Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid Announces His Retirement
Today, Senate Democrats’ fearless leader Harry Reid announced he won’t seek reelection in 2016, signaling the end of a more than three decade-long career in congress. In his video announcement Sen. Reid assured his supporters that his decision had nothing to do with an eye injury he sustained on New Year’s Day, or the fact that the 2014 elections changed his title from Majority Leader to Minority Leader. Like the boxer he was as a young man, and the fighter he was throughout his time in the Senate, Reid promised to go out swinging: “My friend Sen. McConnell, don’t be too elated. I’m gonna be here for 22 months, and you know what I’m going to be doing? The same thing I’ve done since I first came to the Senate.”
Reid’s services to Nevadans and Americans are innumerable; he brought his own life story of struggle and hard work to the Senate with him each day. And the mark he left on the capitol will be remembered for years to come. To commemorate his outstanding service, ThinkProgress put together a list of just five (you have to draw the line somewhere) of his landmark achievements in the Senate, which we have adapted below:
- Pushed filibuster reform through the Senate. In 2013, Sen. Reid facilitated a change in Senate procedure that prohibited filibusters in the nomination progress, allowing a wave of new judges to be named to important appeals courts.
- Facilitated the Passage of the Affordable Care Act. As majority leader in 2009, Sen. Reid was an integral part of the vote counting and whipping process that allowed the President’s landmark law to be passed without one Republican vote.
- Engineered Comprehensive Immigration Reform in the Senate. Sen. Reid personally fought for and passed comprehensive, bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2013. Unfortunately the Republican-led House never took up the bill, despite overwhelming popular support, so the President was forced to take action without Congress.
- Advocated for protections for LGBT Americans. Sen. Reid has publicly supported marriage equality, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and supported the President taking executive action to ban workplace discrimination against LGBT federal contractors.
- Protected the environment of his home state. Sen. Reid memorably blocked an attempt to use Nevada’s Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste site, despite approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and pressure from Republicans. He also championed Nevada’s transition away from coal reliance in advocating the state’s energy bill “NVision” that called on the state’s largest utility to eliminate a percentage of coal generation from its portfolio. Additionally, he worked across the aisle to establish Nevada’s Great Basin National Park, protecting more than 77,000 acres of public land.
BOTTOM LINE: Overcoming a challenging upbringing with hard work to become one of the most formidable forces for change in American politics, Harry Reid’s life story is the embodiment of the American Dream. It’s part of the reason why he has worked so hard to open the door of opportunity for more Americans. His presence on Capitol Hill will be missed, but his legacy will remain. And if his last 30 years in Congress are any indication, we are looking forward to the next 22 months.