Updated Dec 29, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dies at 82

Photo of Harry Reid

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) died at 82 Tuesday "following a courageous, four-year battle with pancreatic cancer," his wife, Landra Reid, announced.

The big picture: The influential politician was Senate majority leader from 2007 to 2015, and served in Congress for more than three decades. Both President Biden and former President Obama said Reid was a "great" Senate leader.

  • In his years of service, Reid played key roles in passing the Affordable Care Act, advocating land conservation and reforming financial regulation after the Great Recession.
  • As majority leader, he also led the Senate in eliminating the 60-vote majority needed to vote on most presidential nominees, according to BuzzFeed.

What they're saying: Landra Reid said in a statement released to media that her husband of 62 years died "peacefully," surrounded by family.

  • "Harry was a devout family man and deeply loyal friend," she said.
  • "We greatly appreciate the outpouring of support from so many over these past few years. We are especially grateful for the doctors and nurses that cared for him. Please know that meant the world to him."

Between the lines: Though he wasn't without controversy, the Democrat and stalwart Obama ally "helped Nevada punch above its weight on the national political stage," the Nevada Independent writes.

Background: Reid was born in an impoverished Nevada town in 1939 and grew up with little means.

  • He became an amateur boxer in high school and graduated from Utah State University before pursuing a law degree at George Washington University.
  • Reid worked as a Capitol police officer at night to help pay the bills, per the Independent.
  • After law school, he worked as a city attorney before turning to state politics and successfully running for office in the Nevada Assembly, which positioned him to later campaign for a seat in Congress.
  • In 2018, he underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer. He was declared cancer-free last summer.

For the record: When asked last year whether Democrats will eliminate the filibuster, Reid told CNN that it's "not a question of if it's going to be gone, it's only when it's going to be gone."

What's next: "Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days," Landra Reid said.

Go deeper: Political heavyweights remember "one of a kind" Harry Reid

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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