by Ken Ritter and Darlene Superville
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Former President Barack Obama paid tribute to the late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday as a man who “worked,” as Democratic leaders spoke on some of the most important laws of the 21st century. Reid’s influence. , from health care to Wall Street reform.
Voting at Reid’s Las Vegas memorial service was a testament to his legacy, from a childhood of poverty to becoming an influential congressman. President Joe Biden escorted Reid’s widow, Landra Reid, to her seat at the start of services, before an honor guard carried the flag-wrapped coffin to the well of a quiet auditorium.
Reed died on December 28 at home in Henderson, Nevada, of 82 complications from pancreatic cancer.
“Let there be no doubt. Harry Reid will be considered one of the greatest Senate majority leaders in history,” Biden said. Speakers spoke about Reid’s focus on strengthening health care and Wall Street reform and economic recovery in the wake of the 2008 recession. The work is credited to what is regarded as one of the most fruitful Congress sessions of modern times.
Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who described Reid as a “really honest and original character” to mourners, spoke during an invitation-only memorial.
Obama, who credited Reid for his rise to the White House, praised him.
When Reid helped pass the Affordable Care Act early in Obama’s first term, “he didn’t do it to burnish his legacy,” Obama said. When Reid was a boy, Obama explained, Reid’s family was so poor that “he didn’t even know” what health care was. When a tooth broke, his father pulled it out himself. A brother allowed a broken leg to heal on its own.
In Reid’s work in Washington, “he did it for people back home and families like himself who needed someone looking for something when no one else did. Harry got the job done,” Obama said. said.
“The thing about Harry, he never gave up. He never gave up. He never gave up on anyone who cared about him,” said Biden, who served for two decades with Reed in the Senate and worked with him for eight years when Biden was vice president.
“If Harry said he was going to do something, he did,” Biden said. “You can bank on it.”
A common and comic theme during the funeral was ‘Harry Reading’ – Reed’s habit of abruptly ending telephone conversations without saying goodbye.
“I have to tell you, every time I hear a dial tone, I think of Harry,” Biden told mourners.
Reid’s son Leif tries to explain his father’s well-known habit, a move that sometimes leaves the other person—be it a powerful politician or close family—before realizing that he is no longer Yes, kept talking for several minutes.
“I probably hung out by Harry Reid two or three times a day, at most, for 12 years,” Pelosi said.
“Sometimes I even called him back and said ‘Harry, I was singing your praises,'” Pelosi said. To which Reed replied: “I don’t want to hear it,” she said, before she heard the phone dead clicking again.
Leif Reid said it was “part of the narrative” of his father’s life, and was a gesture about saving time for the Reed family.
“When he hung up on you, maybe so soon, it’s not about him as much as he is devoted to my mom,” said Leif Reed. All four of his siblings also spoke at the memorial service.
Reid served for 34 years in Washington and led the Senate through a severe recession and Republican takeover of the House following the 2010 elections.
Harry Mason Reed covered 40 miles (64 kilometers) in high school and was an amateur boxer before being elected to the Nevada State Legislature at the age of 28. He had graduated from Utah State University and worked nights as a US Capitol police officer while attending George Washington. University Law School in Washington.
In 1970, at age 30, he was elected lieutenant governor of the state along with Democratic Governor Mike O’Callaghan. Reid was elected to the House in 1982 and to the Senate in 1986.
He built a political machine in Nevada that helped Democrats win important elections for years. When he retired in 2016 after an exercise accident at home that blinded one of his eyes, he selected former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to replace him.
Cortez Masto became the first lady of Nevada and the first Latina elected to the US Senate.
Reid’s body will be taken to Washington to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda, and another ceremony will be held on Wednesday.
The host of Saturday’s Las Vegas services, Marcus Faust, said Reed’s coffin would return to Nevada for burial on the family plot in Searchlight.
This story has been corrected to say that Obama told Reed’s father to pull his bad teeth instead of Reed’s father pulling his teeth.