Byrd had been absent from the Senate for several weeks, due to illness. He spent part of the time in a hospital.
But last week, Byrd was back on the Senate floor to cast his first vote since May. It involved a defense bill on which, according to The Associated Press, Byrd voted in favor of producing more F-22 fighter planes.
While that vote was an important one for national defense, even more critical issues will confront Congress during the next several weeks. Among them are President Barack Obama’s proposal for a national health care system and the ‘‘cap and trade’’ bill.
We are not aware of Byrd’s stance on the health care proposal being negotiated now. However, he has expressed his concern about ensuring that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care. He also has been a strong advocate for responsible government, and has a record of voting only for health care measures he believes are fiscally and socially prudent.
Byrd’s stance on the ‘‘cap and trade’’ pollution bill is known. He already has said that the bill as passed by the House of Representatives on June 26 is unacceptable.
The senior senator for West Virginia has a record of thoughtful analysis of proposed legislation, and its effects on his constituents. While he is a staunch Democrat, he has not hesitated to challenge party leaders, including presidents, when he believes legislative proposals are bad for our state and the nation.
We believe he will continue that tradition of responsible governing as he joins other senators in discussing health care, ‘‘cap and trade’’ and other important issues.
We think we reflect the views of many Mountain State residents, then, in welcoming Byrd back to the Senate. His strong voice of reason is important now, not just for West Virginians but for all Americans.