Reid defends relationship with McConnell in farewell speech
© Greg Nash
 
The outgoing Senate Democratic leader noted that despite frequent reported clashes, the two don't hate each other. 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
"Go ahead and make up all the stories you want about how we hate each other ... but we don't," he said, adding that the Senate isn't supposed to be a "love session" and he and McConnell don't need to be "hugging" on the floor every day.
  
Reid has rankled Republicans for years with his blunt rhetoric and iron grip on Senate procedure, making him a top GOP antagonist. 
 
Republicans openly boasted this week that they were looking forward to Reid's departure, with many believing incoming Senate Democrat Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPostal Service says it lost .2 billion over three-month period A three-trillion dollar stimulus, but Charles Schumer for renewable energy — leading businesses want to change that Democrats try to force Trump to boost medical supplies production MORE (D-N.Y.) will be more willing to cut deals. 
 
"For me, his time here has been one of a failure, obstruction and gridlock," Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoLatest Trump proposal on endangered species could limit future habitat, critics say Republicans dismiss Trump proposal to delay election Barrasso nuclear bill latest GOP effort to boost uranium mining MORE (R-Wyo.) told reporters of Reid. "All you need to do is look at what happened when as majority leader, he wouldn't even allow members of his own party to offer amendments on the floor."
 
Republicans made "fire Reid" a rallying cry in 2014, even though the Nevada lawmaker wasn't up for reelection, as they tried to retake the Senate and demote Reid to the position of minority leader. 
 
But McConnell kicked off the speeches lauding Reid on Thursday, noting his well-known love of baseball and his rough childhood. 
 
"It goes without saying this was not, not an easy life," the Kentucky Republican added. "It taught some tough lessons. ... [But] if there's one thing we know about Harry, he doesn't give up easily." 
 
Reid gave his farewell speech surrounded by most Democrat senators, as well as McConnell and GOP Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTennessee primary battle turns nasty for Republicans Cheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama MORE (Tenn.), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline Trump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Key 48 hours loom as negotiators push for relief deal MORE (Tenn.),  Bill Cassidy (La.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE (Ariz.) and Mike Rounds (S.D.).
 
 
 
Reid is leaving Washington after being in Congress for decades, joining the House in 1983 and spending nearly 30 years in the Senate. 
 
He spoke at length during his speech — which lasted for one hour and 20 minutes — about his legislative record, including reducing tax burdens, battling female genital mutilation, shutting down Yucca Mountain, work on the Department of Veterans Affairs and a failed attempt to get J. Edgar Hoover's name off the FBI building. 
 
Reid also detailed his childhood, sharing an anecdote about how he would throw rocks at the outhouse when his mother was inside and tying his father's suicide to his support for the Affordable Care Act.
 
"I can still remember seeing my dad on that bed, and I was so sad, because my dad never had a chance," he said. "He was depressed always."