Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) called former Sen. Robert Byrd (D., W. Va.) one of the great "senators and historians" Monday in remarks on the Senate floor:
BARBARA BOXER: It doesn't make sense. And then as if that isn't enough, they have another stone in their other hand called default, so just as you're beginning maybe to see the light of day, you hit yourself again and say to the world America could actually default on its debts. And the full faith and credit of the United States is in question. Robert C. Byrd, one of the great senators and historians, always tells us to read the Constitution. He told us to read the Constitution. So in my desk, I have a couple of copies and every once in a while, I'll look at it, and in that Constitution, it's pretty clear — and I'm not quoting verbatim, but it says that the debts of the united states shall not be questioned.
Byrd famously joined the KKK at the age of 24 and proceeded to rise to the lofty rank of Exalted Cyclops, leading his local chapter.
The former West Virginia senator also refused to join the military during World War II out of fear he may have to serve with African Americans, or as the great senate historian put it: "race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds."
Boxer went on to extol Byrd for encouraging his Senate colleagues to read the Constitution.