Harry Reid, the son of a Nevada miner who became one of the most powerful Democrats in Senate history, has died, his family announced Tuesday. He was 82 years old.
Reid’s family said in a statement he died Tuesday afternoon after a “four-year battle with pancreatic cancer.”
“We are so proud of the legacy he leaves on the national stage and of his beloved Nevada,” his wife, Landra Reid, said in a statement. “Harry was deeply touched to see his decades of service in Nevada honored in recent weeks with the renaming of the Las Vegas airport in his honor.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted that Reid was one of the “most amazing people I have ever met.”
“He never forgot where he came from and used his boxing instincts to fearlessly fight those who hurt the poor and the middle class,” Schumer tweeted. “He’s gone but will walk alongside many of us in the Senate every day.”
Reid was first elected to the United States Senate in 1986, after serving two terms as a congressman for the newly created 1st District of Nevada. Reid built up power in the Senate over the years, being chosen as Minority Whip in 1998 and eventually becoming Democratic Leader in 2005. He led the Senate Democrats until his retirement in 2016 due to health concerns.
Famed for his negotiating skills, Reid was instrumental in getting all 60 Democrats on board with former President Obama’s signature law, the Affordable Care Act. He attributed his support to Obamacare to his early years without access to health or dental care.
“Health care. The Affordable Care Act. I talked about it a bit,” Reid said in his farewell speech in the Senate. “It would have been wonderful if we had had something like this to help my family when we were growing up.”
Reid was born in Searchlight, Nevada, a thriving former mining town, in 1939. His father was a rock miner and his mother did laundry for brothels and casinos – and neither of them had a job. high school diploma. In his 2016 Senate farewell address, Reid said Searchlight numbered around 250 people and “had seen better days.”
Reid worked at a gas station in high school where he used the money he earned to buy new teeth for his mother, and since the town did not have a high school, he went to high school in Henderson, Nevada. Reid said he and his brother were born at home because there was no hospital, and he said he didn’t go to the dentist until he was 14.
Reid’s father, who the former senator said suffered from depression, died by suicide when Reid was 32 and was lieutenant governor of Nevada.
In basic high school, Reid met his future wife, Landra Gould, whom he was married to for 62 years.
In the Senate, Reid was not only famous for promoting issues in his home state, such as mining and the gambling industry, but also for being a staunch supporter and negotiator – in 2003 he persuaded the Republican Senator Jim Jeffords to change parties and become a Democrat. , giving Democrats a majority in the Senate.
Reid first took a leadership role in 1999 and led the Democratic opposition to the privatization of Social Security. After becoming majority leader in 2006, he spoke out more against the war in Iraq.
When Obama took office in 2009, Reid pushed through the former president’s priorities – the stimulus package, then the Affordable Care Act. It cost Reid politically: in the 2010 election, he won by less than 300 votes, according to Politico.
In 2013, Reid advocated for Democrats to remove filibuster for judicial appointments. He told the New York Times he “had no choice,” but it cost Democrats when they lost a majority in 2014. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took the opportunity to appoint judges conservatives during former President Trump’s presidency.
Reid has remained steadfast in his opposition to filibuster, saying during an event in 2020 that “it’s not a question of whether it’s going to go away, it’s only when it’s going to go away.”
Reid suffered an exercise injury in 2015, requiring him to wear an eye patch after undergoing multiple surgeries. He announced later that year that he would not be running for a sixth term. Her chosen Democratic successor, Catherine Cortezo Masto, won her seat that year.
After Trump was elected, Reid told New York magazine he won’t miss Washington. “If Hillary had won and had a Democratic majority, I really would have missed the action,” he said. “With that, no, I’m not going to miss it.”