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Sen. Byrd of West Virginia hospitalized

Image: Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia
Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia listens to testimony from defense secretary nominee Robert Gates during confirmation hearings conducted by the Senate Armed Services Committee in December, 2006. Karen Bleier / AFP - Getty Images file
/ Source: The Associated Press

Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia was hospitalized Tuesday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center after complaining of back pain after a fall at his home, his spokesman said.

Byrd, 90, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the nation’s longest-serving senator, was staying in the hospital overnight for observation, said spokesman Jesse Jacobs. It was not immediately clear whether he had suffered broken bones.

Jacobs said Byrd fell at his Virginia home Monday night. He came to his office Tuesday and was on the Senate floor to vote for an Indian health bill. But after noticeably wincing in pain, Byrd’s staff advised him to see the Capitol physician, who “smartly for a 90-year-old man advised him to go to Walter Reed for observation.”

Byrd, who as Senate president pro tempore is third in line to the presidency, walks haltingly with two canes. Due to his frail condition, some Senate Democrats reportedly explored ways to replace him as Appropriations chairman, but he continues to hold the post.