- The Washington Times
Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, died Tuesday. He was 82.

His death was first reported by the Nevada Independent website and then confirmed by Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, Mr, Reid’s successor as Democratic Senate leader.

Harry Reid was one of the most amazing individuals I have ever met,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement posted to Twitter. “He was a boxer who came from humble origins but he never forgot where he came from and used those boxing instincts to fearlessly fight those who were hurting the poor & the middle class … He’s gone but will walk by the sides of many of us in the Senate every day.”

Jon Ralston, CEO of the Nevada Independent and the reporter who first broke Mr. Reid’s death, called him “probably the most important elected official in Nevada history.”

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Just two weeks ago, Las Vegas had renamed its airport after Mr. Reid, shedding the old name “McCarran International Airport.”

After two terms in the U.S. House, Mr. Reid was first elected to the Senate in 1986 and served five terms, ascending to leader of the Democratic caucus in 2005, a post he held until his retirement in 2017.

“The little boy of Searchlight has been able to be a part of a changing state of Nevada,” Mr. Reid said in his farewell Senate floor speech in December 2016. “I’m grateful I’ve been a part of that change.”

As Senate majority leader for the first six years of President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House, he shepherded through the closely-divided chamber such bills as the 2009 stimulus bill, the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and the Dodd-Frank financial-regulation bill.

In a development Democrats came to rue during the Trump years, Mr. Reid invoked the “nuclear option” to push through judicial nominations with a simple majority vote, rather than the filibuster-breaking 60-vote requirement.

Mr. Reid said the precedent would not apply to Supreme Court justices, but Republicans promptly retaliated when they took control of the chamber by saying that it would apply and cementing a 6-3 conservative majority on the high court.

As a form of constituent service, he also blocked for years the construction in Nevada of the proposed Yucca Mountain federal nuclear waste repository.

A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mr. Reid is survived by his wife Landra Gould, a daughter and four sons.

• Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com.

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