with richness of values, all instilled in him by his adoptive parents."
House Majority Leader Steny H, Hoyer, D-Md., said, "Byrd was a giant in terms of character. He grew in the course of his life, a mark of his being a great man. ...
"He grew intellectually, culturally, but did not leave his base," Hoyer said. "People who did not have power, people who did not have positions, were not forgotten."
Rep. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va., said, "Coming from very modest beginnings, the man from rural Raleigh County rose to become a lion of the Senate. His path is truly emblematic of the American dream."
Capito praised Byrd's efforts to rally the state's Congressional delegation to save the National Guard's C-130 airplanes at Yeager Airport and to back safety legislation after the January 2006 tragedy at the Sago mine.