Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, known as the “Lion of Senate Democrats,” has died at age 82. He was the longest serving United States Senator and one of the first Americans to call for a ban on assault weapons after his son, Paul, shot himself in 2010. His fiery speeches earned him an extensive following among liberals around the country

Harry Reid, lion of Senate Democrats, has died at age 82

Harry Reid, the son of a Nevada miner who ascended to become one of the Senate’s most prominent Democrats, died on Tuesday, according to his family. He was 82 years old at the time.

Reid died Tuesday afternoon following a “four-year struggle with pancreatic cancer,” according to his family. 

Landra Reid, his wife, stated in a statement, “We are very proud of the legacy he leaves behind both on the national stage and in his home Nevada.” “Harry was moved to tears when he learned that his decades of devotion to Nevada had been recognized in recent weeks with the renaming of Las Vegas International Airport in his name.”

Reid was described as one of the “most remarkable people I’ve ever met” by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in a tweet.

“He never forgot where he came from and utilized his boxing instincts to bravely combat those who were harming the poor and middle class,” Schumer said on Twitter. “He’s gone, but he’ll continue to walk with many of us in the Senate every day.”

Harry Reid Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., talks at a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington on December 8, 2016. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Reid was elected to the United States Senate for the first time in 1986, after spending two terms as a congressman in Nevada’s newly constituted 1st district. Reid grew in influence in the Senate over time, advancing from minority whip in 1998 to Democratic leader in 2005. He was the leader of the Senate Democrats until he retired in 2016 due to health issues.

Reid, who is known for his deal-making abilities, was instrumental in securing the support of all 60 Democrats for former President Barack Obama’s flagship piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act. He attributed his support for Obamacare on his lack of access to health and dental care as a child.

“Health-care services. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted in 2010. I’ve mentioned it briefly before “In his parting address to the Senate, Reid remarked. “It would have been amazing if we had something like that when I was a kid to aid my family.” 

Reid was born in the former mining boomtown of Searchlight, Nevada, in 1939. Both his father and mother worked as rock miners and did laundry for brothels and casinos, and neither had a high school graduation. In his retirement address to the Senate in 2016, Reid stated Searchlight had “seen better days” and employed around 250 people.  

Reid worked at a gas station in high school and used the money to get his mother new teeth, and since the community didn’t have a high school, he moved to Henderson, Nevada for high school. Reid said that he and his brother were born at home since there was no hospital, and that he didn’t see a dentist until he was 14. 

When Reid was 32 years old and served as Nevada’s lieutenant governor, his father, who the former senator said suffered from depression, committed himself.

Reid met his future wife, Landra Gould, in Basic High School, and they were married for 62 years. 

In the Senate, Reid was known not only for favoring issues related to his home state, such as mining and the gaming industry, but also for being a fervent partisan and dealmaker — in 2003, he persuaded Republican Senator Jim Jeffords to switch parties and join the Democrats, giving Democrats the Senate majority.

Reid originally rose to the top of the Democratic Party in 1999, leading the campaign against privatizing Social Security, and after becoming Majority Leader in 2006, he became increasingly public in his opposition to the Iraq War. 

Reid pushed through Obama’s goals when he entered office in 2009: the stimulus package and subsequently the Affordable Care Act. Reid paid a political price for it: According to Politico, he won by fewer than 300 votes in the 2010 election. 

Reid pushed for the filibuster to be abolished for judicial nominations in 2013. He told The New York Times that he “didn’t have a choice,” but it cost Democrats the majority in 2014 and 2015. During previous President Trump’s reign, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell exploited it to his advantage, appointing conservative judges. 

Reid was adamant in his opposition to the filibuster, declaring at a 2020 event that “it’s not a matter of if it’ll go away, it’s simply a question of when it’ll go away.” 

Reid was injured while exercising in 2015, and after numerous operations, he was forced to wear an eye patch. Later that year, he stated that he will not seek re-election to a sixth term. Catherine Cortezo Masto, his selected Democratic replacement, won his seat that year.

Reid told New York magazine after Trump’s win that he wouldn’t miss Washington. “I would have missed the action if Hillary had won and the Democrats had a majority,” he remarked. “I’m not going to miss it with this.”

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Frequently Asked Questions

Did Harry Reid die?

A: Harry Reid is alive and well.

How old was Senator Harry Reid when he died?

A: He was 79 – years old when he passed away.

Who is Harry Reids wife?

A: Harry Reid is a fictional character from the movie A Christmas Story. His wifes name is Sally, but she can also be called Mrs. Gertrude Butterball.

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