Harry Reid, former Democratic leader of the US Senate, is dead

Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, United States, December 3, 1996.

Former head of the US Senate Harry Reid, an emblematic figure of the Democratic Party and of the political scene in the United States for several decades, has died at the age of 82, his wife announced on Tuesday (December 27th). “He died peacefully this afternoon”, she said in a statement, adding that the death followed a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer.

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Majority leader in the Senate between 2007 and 2015, the elected Democrat was a major figure in the end of the presidency of George W. Bush, and of a large part of Barack Obama’s two terms. Harry Reid had notably used his long experience in Congress to help the Democratic president push through his reform of Obamacare medicare, one of the most important legislative projects of his eight years in the White House.

This poised and laconic speaker was born and raised in the small mining town of Searchlight, Nevada, in a house with no running water. Considered more conservative than most Democrats in the Senate, this practicing Mormon was a staunch opponent of abortion, a position that frequently won him head-on opposition from some colleagues within his party.

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Rain of tributes from the Democratic side

A shower of tributes from the Democratic side quickly followed the news of his death. Barack Obama shared a letter Harry Reid’s wife asked him to write shortly before his death, in which the former president thanks ” a good friend “. “I wouldn’t have become president if it hadn’t been for your encouragement and support, and I would never have achieved most of what I have been able to accomplish without your talent and determination.”, wrote Barack Obama.

US President Joe Biden, former vice president of Barack Obama, greeted a « giant of our history ” for which “It was not power for the sake of power. It was the power to do good for people ”.

For the current Senate leader, Democrat Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid “Never forgot where he came from, and he used his boxing instincts to fearlessly fight those who hurt the poor and the middle class”.

Recalling his past as a boxer, former Democratic President Bill Clinton claimed that Harry Reid “Never shied away from necessary political battles, but was convinced that compromise was vital for a functioning democracy”. “Thanks to the laws he masterfully guided through ratification, millions of Americans are living better lives.”, he added.

The leader of the Republicans in the United States Senate, Mitch McConnell, recalled for his part that if “The nature of my work and that of Harry’s has frequently brought us into sometimes intense policy conflict”, “I never doubted that Harry always did what he deeply and sincerely believed was right for Nevada and for our country”.

The World with AFP

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Harry Reid, former Democratic leader of the US Senate, is dead

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