WASHINGTON – Current and former officeholders of both parties memorialized former Senator Harry Reid Tuesday following his death.
Reid, a former Senate majority leader who became a force in American politics, died Tuesday at the age of 82.
Throughout his more than 40-year political career, Reid gained a reputation for his soft-spoken ruthlessness. Several lawmakers, Republican and Democrats, recalled their friendships with Reid.
Here’s what they’re saying:
President Joe Biden
Biden in a statement late Tuesday remembered Reid as “a giant of our history.”
“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,” the president wrote in a statement.
“If Harry said he would do something, he did it,” he continued. “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.”
Biden recalled many of Reid’s legislative achievements, including helping pass the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform.
“For Harry, it wasn’t about power for power’s sake. It was about the power to do right for the people,” he said.
Former President Barack Obama
In a tribute to Reid, Obama shared a letter that he wrote to Reid as he was “nearing the end.”
The former president thanked Reid for his “encouragement and support” to run for president and for his “skill and determination” that helped him get “most of what I got done.”
“Most of all, you’ve been a good friend,” Obama wrote. “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. And you know what, we made for a pretty good team.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
Schumer, D-N.Y., said Reid as “one of the most amazing individuals I have ever met” and called him “my leader, my mentor, one of my dearest friends.”
“He was tough-as-nails strong, but caring and compassionate, and always went out of his way quietly to help people who needed help,” Schumer said in a statement. “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,” Schumer concluded.
Schumer tweeted that flags are being lowered to half staff at the U.S. Capitol.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak
Sisolak, a Democrat, said Reid “never forgot who he was or where he came from” and “spent his life and his career fighting the good fight for all Nevadans.”
“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,” Sisolak said. “To me, he was a mentor, a father figure, and someone I trusted to always give it to me straight.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Pelosi called Reid a “titan of public service” in a Tuesday statement.
“Over more than four decades of public service, he was guided always by his North Star: to improve the lives of working families like his own,” Pelosi said.
“Senator Reid leaves behind an extraordinary legacy of patriotism and leadership that will benefit the Congress and Country for decades to come,” Pelosi said. “May it be a comfort to his wife Landra, whom he adored, his children Rory, Lana, Josh, Key and Leif, of whom he was most proud, and the entire Reid family that so many grieve with and pray for them at this sad time.”
Senate Minority Speaker Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
McConnell remembered Reid’s “legendary toughness, bluntness, and tenacity” in a statement released Tuesday.
“The runway that brought Harry to the upper chamber was nothing short of amazing. His life’s journey began in a house that lacked running water. It took him all the way from amateur boxing and a stint with the U.S. Capitol Police to eventually becoming one of the most senior leaders whom that force protected,” McConnell said.
The Senate leaders often held opposing views, but their differences were never personal, according to McConnell, who said he “never doubted that Harry was always doing what he earnestly, deeply felt was right for Nevada and our country.”
Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner
Boehner, the former Republican congressman from Ohio, said he was “grateful for the friendship I had with Harry.”
“We disagreed on many things, sometimes famously,” Boehner wrote in a tweet. “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. RIP, my friend.”
Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr., D-N.J.
Pascrell wrote in a tweet that Reid “was tough as nails, fiercely loyal, and the most effective Senate Dem leader since LBJ.”
“Harry didn’t care what anyone thought he just wanted to get things done. This is a blow,” Pascrell wrote.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg called Reid “one of a kind.”
“He was extraordinarily effective and indefatigable in his work to make life better for all Americans – and a generous source of advice and encouragement to me and countless others,” Buttigieg wrote in a tweet. “He will be greatly missed, across Nevada and throughout America.”
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.
Kaine in a tweet wrote that Reid “was such a unique person with infinite layers of life experience.”
“If he said he would do something, you could cross it off the list,” Kaine wrote. “And he expected the same from everyone, an endearing trait for anyone, especially someone in politics.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa
Grassley, a Republican, remembered working with the late Democrat in the Senate and noted that as majority leader “he ran a tight ship.”
“Even tho(ough) I am ideologically opposite I must say he did a good job representing the interests of Nevada in the US Senate,” Grassley wrote in a tweet.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah
Lee, a Republican, remembered Reid as “a kind, caring friend.”
“From his time as my family’s home teacher and father of one of my dear friends, to when we were colleagues in the Senate, Senator Harry Reid was a kind, caring friend,” Lee wrote in a statement. “He will be missed. Sharon and I are praying for Landra and their family.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass
In a lengthy tribute, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called Reid a “a fighter who knows how to win.”
“Harry never wavered in his commitment to do what’s right — especially for the people of Nevada. He led the Senate with courage and conviction, fighting every day for a more just America,” Warren tweeted Tuesday.
The Massachusetts Democrat recalled that Reid gave her “a chance to serve.”
“Harry was a good man,” Warren said. “I will miss him.”
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Durbin called Reid “the best” and noted he was “a humble man who never forgot his Searchlight roots.”
“A boxer who had a caring heart. A loyal friend who stood by you through thick and thin. A lucky man who found the love of his life in high school and lived his life with her,” Durbin wrote.
Durbin, who serves as the Democratic whip, thanked Reid for bringing him into “Senate leadership to be by his side nearly twenty years ago and trusted me to be his partner on the biggest political achievements of our lifetime.”
“In the last two years, he would always end our phone calls with ‘I love you brother,’” Durbin continued in a twitter thread. “And that is what our forty year friendship became: a brotherhood, a trust, and a shared love for helping others. Rest in peace, Harry.”
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_