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At 82 Harry Reid, a long-serving US senator from Nevada, and former Democratic leader, is dead

According to Landra Reid's statement, Harry Reid, the former Democratic Senate leader and scrappy politician, has passed away at the age 82.

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At 82 Harry Reid, a long-serving US senator from Nevada, and former Democratic leader, is dead

"I am deeply sorry to announce the death of Harry Reid, my husband and former Senate Majority Leader. She said that Reid passed away peacefully Tuesday afternoon, surrounded and comforted by his family after a brave, four-year fight with pancreatic cancer.

Reid rose from humble beginnings as a Searchlight, Nevada resident to become the most powerful Nevada politician. He was the Democratic leader in Senate and served eight years of the majority.

In a Tuesday statement, President Joe Biden, who was a senator with Reid, called him "one of the all-time great Senate Majority Leaderships in our History"

In a Tuesday evening statement, Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, stated that he was "my leader, my mentor and one of my dearest friendships." He's gone, but he will continue to walk alongside many of us in Senate every day.

In lieu of a statement, former President Barack Obama released a letter that he wrote to Reid before his passing. Obama wrote, "I wouldn’t have been president without your encouragement and support. And I wouldn’t have gotten most of what I achieved without your skillful and determined."

In 2018, Reid had pancreatic cancer surgery. He declared he was now in remission less than one year later. He told CNN's Dana Bash at the time that he felt good and was doing well. Reid was blunt in his response to the cancer diagnosis, telling The New York Times, 2019: "As soon you discover that you have something on you pancreas. You're dead."

From humble beginnings to the US Senate

His political future was not evident at the beginning of Reid’s life. His mother was born in 1939, in a small home without running water. He wrote that his mother used to make money doing laundry for brothels while his father worked as hard-rock miner. He attended Henderson High School in Nevada. He often hitchhiked the 45-mile route.

Reid was a boxer as a child. He later attended Utah State University and then moved to Washington, DC. Reid worked his way through law school at George Washington University, becoming an officer with the United States Capitol Police.

Reid stated in 2011 that he believes he is the only ex-Capitol policeman who is now a senator. "I have great respect for their work."

Reid, who was the youngest person elected to this position in Nevada, returned to Nevada after law school. After being defeated in a reelection election, Reid was elected chair of the Nevada Gaming Commission. This powerful position oversees and regulates Nevada's casino industry. Reid and his family were made a target by the mob after Reid left the position. Reid wrote that his wife discovered a bomb in Reid's car.

Nevada was the place where Reid's political career took off. After the 1980 census, Nevada had one congressional district and two. Reid ran in 1982 for the newly created congressional district near Las Vegas. He won the general election. In 1984, he was reelected. In 1986, he ran successfully for the Nevada Senate seat open.

He rose up the ranks and served as the Democratic whip in the chamber from 1999 to 2005. He was his party's leader at the Senate from 2005 to his retirement in 2017. This included both his time as a minority and majority Democrat.

Politics

Reid was the Democratic leader of the chamber and a controversial figure. Republicans believed that much of the gridlock in Congress was due to Reid's hard-ball tactics. However, Reid enjoyed playing the political bad guy and called George W. Bush a "loser", "liar" and "loser". Later, Reid said to CNN's Bash, "everyday" that he wished for President Donald Trump when he was still in the White House.

Reid is often blamed with deepening political polarization through irascible rhetoric regarding Republicans and the use controversial Senate procedures, which left traditionalists concerned that the consensus that once made this chamber special was gone forever.

These same tactics were also used in electoral politics. Reid falsely accused Republican nominee Mitt Romney of not paying taxes during Obama's 2012 reelection campaign. When asked by CNN 2015 if he regretted the attack he replied, "I don’t regret that at any time."

"Romney didn’t win, did? Reid asked rhetorically.

He annoyed Republicans but he was cheered by Democrats because he was the last line to defend Bush and other Republicans. He was a strong defender of social programmes and, reflecting the wishes of large Latino communities back home, a supporter of immigration reform.

Reid was the one who drafted Obama's liberal legacy into law. He said that one of his proudest achievements had been encouraging Sen. Obama to run for President.

"I called him in my office and said that he should have a look at it. He was shocked because I was the one who suggested it to him." Reid shared this with CNN in 2015.

Reid recalled, "When he won, that was) one the most touching phone calls I've ever heard because he said, You know, 'You are the reason I am here.'"

In a Tuesday evening letter to Reid, Obama reiterated this sentiment. Here's what I want to tell you. Obama wrote that you were a great leader in Senate and were generous with me early on.

"Although we may be different, I believe we both saw something in each other. We were outsiders who could take a punch and care about the little guy. He said that they made a good team.

