Robert Byrd, an unacknowledged king of earmarks, who has scores of federally financed projects named after him in his home state of West Virginia, is routinely considered the senate's unofficial historian. He will play an important role in judging the legitimacy of any tactics ObamaCare advocates use to pass their legislation. He even has a reconciliation rule named after him:
Under "The Byrd Rule," named for Senator Robert Byrd, reconciliation is limited to budget issues. The rule states: "A provision shall be considered extraneous if it produces changes in outlays or revenues which are merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision." [Senate Parliamentarian] Frumin will handle Republican challenges regarding such questions as what's "merely incidental," "extraneous" or even a "provision"?
* In private and high-stakes meetings known as "Byrd baths," Frumin will take a look at these and other questions. Segments of a bill that are eliminated are called "Byrd droppings."
* Frumin would make the calls, but not make the rulings. The Senate's presiding officer -- Vice President Joe Biden, Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Byrd or another designated Democratic senator -- would rule after getting Frumin's advice. The last time a ruling by the presiding officer was overturned on a Senate vote was October 3, 1996. There have been other attempts, but they were defeated.
Byrd now has some choices to make. Will he honor his reputation or sully it,as so many of his fellow Senators have, with backroom deals and bribery? If it is the latter, one can rest assured that the payoff will be larger than black lung buyoffs .
One can see the placard producers in West Virginia revving up the production lines to be ready to pour out the nameplates to attach to the buildings named after him.