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Senator Robert Byrd, 92, ‘Seriously Ill,’ in Hospital

U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, a Democrat from West Virginia, is in a Washington area hospital and his doctors described his condition as “seriously ill,” according to a statement from his office.

Byrd, 92, was admitted late last week, suffering from apparent heat exhaustion and dehydration, the statement said. Upon examination, doctors determined that other conditions had developed which led to his condition being described as “serious,” the statement said.

Byrd, who entered the Senate in 1959 and is the longest-serving member of the upper house in history, was hospitalized for two months last year for an undisclosed infection and a staph infection that his office said he picked up at the hospital. He was released in July.

Byrd led the Senate Appropriations Committee, which controls funding for government agencies, during Democratic majorities between 1989 and 2009. He turned over the chairman’s gavel at the start of President Barack Obama’s administration, amid questions about his health, while remaining a member of the committee. He was replaced as the panel’s chairman by Senator Daniel Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat.

As the Senate’s president pro tempore, Byrd is third in line to the U.S. presidency after the vice president and speaker of the U.S. House.

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