Tributes pour in for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

He was roundly praised from both sides of the aisle.

December 29, 2021, 3:07 PM

Tributes poured in overnight from across the political spectrum for former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who died Tuesday at 82 years old after living for years with pancreatic cancer.

Former President Barack Obama shared a letter he sent to the late senator, who helped pass his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act.

"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.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was one of the first public officials to release a statement, calling Reid his "leader, mentor, and one of my closest friends."

PHOTO: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid delivers a speech at the YearlyKos convention in Las Vegas, June 10, 2006.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid delivers a speech at the YearlyKos convention in Las Vegas, June 10, 2006.
Jae C. Hong/AP, FILE

President Joe Biden, who served alongside Reid in the Senate, said in a statement that the "all-time great" wasn't about "power for power's sake."

"I've had the honor of serving with some of the all-time great Senate Majority Leaders in our history. Harry Reid was one of them. And for Harry, it wasn't about power for power's sake. It was about the power to do right for the people," Biden wrote.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Reid's longtime Republican counterpart, lauded the late senator as a "pivotal figure" despite their disagreements.

"The nature of Harry's and my jobs brought us into frequent and sometimes intense conflict over politics and policy," McConnell wrote in a statement. "But I never doubted that Harry was always doing what he earnestly, deeply felt was right for Nevada and our country. He will rightly go down in history as a crucial, pivotal figure in the development and history of his beloved home state."

While former House Speaker John Boehner also often sparred with Reid, he reflected on what he called their "friendship."

PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks at a news conference with other senior Democratic Senators on efforts to reach an agreement on the federal budget on Capitol Hill, April 7, 2011, in Washington, DC.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks at a news conference with other senior Democratic Senators on efforts to reach an agreement on the federal budget on Capitol Hill, April 7, 2011, in Washington, DC.
Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images, FILE

"I am sad tonight but grateful for the friendship I had with Harry," Boehner wrote in a tweet. "We disagreed on many things, sometimes famously. But we were always honest with each other. In the years after we left public service, that honesty became a bond. Harry was a fighter until the end. RIP, my friend."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Reid a "titan of public service."

"Senator Harry Reid was a leader of immense courage and ferocious conviction who worked tirelessly to achieve historic progress for the American people," Pelosi wrote in a statement.

Vice President Kamala Harris praised the late senator as an "honorable public servant," who "got things done."

"Whenever we had a chance to speak, Leader Reid was kind, generous, and always to the point," Harris wrote.

Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who Reid backed to replace him in 2016, called him "one of the most powerful, dedicated, and effective advocates."

PHOTO: The U.S. flag is flown at half-staff over the Capitol Building in honor of former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Dec. 29, 2021, in Washington, DC.
The U.S. flag is flown at half-staff over the Capitol Building in honor of former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Dec. 29, 2021, in Washington, DC.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

"From the moment he woke up to the moment he went to bed, everything he did was motivated by his love for and devotion to the Silver State," Cortez Mastro wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.

President Biden issued a proclamation Wednesday calling for flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House and beyond to honor the life and legacy of "one of the great Senate Majority Leaders in American history." Schumer called for the same at the Capitol.

ABC News' Adisa Hargett-Robinson contributed to this report.

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