Some of the country’s astir salient Democrats recounted tales showcasing the erstwhile Senate bulk leader’s tenacity and modesty.
Jan. 8, 2022Updated 8:43 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON — President Biden and erstwhile President Barack Obama honored Harry M. Reid connected Saturday arsenic a loyal lad of Nevada who roseate to go a plain-spoken but pivotal person successful the Senate, wherever helium steered landmark Democratic authorities portion tolerating small vanity oregon praise.
“Harry cared truthful overmuch astir his chap Americans and truthful small what anyone felt of him,” Mr. Biden said astatine a memorial work for Mr. Reid, who died precocious past period astatine 82, astatine the Smith Center for the Performing Arts successful Las Vegas.
“He was each Searchlight and nary spotlight,” the president added, referring to the mining outpost successful Nevada wherever Mr. Reid grew up.
Along with the existent and erstwhile president, the memorial work besides included testimonials from different salient Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the bulk leader, a motion of Mr. Reid’s power connected his party. Vice President Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff, the 2nd gentleman, arsenic good arsenic Jill Biden, the archetypal lady, were besides seated successful the audience.
Each speaker, including Mr. Reid’s girl and 3 sons, spoke of his passionateness for the Senate and emotion for his location state. His lad Leif Reid noted that his begetter was specified a instrumentality of the Las Vegas-based set the Killers that helium requested that its pb singer, Brandon Flowers, sing astatine his memorial service.
Before performing Nevada’s authorities song, “Home Means Nevada,” Mr. Flowers told the assemblage a communicative of visiting the Capitol and being directed by Mr. Reid to execute the opus for Mr. Schumer.
Other speakers recounted tales of the tenacity of Mr. Reid, a erstwhile boxer, arsenic helium guided monumental Democratic victories done Congress, including a sweeping economical stimulus program successful effect to the Great Recession, a caller acceptable of rules to rein successful Wall Street and the astir important enlargement of wellness attraction sum since the Great Society of the 1960s.
“Let determination beryllium nary doubt: Harry Reid volition beryllium considered 1 of the top Senate bulk leaders successful history,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Reid became the look of Senate Democrats aft being elected by his colleagues arsenic the number person successful 2005, and past became bulk person successful 2007 erstwhile Democrats took power of the chamber. He would instrumentality connected each comers, Republican oregon Democrat, and was known for a blunt attack that occasionally got him successful trouble.
Ms. Pelosi recalled Mr. Reid arsenic a antheral of fewer words.
“And helium wanted everyone other to beryllium a idiosyncratic of fewer words,” she said.
Ms. Pelosi joined different speakers successful describing Mr. Reid’s penchant for hanging up the telephone connected his colleagues. He could not tolerate dragging retired a speech with a farewell. She described his modesty: He erstwhile unopen down her effort to observe his accomplishments by throwing him a meal enactment for his retirement.
“I don’t privation to bash it,” Ms. Pelosi recalled Mr. Reid telling her. “Save the money. Feed the poor.”
Ms. Pelosi said she ne'er heard Mr. Reid accidental “an unkind connection astir his Senate colleagues,” prompting a information cheque from Mr. Obama.
“I don’t cognize astir that, Nancy,” Mr. Obama said aboriginal arsenic the assemblage broke retired successful laughter. “But helium would enactment with them.”
After a famously hardscrabble upbringing successful Searchlight and a commencement successful authorities politics, Mr. Reid was elected to the House successful 1982 and the Senate successful 1986. He served arsenic the No. 2 Senate Democrat erstwhile Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota was the enactment leader, and erstwhile Mr. Daschle mislaid his re-election bid successful 2004, Mr. Reid rapidly outmaneuvered imaginable rivals for the apical slot.
As the Democratic leader, Mr. Reid jousted with President George W. Bush, whom helium erstwhile labeled a “loser,” implicit the warfare successful Iraq and assorted home issues. Democrats rode elector dissatisfaction with Mr. Bush to Senate power successful the 2006 elections.
In precocious 2008, arsenic Mr. Bush’s 2nd word coiled down, Mr. Reid was instrumental successful moving with the White House to stave disconnected a nationalist economical illness by steering the $700 cardinal Troubled Asset Relief Program done Congress and stabilizing the economy.
Mr. Reid took decidedly blimpish stances aboriginal successful his career, notably opposing termination and looser migration laws. But his positions shifted arsenic the demographics of his authorities changed, and helium yet became a champion of undocumented immigrants and a protagonist of termination access. Mr. Obama said that aft Mr. Reid introduced authorities to repeal birthright citizenship, Mr. Reid’s wife, Landra, swayed him connected migration by reminding him that her begetter had been a Russian immigrant.
Mr. Obama added: “Later, Harry would say, ‘I came to the realization that I was mode disconnected base. I’m truthful gladsome she righted the ship.’”
Mr. Reid encouraged Mr. Obama to tally for president earlier the 2008 predetermination adjacent though Mr. Obama was a inferior subordinate of the Senate astatine the time. And aft Mr. Obama won the White House, Mr. Reid was 1 of his astir dependable and important allies, utilizing each legislative limb astatine his disposal to triumph support of the economical stimulus measure and, astir critically, the Affordable Care Act, which memorably passed the Senate successful 2009 during a blizzard connected Christmas Eve.
“The deals Harry made to get that instrumentality done didn’t ever look pretty,” Mr. Obama said. “Whenever I would entity to a alteration helium wanted to make, whether due to the fact that of immoderate argumentation concerns oregon worries astir the optics, Harry would archer maine with immoderate exasperation successful his voice, ‘Mr. President, you cognize a batch much than I bash astir wellness attraction policy, OK? I cognize the Senate.’”
Mr. Biden, a erstwhile legislator who is present struggling to walk his ain sweeping home argumentation bill, grew animated portion describing Mr. Reid’s dialog tactics and legislature victories. “When Harry said helium was going to bash something, helium did it,” helium said. “You could slope connected it. That’s however helium got truthful overmuch done for the state for truthful galore decades.”
Democrats experienced important losses successful 2010 but held connected to the Senate, portion Mr. Reid himself survived a beardown situation from an hostile aligned with the acold right. Mr. Reid, who suffered important injuries during a location exercising mishap successful 2015, chose not to tally for re-election successful 2016 and returned to Nevada, wherever helium remained a large governmental powerfulness broker.
Mr. Obama closed his remarks with the connection Mr. Reid shunned during his telephone calls, the farewell helium did not deem necessary.
“But it is for us,” Mr. Obama said. “Goodbye, Harry.”