Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today spoke on the Senate floor to honor the life and legacy of former Senate Majority Leader Harry Mason Reid, Jr., who died on December 28. Senator Reid served the state of Nevada during 5 terms in the Senate, including 12 years as Democratic Leader and 8 as Majority Leader.
Below are her remarks as delivered:
M. President, Today I want to pay tribute to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a champion for Nevada.
He was one of the most powerful, dedicated, and effective advocates my home state has ever had. He worked for the benefit of Nevadans for almost 50 years, in both state and national politics. Everyone living in the Silver State today has benefited from his wise and tenacious efforts.
But before Harry Reid was my Senator, and the senator for the state of Nevada, he was a neighbor to my family. He was a mentor and a friend.
Now, I grew up in Las Vegas just down the street from the Reid family, and my sister and I attended public school with their oldest son, Rory. And the entire Cortez family and Masto family and I want to send our condolences to his beautiful wife Landra; his children, Lana Reid Barringer, Rory, Leif, Josh, and Key; and his 19 grandchildren; and his great-grandchildren.
Harry Reid was irreplaceable not just to them, but to so many people, including me and many of my colleagues in this chamber. He was unfailingly supportive of me throughout my entire time in public service.
You know, I remember when I first decided to run for the office of Nevada’s Attorney General, one of the first people I called was Senator Reid, and I asked him for advice. I asked him for advice on running for office, because it was the first time I’d run for any kind of office, and I’d chosen to take on a statewide campaign. Not only was he supportive, but he was candid in his comments, as only Harry can be, about campaigning, the types of individuals working in the campaign world, and what to beware of of those working in that campaign world. His advice still rings true today.
And when I was serving, and fortunate enough to be elected statewide as the Attorney General, Senator Reid was always available for a call. And he never forgot about Nevada and working with everybody in Nevada, from his seat here as the majority leader. And I remember one time as the Attorney General, I got a call from a senator here in the United States Senate. And this senator said to me, “I was just talking to Senator Reid. There’s an issue come up that I would like to focus on, but Senator Reid said you better call my attorney general first in Nevada to make sure that she and the state of Nevada are supportive of it.” And to this day, I now serve with that senator, and I will never forget getting a call from a United States senator as a sitting attorney general to talk about an issue that was important for Nevada, because Senator Reid knew what was important for him and his state.
He also had this uncanny ability to call you at just the right time—when you needed support, or encouragement, when you needed advice, or just someone to commiserate with.
Now, we all know he didn’t like to stay on the phone long—but he knew when you needed him, and he would be there. He was a compassionate and kind man, a side of him that many people did not see, but many people also benefited greatly from over the years.
It is my incredible honor to hold the Senate seat he occupied so well for so long.
Harry Reid accomplished so much as Nevada’s senator. Born in the little town of Searchlight, Nevada, he knew his home state better than anyone.
He understood that Nevada was a microcosm of our country.
He knew that Nevada’s diversity mirrored this nation’s, and that’s why Senator Reid worked to give Nevada a greater role in deciding each party’s nominee for President. He wanted to ensure that a state as diverse and dynamic as Nevada played an important role in choosing America’s leaders.
Harry Reid also understood Nevada’s landscapes, from the desert outside of Searchlight that so many of us have heard about to the snowy peaks of the Ruby Mountains in winter to the glistening waters of Lake Tahoe. He was a dedicated environmentalist who helped to conserve Nevada’s abundant natural treasures, keeping our state beautiful for future generations and protecting outdoor recreation that fuels our state’s economy.
And we all know, he wouldn’t back down from a fight, especially when it involved Nevada. Whether that was blocking every effort to dump nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain without Nevada’s agreement or advocating for federal funding to help upgrade Nevada’s schools, airports, roads, and bridges, he was relentless in his push to get our state the resources that we deserve.
Harry Reid was as diligent in supporting Nevada’s rural and tribal communities as he was in building up our world-class cities. He helped create Nevada’s booming clean energy economy and make the state a destination for those looking to build an innovative, sustainable future.
The changes he helped set in motion were so far-reaching that they allowed Nevada to benefit from the innovation economy of the 21st century. He paved the way for us.
And it isn’t just Nevadans who are better off because of Harry Reid. The entire country gained because of his hard work and his dedication.
He helped rescue the country by getting America through the Great Recession, taking extra care to support the hospitality and tourism industries that are so vital to the economy and the jobs in Nevada.
He was instrumental in protecting Nevada’s and the nation’s Dreamers and immigrant families.
And in his crowning legislative achievement, he fought tirelessly to get millions of Americans access to affordable health care. His work was key to ensuring that the Affordable Care Act became law, lowering health care costs and giving access to high-quality care to millions who didn’t have it before.
Harry Reid was a great American, but first and foremost he was a great Nevadan. He never forgot where he came from. And there’s no doubt in my mind that’s what motivated him every single day.
And as Nevada’s son, he made a tremendous difference for our state and for every American. He was a wonderful friend and a true public servant. And for that, we will miss him in the Senate and across the nation.