Harry Reid, the former Democratic Senate leader who spearheaded epic legislative battles through three decades in Congress, has died at age 82 following a long battle with pancreatic cancer, according to media reports.
Reid rose from humble beginnings in Searchlight, Nevada, to become the most powerful politician in that state's history, capping his political career as the Democratic leader in the Senate, including eight years in the majority.
Tributes poured in regarding Reid.
President Joe Biden, who served with Reid in the Senate, called him one of "the all-time great Senate Majority Leaders in our history" in a statement. Former President Barack Obama released a letter he had written to Reid before his death in lieu of a statement. "I wouldn't have been president had it not been for your encouragement and support, and I wouldn't have got most of what I got done without your skill and determination," Obama wrote.
U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Illinois) issued a statement saying, "Harry Reid was a giant of the US Senate and the Democratic Party. Among many other historic achievements, he used his grit and determined leadership style to help shepherd the ACA through the Senate, changing the lives of millions of Americans for the better. Leader Reid's legacy will be felt in the Senate and across the country for decades to come." Congressman Jesus "Chuy" García (D-Illinois) said, "Senator Reid was a longtime advocate, and friend to the Latino community, and worked to champion immigration reform efforts including the Dream and Promise Act. … He had an incredible work ethic and an ability to pass meaningful and impactful legislation."
And Reid was also a champion for the LGBTQ+ community. Before he retired from Congress in 2016, then-Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin issued a statement saying, "During Senator Reid's term as majority leader, the Senate passed sweeping legislation that has fundamentally improved the lives of LGBT Americans and brought this nation closer to achieving its mission of liberty and justice for all. Without his courage and commitment to equality, Don't Ask, Don't Tell would still be on the books and LGBT people would lack key hate crimes and domestic violence protections. With two years left in his term, Senator Reid will continue to be a key ally as we fight for a new federal LGBT non-discrimination bill in this session of Congress."