28 Years Ago in TIME

Robert Byrd, 88, became the longest-serving U.S. Senator ever last week, passing Strom Thurmond's mark of 17,326 days. The West Virginian has wielded huge influence in Washington for decades

This year much of what [President] Carter gets from Congress will be largely due to Byrd, a night-school lawyer who is a first-rate legislative technician. His job is to act as the Senate's traffic cop, controlling the flow of legislation and debate. A master of the Senate's rules and precedents, Byrd hustles through an endless round of meetings with committee chairmen, powerful Senate barons and rebellious mavericks, trying to head off trouble...

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