Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Nevada’s longest-serving member of Congress, died on Tuesday of pancreatic cancer. He was 82.
Reid was born in 1939 and his father committed suicide and his mother washed laundry to earn money. Reid and his family benefited from “Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and he never forgot it,” said Jim Manley, Reid’s former senior communications spokesman. “He always was looking out for the little guy after seeing firsthand how beneficial government could be.”
Reid was a boxer, a U.S. Capitol Police officer before he joined the Senate.
Reid served as a senator from 1987 to 2017 and became a majority leader in 2007-2017. He was elected to Washington as a member of the U.S. Senate in 1986 and retired to Nevada due to health concerns.
Part of former President Barack Obama’s letter to Harry Reid toward the end of Reid’s life made the rounds on social media: “Here’s what I wrote to my friend,” Obama said.
“Harry, I got the news that the health situation has taken a rough turn, and that it’s hard to talk on the phone. Which, let’s face it, is not that big of a change cause you never liked to talk on the phone anyway! Here’s what I want you to know. You were a great leader in the Senate, and early on you were more generous to me than I had any right to expect. I wouldn’t have been president had it not been for your encouragement and support, and I wouldn’t have got most of what I got done without your skill and determination.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement on Reid’s passing, calling Reid’s rise to power “quintessentially American” and praising their “cordial” relationship.
“Nevada and our nation are mourning a dedicated public servant and a truly one-of-a-kind U.S. Senator, my former colleague Harry Reid,” McConnell wrote. “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.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) tweeted he and Reid worked on the passing of the taxpayer’s bill of rights. In 1988, the Omnibus Taxpayer Bill of Rights was enacted to provide rights to taxpayers in dealing with the IRS.
Reid was married to his wife Landra for 60 years and had 19 grandchildren.
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