Senate

Reid defends relationship with McConnell in farewell speech

Greg Nash
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) gave his farewell speech Thursday, capping decades in Congress by defending his often criticized relationship with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
 
The outgoing Senate Democratic leader noted that despite frequent reported clashes, the two don’t hate each other. 
 
{mosads}”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 Schumer (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 Barrasso (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 Corker (Tenn.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.),  Bill Cassidy (La.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Mike Rounds (S.D.).
 
His home-state GOP colleague Dean Heller presided over the Senate.  
 
Reid also gave a shout out to Schumer and Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who will be the top three Senate Democrats next year.
 
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.” 
Tags Bob Corker Charles Schumer Dean Heller Dick Durbin Harry Reid Jeff Flake John Barrasso Lamar Alexander Mitch McConnell Patty Murray
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