Obama, Biden honor Senator Harry Reid as man “who got things done”

LAS VEGAS – Former President Barack Obama on Saturday commemorated the late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as a man “who got things done” as Democratic leaders gathered to recall Reid – often in laughing – like a man whose impatience for jokes was part of a drive to improve the lives of ordinary Americans.

Attending Reid’s memorial service in Las Vegas was a testament to his impact on some of the most important legislation of the 21st century, despite his childhood in poverty and deprivation in Nevada. President Biden escorted Reid’s widow, Landra Reid, to her seat at the start of services, before an honor guard carried the flag-covered casket to the well of a hushed auditorium.

Reid died Dec. 28 at his home in Henderson, Nevada, aged 82 of 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 credited Reid’s work on strengthening healthcare and reforming Wall Street and economic recovery from the 2008 recession, in what is considered one of the sessions of the Most important congresses of modern times.

Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who described Reid to mourners as a “truly honest and original character,” spoke at an invitation-only memorial .

Obama, who credits Reid with his rise to the White House, delivered the eulogy.

When Reid helped pass the Affordable Care Act early in Obama’s first term, “he didn’t do it to restore his legacy,” Obama said. When Reid was a boy, Obama explained, Reid’s family was so poor he “didn’t even know” what health care was. When a tooth went bad, his father pulled it out himself. A brother let a broken leg heal on its own.

In Reid’s work in Washington, “he did it for people back home and families like his, who needed someone to take care of them when no one else was.” . Harry got things done, ”Obama said.

“The thing with Harry is that 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 Reid. 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 added. “You can bet on it. “

A recurring and humorous theme throughout the funeral was “Harry Reiding” – Reid’s habit of ending phone conversations abruptly without saying goodbye.

“I have to tell you that every time I hear a dial tone I think of Harry,” Biden told the mourners.

Reid’s son Leif sought to explain his father’s well-known habit, a move that sometimes left the other person – whether powerful politicians or close family members – arguing for several minutes before realizing he was no longer there.

“I’ve probably been hooked the most by Harry Reid, two or three times a day, for 12 years,” Pelosi said.

“Sometimes I even called him back and said to Harry, ‘I was singing your praises,’” Pelosi said. To which Reid replied, “I don’t want to hear it,” she said, before hearing the phone click again.

Leif Reid said it was “part of the story” of his father’s life, and a gesture for Reid to save time for the family.

“When he hung up on you, maybe so quickly, it wasn’t so much about his bluntness as about his devotion to my mother,” said Leif Reid. Her four siblings also spoke at the memorial service.

Reid served 34 years in Washington and led the Senate through a crippling recession and the Republican takeover of the House after the 2010 election.

Harry Mason Reid hitchhiked 40 miles to high school and was an amateur boxer before being elected to the Nevada State Assembly at 28. He was a graduate of Utah State University and worked as a night shift police officer at the U.S. Capitol while attending law school at George Washington University in Washington.

In 1970, at the age of 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 for years helped Democrats win key elections. When he retired in 2016 after an exercise accident at home left him blind in one eye, he chose former Nevada attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto to replace him.

Cortez Masto became Nevada’s first woman and the first Latina ever to be elected to the United States Senate.

Reid’s body will be airlifted to Washington for rest in the state at the Capitol Rotunda, and another ceremony will take place there on Wednesday.

Saturday’s Las Vegas services host Marcus Faust said Reid’s casket will return to Nevada to be buried on the family land at Searchlight.

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