by Lisa Mascaro | The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Former Sen. Harry Reid was remembered as a “great leader” on Wednesday as colleagues and friends gathered in the US Capitol to pay tribute to a hardened Democrat who broke out of poverty in a dusty Nevada mining town. He had risen to the most powerful position. Senate.
Reid lay stateside in the Capitol Rotunda while Vice President Kamala Harris, senators and others attended a ceremony that was as brief as his own dry-humored style of hanging up the phone instead of saying a long goodbye. Reid, who had pancreatic cancer, died last month at the age of 82.
“Harry Reid made the world a better place,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California.
“Watching him leadership and legislators was like seeing a master at work,” said Pelosi, who worked side by side with him when he was the top two Democrats in Congress. He called Reid “a great leader of great integrity”.
Reid served longer in Congress than anyone in his Battle Bourne state and was the Senate majority leader with two presidents. He led the Senate during one of its more consequential legislative sessions, securing economic reform bills during the Great Recession and President Barack Obama’s landmark health care legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., asked the new senators to explain Reed’s sudden, soft-spoken leadership style.
“Although Harry spoke softly, what he said took on the force of thunder,” Schumer said.
Schumer said Reed never forgot the struggles of the families and places he came from and believed that the government had a moral obligation to ensure Americans had opportunities to improve their lives. “Something has shaped the functioning of this building like our dear friend of Nevada,” he said. “Few people have dedicated their lives to people’s work like Harry did.
The service was largely closed to the public under COVID-19 protocols, although former colleagues, employees and others were allowed to visit during the day. He was only the 15th senator to receive the honor; His coffin rests on the catapult used for Abraham Lincoln.
Harris did not speak during his visit, but stopped at the coffin in tribute, as did Republican leaders in Congress, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California.
President Joe Biden has called Reid a “great American” who “seeed the world’s challenges and believed it was within our ability to do good, do right.”
Biden, Obama and others paid tribute during a funeral service in Las Vegas last weekend, recalling Reed’s spirited wit, distaste for Washington’s social scene and fearless approach to governance.
The few words Reed said were often flamboyant and furious. He was unafraid to take on presidents (he called George W. Bush “losers”), criticize the fossil fuel industry (“coal makes us sick”) or declare the war in Iraq a “loser”. . He titled his 2008 autobiography “The Good Fight”.
Impressive in retirement, Reid said Biden should give his new presidency just three weeks to try to work with Republicans. If not, Biden should be forced to change the Senate’s filibuster rules to allow him to pass a simple majority of elections and voting rights legislation and other priorities, Reid said.
“The time is going to come when he has to go in and get rid of the filibuster,” Reid told the Associated Press.
In tough discussions with the Senate this week over changes to the filibuster to advance election and voting legislation ahead of Republican objections, Schumer leaned on Reid’s legacy as “manager of the Senate.”
“He also knew that the Senate had to adapt to changing times,” Schumer said.
Reid was born in the desolate mining town of Searchlight. His father was a hard-rock miner who committed suicide. Her mother did the laundry for the Bordellos at home. (Reid and the other children would swim in the brothel pool.) Searchlight was a place that, he said, “had seen its better days.”
There was no church in the city, his family had no religion. But a picture of President Franklin D. Roosevelt hanging in the Reed House would influence his political career.
Reed drove about 40 miles to attend high school and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as he made his way through college and law school. An amateur boxer, he once punched his future father-in-law after he was denied a date with Landra Gould, who would become his wife. They have been married for 62 years.
During Wednesday’s ceremony, Landra Reid donned a black hat, which her husband often wore in his final years, as she sat in the rotunda with the couple’s five adult children. As she approached the coffin, she put the cap under her under the capitol dome, before putting her hand in a kissing goodbye.
First elected to the House in 1982 and re-elected in 1984, Reid served 30 years in the Senate, including a decade as Senate Democratic leader.
Along the way, Reid rewrote the map of Nevada by expanding public land, stopping the planned Yucca Mountain nuclear waste outside Las Vegas; and achieved national monument status around artist Michael Heizer’s “City” installation in the desert. He quietly ensured federal funding to research UFOs.
A man of few words, Reid often wrote notes instead—for family, colleagues, and a Nevada student advocate who had reached out to changes in immigration law. He supported the DREAM Act and Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to protect young immigrants without legal status from deportation in America.
As his power grew, Reid built a Democratic legacy for his state with Nevada’s early presidential party. He left behind a state party apparatus sometimes known as the “Reed Machine” for its enduring political power to elect the next generation of Democratic leaders.
After an exercise accident at home, and with Democrats back in the Senate minority, Reid announced he would not seek re-election in 2016.
In his farewell speech to the Senate, he acknowledged that he had done things that “probably not many people would do.” But he took his advice to those wondering how he made it from Searchlight to Washington.
“I didn’t make it because of my good looks. I didn’t make it because I’m a genius. I made it because I worked hard,” Reid said. “Whatever you want to try to do, make sure you work as hard as you can to do what you want to do.”