LAS VEGAS (AP) – The life of former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who rose from childhood poverty and deprivation in Nevada to one of the nation’s most powerful elected officials, will be celebrated Saturday by two US presidents and other Democratic leaders. A testament to his influence on some of the most consequential laws of the 21st century.
President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are scheduled to speak during an invitation-only memorial for the longtime Senate leader, who died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 82 on December 28 in Henderson, Nevada. due to complications from cancer. Former President Barack Obama, who credits Reid for his rise to the White House, is determined to deliver praise.
“The President believes Harry Reid to be one of the greatest leaders in Senate history,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday. “That’s why he is traveling to pay tribute to a man who has had a profound impact on this country.”
Biden served with Reed in the Senate for two decades and worked with him for eight years when Biden was vice president.
Along with Obama, Elder M. Russell Ballard, a senior apostle at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will speak about Reid’s 60 years of Mormon faith in the 2,000-seat concert hall. Vice President Kamala Harris will also attend.
“These are not only some of the most consequential leaders of our time — they’re also some of Harry’s best friends,” Reid’s wife of 62 years, Landra Reid, said at a meeting announcing plans for the Smith Center for the Performing Arts event. said in the statement. “Harry took every minute of his decades working with these leaders and accomplished incredible things together.”
Reid’s daughter and four sons are also due to speak.
Obama, in a letter to Reid before his death, recalled their close relationship, their different background, and Reid’s ascent to leadership in Congress from a poor former gold mining town in the Mojave Desert.
“Not bad for the skinny, poor kid in Searchlight,” Obama wrote. “I wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for your encouragement and support, and I wouldn’t have gotten most of what I’ve done without your skill and determination.”
Reid served for 34 years in Washington and led the Senate through a severe recession and Republican takeover of the House following the 2010 elections.
He introduced Obama’s signature Health Care Act through the Senate; Blocked plans for a national nuclear waste repository in the Nevada desert; Wrote the 1986 bill creating the Great Basin National Park; and casino company MGM Mirage was credited with helping it obtain financial support to complete a multi-billion dollar project on the Strip during the Great Recession.
Harry Mason Reed covered 40 miles (64 kilometers) in high school and was an amateur boxer before being elected to the Nevada State Legislature at the age of 28. He had graduated from Utah State University and worked nights as a US Capitol police officer while attending George. Washington University Law School in Washington.
In 1970, at age 30, he was elected lieutenant governor of the state along with Democratic Governor Mike O’Callaghan. Reid was elected to the House in 1982 and to the Senate in 1986.
He built a political machine in Nevada that helped Democrats win important elections for years. When he retired in 2016 after an exercise accident at home left him blind in one eye, he selected former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to replace him.
Cortez Masto became the first lady of Nevada and the first Latina elected to the US Senate.
“Above all, you have been a good friend,” Obama told Reed in his letter. “As different as we are, I think we both saw something for ourselves in each other — some outsider who defied the odds and knew how to take the punch and care for a little boy.”
Singer-songwriter and environmentalist Carole King and Brandon Flower, lead singer of the Las Vegas-based rock band The Killers, are scheduled to perform during the memorial.
“The idea of Carole King performing in honor of Harry is truly a tribute beyond words,” Landra Reid said in her statement. In addition to his daughter and sons, Reid has several grandchildren in his family.
Flowers, a longtime friend, shares Reeds’ Latter-day Saints belief and has been a headliner at events including the Lake Tahoe Summit, which Harry Reid founded in 1997 to draw attention to the ecology of the lake. , and the National Clean Energy Summit that Reid helped launch in Las Vegas in 2008.
Among other songs, the flowers were set to sing the Nevada state anthem, “Home Means Nevada”.
Stephen Jay Klubeck, a close family friend and founder and former CEO of the Las Vegas-based timeshare company, said he sponsored a gathering Friday for several hundred former Reed Congressional employees at the Bellagio resort on the Las Vegas Strip.
The flight to Las Vegas will arrive at the newly designated Harry Reid International Airport. It was previously named after Pat McCarran, a former Democratic US Senator from Nevada who once owned the airfield and whose legacy is steeped in racism and anti-Semitism.
Associated Press writer Colleen Long in Washington contributed to this report.