Harry Reid, late Senate leader, is remembered as "man of action"

WASHINGTON (AP), -- Former Senate colleagues and Presidents laud Harry Reid, longtime Majority Leader, for his political legacy which included expanding health insurance coverage for millions of Americans as well as helping to secure an economic aid package for the country and a banking overhaul in response to 2008's financial crisis.

Harry Reid, late Senate leader, is remembered as "man of action"

They also remember a politician whose harsh and combative words often irritated his political rivals and sometimes his friends. His abrupt style, a Nevada Democrat, was exemplified by his unceremoniously hanging up the telephone without saying goodbye.

According to Landra Reid (his wife of 62-years), Reid, 82 died Tuesday in Henderson, Nevada from complications from pancreatic carcinoma.

In a proclamation, President Joe Biden stated that the U.S. Flag will be flown at Half-staff at the White House as well as other federal buildings on Reid's internment day. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak issued the same order for his state. Already, the flag at U.S. Capitol was lowered. Reid's family has yet to announce plans for a memorial service.

Biden called Reid the greatest Senate majority leader in American history.

Biden stated in the proclamation, "He was an action man and a man who kept his word -- guided faith, loyalty and unshakeable resolve."

Reid was a successful behind-the scenes worker during his 34-year Washington career. During the presidencys of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Reid was majority leader. This period saw a chaotic time that included a severe recession and the Republican takeover.

After an eye injury, Reid was left blind in one eye and he retired from the workforce in 2016. In May 2018, Reid announced that he was being treated for pancreatic cancer.

His legacy is closely tied to Obama's in many ways. Obama wrote to Reid before Reid died, saying that he would not have been president if Reid had not supported him.

Obama stated, "As diverse as we may be, I think we both saw some of ourselves in one another -- a couple who had defied all odds and knew how take a punch. And cared about the little guy."

Republicans mentioned Reid's hardiness and tenacity while noting that they disagree with him on many issues.

"The nature Harry's and mine jobs led us into frequent, sometimes intense conflict over policy and politics," stated Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky senator Republican leader. "But I never doubted Harry was doing what he truly believed was right for Nevada, and our country.

John Boehner (Republican House Speaker), said that Reid and he disagreed on "many things, sometimes quite famously." We were always open with one another. This honesty was a bond that was formed over the years when we were out of public service.

Reid was born in Searchlight (Nevada). Reid's father, an alcoholic, died at the age of 58. Reid's mother was a bordello laundress. He grew up in an isolated cabin with no indoor plumbing. He traveled 40 miles (64 km) by hitchhiking to Henderson Basic High School, where he met his wife. The couple joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Utah State University.

By working nights as a U.S. Capitol Police officer, the future senator was able to complete George Washington University's law school in the District of Columbia.

Reid was elected to Nevada Assembly at 28 years old. He was 30 years old, making him the youngest governor of Nevada.

Reid was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982. He served in Congress for longer periods than any other person in Nevada history.

He was elected Senate majority leader in 2007. His efforts to get Nevada on the political map were credited with moving the state's caucuses from January to February at the beginning of the presidential nominating period.

Reid was responsible for directing hundreds of millions of dollars to Nevada. He is also credited with nearly blocking construction at Yucca Mountain, outside of Las Vegas, of a nuclear waste storage facility.

Reid's moderateness meant that he was not politically secure in his home state and could not be trusted in an increasingly divided Senate. Democrats grumbled at Reid's votes for the Iraq War Resolution in 2002 and a ban on partial-birth abortion, which Reid later admitted was his greatest regret.

He voted against many gun control bills. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Connecticut in 2013, he pulled a ban on assault weapons from Democrats' gun control legislation. He said that the package would not pass without the attached ban.

Reid's Senate was particularly irritating to members of both the Republicans and Democrats of the House. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), then-House Speaker, tried to force Obama's health reform bill through the House in 2009. A different version of the bill passed the Senate. The reconciliation process failed long enough for Republicans and they were able to use it as an election-year weapon. They used it to attack Pelosi and portray the legislation as a power grab by the big government. Obama signed the legislation into law on March 2010.

However, voters angered at the recession and inspired to some extent by the small-government tea parties, quickly swept Democrats out of their House majority.

Reid took action in 2013 as well to amend the Senate's filibuster rules. He also lowered the threshold for advancement from 51 votes to most executive and judiciar nominees. However, he did not take any action for the Supreme Court.

McConnell did more when Republicans were the majority. He lowered it to 51 votes for Supreme Court nominations, too. This allowed Republicans to install three Supreme Court candidates over Democratic objections.

Reid, in his last months, spoke out for eliminating filibuster. He called the Senate a "legislative cemetery" and not a deliberative entity.

He wrote that the filibuster had become an anti-democratic tool used by the minority to silence people's will in the Las Vegas Sun.

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