Washington (AFP), December 29 – Former US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada who rose from humble beginnings as the head of the upper house during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, died Tuesday. He was 82 years old.
“I am heartbroken to announce the death of my husband,” said his wife, Landra, in a statement released to American media, adding that he had passed “peacefully this afternoon, surrounded by our family” .
Reid, who used his congressional experience to help Obama pass his landmark Affordable Care Act through the Senate, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018.
Laconic and soft-spoken, Reid was born and raised in the mining town of Searchlight, Nevada on December 2, 1939, in a home without hot water or an indoor toilet.
A prize fighter in his youth, he used his pugilism instincts to fight his way to becoming one of the oldest majority leaders in US Senate history, and even called his memoir “The Good Fight ”.
President Joe Biden, who served as Obama’s vice president and with Reid for two decades in the Senate, said in a statement his former colleague was a “giant in our history” and one of the “great leaders of the United Nations. all-time Senate majority “.
“For Harry, it wasn’t about power for the sake of power. It was about the power to do good for the people.
Obama released on Tuesday a letter he wrote to Reid shortly before his death, in which he said: “I wouldn’t have been president without your encouragement and support, and I wouldn’t have gotten most of it.” of what I have done without your talent and your determination.
Current Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, tweeted that Reid was “one of the most amazing people I have ever met.”
“He never forgot where he came from and used those boxing instincts to fearlessly fight those who hurt the poor and the middle class.”
– ‘Competence and determination’ –
Despite his difficult upbringing, Reid was elected to the Senate in 1986 and became the Democratic House leader in the 2004 election.
He was majority leader from 2007 to 2015.
Reid often referred to his working-class background – his father was a minor, his mother a laundromat, and neither of his parents had graduated from high school.
As a teenager, he hitchhiked 65 kilometers to the nearest high school, then graduated from Utah State University and enrolled in George Washington University Law School working nights as a member of the United States Capitol Police.
Quixote, he’s already filibustered Republicans for nine hours, reading the history book he wrote about his hometown of Searchlight.
Reid was more conservative than most other Democrats in the Senate.
A practicing Mormon, he was fiercely against the right to abortion – a position that at times led him to work against the grain with other members of his Democratic caucus.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Reid a “titan”, describing him as “a leader of immense courage and fierce conviction who has worked tirelessly to achieve historic progress for the American people.”
Mitch McConnell, the Republican Minority Leader in the Senate, said Reid’s rise from poverty to political power was a “quintessentially American story, and it took Harry’s legendary tenacity, frankness and tenacity to make it happen. “.
Reid had remained frank and straightforward even in retirement.
He slammed McConnell in 2020 for hitting Amy Coney-Barrett, then Supreme Court President Amy Coney-Barrett, just two months before the election, after refusing to allow a vote on an Obama candidate nine months before the 2016 elections.
“Him and the chairman of the judiciary committee – it’s just terrible what they did … they’re such hypocrites,” Reid said of McConnell at the time.