The Virginia House of Delegates got a surprise visit Wednesday.

Former U.S. senator John Warner, right, waves to the House as he and Del. Lacey Putney (I-Bedford) leave the well of the House chambers (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

“We’re here to to mark this point in Virginia’s history,’’ Warner said.

Warner and Putney (I-Bedford) attended Washington and Lee University together, and the former senator joked that the two men sipped a little moonshine when they were there. Or maybe it wasn’t a joke?

“It’s a historic to have the two of year here together,’’ House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford).

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), a former delegate, also made an appearance.

The House passed a resolution honoring Putney, 83, chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, who sponsors his chamber’s version of the budget and is a key player in negotiating the differences between the spending plans of the House and Senate.

Putney, a lawyer elected as a Democrat who supported school segregation in 1962, represents Bedford City and Bedford and Botetourt counties. He left the party five years later and joined the Republican caucus as an independent in 1998.

He briefly served as speaker in 2002 after House Speaker S. Vance Wilkins Jr. resigned, following revelations that Wilkins had paid a staff member to keep quiet about “unwanted sexual advances.’’

In 2007, SpeakerWilliam J.Howell (R-Stafford) tapped Putney to lead the Appropriations Committee, though the move was a bit controversial because he is not a Republican.