US presidents, lawmakers mourn former Senate ‘giant’ Harry Reid

Biden says Reid always kept his word’; Obama says former boxer left world a ‘better place’; Pelosi recalls his ‘immense courage and ferocious conviction’

Sen. Harry Reid, Democrat-Nevada, leans on a stack of documents pertaining to campaign finance reform during a Capitol Hill news conference on Dec. 3, 1996. (Dennis Cook/AP)
Sen. Harry Reid, Democrat-Nevada, leans on a stack of documents pertaining to campaign finance reform during a Capitol Hill news conference on Dec. 3, 1996. (Dennis Cook/AP)

US and Nevada leaders were mourning former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who died Tuesday at 82.

Landra Reid said her husband died peacefully after a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer.

Reid, a Democrat, led the Senate under two presidents, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama. He retired in 2016.

US President Joe Biden eulogized the former lawmaker, saying, “Harry Reid and I grew up on different sides of the country, but we came from the same place where certain values run deep. Loyalty. Faith. Resolve. Service.”

“During the two decades we served together in the United States Senate, and the eight years we worked together while I served as Vice President, Harry met the marker for what I’ve always believed is the most important thing by which you can measure a person — their action and their word. If Harry said he would do something, he did it. If he gave you his word, you could bank on it. That’s how he got things done for the good of the country for decades. … May God bless Harry Reid, a dear friend and a giant of our history,” Biden said.

“You were a great leader in the Senate, and early on you were more generous to me than I had any right to expect. … As different as we are, I think we both saw something of ourselves in each other — a couple of outsiders who had defied the odds and knew how to take a punch and cared about the little guy. … The world is better cause of what you’ve done,” former president Barack Obama wrote in a letter he said he sent Reid before his death.

“He was tough-as-nails, strong, but caring and compassionate, and always went out of his way quietly to help people who needed help,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York. “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 and the middle class. … He’s gone but he will walk by the sides of many of us in the Senate every single day.”

Then US-president Barack Obama gets a hug from then Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada., as Reid’s wife Landra Gould watches, left, at Cheyenne High School in North Las Vegas, Nev., Oct. 23, 2016. (Susan Walsh/AP)

“To say Harry Reid was a giant doesn’t fully encapsulate all that he accomplished on behalf of the state of Nevada and for Nevada families; there will never be another leader quite like Senator Reid,” said Gov. Steve Sisolak, D-Nevada. “From humble beginnings in Searchlight, he became one of the state’s most powerful and fiercest advocates in Washington, DC. He spent his life and his career fighting the good fight for all Nevadans.”

“Harry Reid was a champion for Nevada, helping preserve our precious environmental treasures, strengthen our rural communities, and build up our great cities,” said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada. “And he never hesitated to fight for us, from blocking efforts to dump nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain to getting our state the federal support we deserve.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California said, “Senator Harry Reid was a leader of immense courage and ferocious conviction who worked tirelessly to achieve historic progress for the American people. … Senator Reid leaves behind an extraordinary legacy of patriotism and leadership that will benefit the Congress and Country for decades to come.”

“Senator Reid carried our state to new heights — nobody has done more in the history of our state to advance Nevada’s interests,” said Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nevada. “Senator Reid also saw the potential in others and helped them grow to that potential. He was exceptionally kind and had a boundless passion for improving the lives of hardworking families.”

“Nevada and our country lost a true leader with the passing of former Majority Leader Harry Reid. He never forgot where he came from — he loved Nevada fiercely, and he devoted his life to making our state a better place. Simply put, no one has done more for the Silver State,” said Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nevada.

“Senator Harry Reid was a real-life hero; a colossus of Nevada and national politics who defined what it means to live your life in service to others,” said Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nevada. “His legacy will live on through his work to expand affordable health care, protect immigrant communities, promote conservation, and better the lives of working families — but also through the countless people he inspired and communities that he lifted.”

The-House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., right, and then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nev, left, walk to talk to reporters , about the passage of a budget by the House, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 28, 2015. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Former US president Bill Clinton recalled Reid as “a canny and tough negotiator who was never afraid to make an unpopular decision if it meant getting something done that was right for the country. … Because of the legislation he masterfully negotiated to passage, millions of Americans are living better lives.”

Former House speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio said, “I am sad tonight but grateful for the friendship I had with Harry. We disagreed on many things, sometimes famously. But we were always honest with each other. In the years after we left public service, that honesty became a bond. Harry was a fighter until the end.

“The nature of Harry’s and my jobs brought us into frequent and sometimes intense conflict over politics and policy. But I never doubted that Harry was always doing what he earnestly, deeply felt was right for Nevada and our country. He will rightly go down in history as a crucial, pivotal figure in the development and history of his beloved home state,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.

Former president Bill Clinton, left, speaks at a rally in support of then-Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, in Las Vegas, Oct. 12, 2010. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

“Even though we were rarely on the same page politically, Harry Reid was always gracious, classy, and warm in our personal interactions and I always appreciated that about him. We shared the bond of being members of the LDS faith, and he was a devoted family man. … Harry Reid’s impact and legacy will be long felt in Nevada and beyond,” said gubernatorial candidate and former Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada.

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