Former President Bill Clinton also praised Reid, describing him as "one the most effective Senate leaders our nation has ever known."

Clinton stated in a statement that he believes there will never be another public servant quite as like Clinton in personality, command over strategy and tactics and his ability to march to the beat of his own drummer.

In the darkest hours after the Great Recession, Reid managed to push through a $800 billion economic stimulus package through the Senate. This was despite the insurmountable disagreements with many Republicans who claimed it was too costly and that it racked up too high debt.

Later, he guided the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) through the Senate by using a controversial budget maneuver called reconciliation to bypass a Republican filibuster. He told the GOP to "stop crying about it."

"Senator Harry Reid was a leader with immense courage and ferocious conviction, who worked tirelessly for historic progress for American people," said Nancy Pelosi (House Speaker), who has been working alongside Reid in the Capitol as the House's top Democrat over the past 20 years. She said that Senator Reid's North Star was to make the lives of working families better over his more than 40-year career in public service.

The most significant impact of the former senator in modern Washington is his 2013 amendment to the Senate rules to stop filibusters from most executive branch nominations.

CNN reported last year that he didn't regret changing the rules. He said: "I have no regret." It was the right thing. It's not the first change to the rules. They have been modified many times. It was time for it to be done again.

In an increasingly polarized Congress, the widespread use of filibuster in Congress has increased in recent years. Reid wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times calling for the end of filibuster in 2019.

Biden stated in his Tuesday statement that Harry had met the mark for what I have always believed to be the most important way to measure someone: their actions and their words.

Harry did what he said he would. You could trust him if he kept his word. "That's how he got things done over the years for the good of our country," the President said.

Although his blunt style was not his best, Reid earned the respect of many long-time aides and fellow legislators -- even those from across the aisle.

Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was often at odds with Reid throughout their long careers. He remembered Reid as a "one of a kind" senator and said their relationship transcended political battles.

"The nature and purpose of Harry's work and mine brought us into constant and sometimes intense conflict over policy and politics. "But I never doubted Harry was doing what he earnestly and deeply believed was right for Nevada, our country," the Kentucky Republican stated. He will be remembered as a pivotal, crucial figure in the history and development of his home state.

Reid stated to CNN earlier this year that John Boehner is someone he respects. He was reacting to excerpts from Boehner’s memoir and lambasting the Republican Party's recent "tribal" turn.

"The deal is as follows. John Boehner, I and we got a lot done. But we didn't mince words," said he.

Love and legacy

Although Reid is known for being a hard worker who doesn't mind scrapping with his rivals, Landra, his wife, was the most influential person in Reid's life. Reid met Landra in high school, when Reid was 15. Reid was 15 when Reid met her father. Reid and her father were so against the pair dating, Reid got into a fight with their father-in law early in their relationship.

Bash was told by Reid, an agnostic who was raised, that their opposition was their desire for their daughter to marry a Jewish man. They got married in 1959 while they were both at college. A year later, they converted to Mormonism. He finally accepted her parents.

Reid said, "It is a blessing to have this 5-foot tall lady with me all these many years."

Former Senate majority leader, he attributed his political success over the years to hard work.

"My athletic prowess didn't help me make it in my life. My good looks didn't get me there. "I didn't make the Senate because I'm genius," he stated in his farewell address to the Senate floor in 2016. "I worked hard to make it."

Nevada is where Reid's greatest legacy will likely be felt. The senator not only rebuilt the Western state but also made it a stronghold for Democrats that last supported a Republican president in 2004.

In his 2016 farewell address, he stated that "The little boy of Searchlight has been able be part of the changing state of Nevada."

Reid was instrumental in pushing Democrats for Nevada to be one of the first national nominating contests. This move focused Democratic attention on Nevada, and was a catalyst for its leftward shift. Reid often encouraged Democrats to make Nevada more important by urging them to move the state ahead of New Hampshire and Iowa, which were the two first states in the nomination process.

He used his power to help younger politicians like Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (the former Senate majority leader) who was recruited to run for his seat in 2016 when he retired.

Cortez Masto, who released a statement Tuesday, said that Harry Reid was a champion for Nevada. He helped preserve precious environmental treasures, strengthen rural communities, and build great cities. "The leadership of Senator Harry Reid has made America better."

Recognizing Reid's impact on Nevada, the Clark County Board of Commissioners voted earlier in the year for the renaming of McCarran International Airport Harry Reid International Airport.

Reid was able to reflect on his life and the role that he played in changing Nevada when he was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Nevada Democratic Party in 2019.

He said, "It's a long journey from Searchlight to Washington." "But I wasn't the only one who got there. You, Nevadans, are the reason I reached my destination.

This story has been updated to include additional information.

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