Dem Lawmakers

Former colleagues honor Reid in ceremony at Capitol

A military honor guard place the casket of former Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) into the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on January 12, 2022.

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was honored by his colleagues on Wednesday during a procession in Washington, D.C., where the late senator is now lying in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

Reid, a Democratic lawmaker from Nevada who first joined Congress in 1983 and led his party through two presidencies, died last month at the age of 82 after a bout with pancreatic cancer. 

On Wednesday afternoon, his colleagues joined the procession in D.C. and placed hands over their hearts as Reid was carried up the steps in a casket draped in an American flag.

Lawmakers gathered around Reid’s casket in the Rotunda to pay tribute to a senator who was known for both his good will and tenacity.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) jokingly recalled that Reid “rarely said goodbye on the phone,” noting that he had to tell other Congress members that it wasn’t a sign that Reid was mad at them. 

Schumer, who first worked with Reid in 1998, also called his longtime colleague a “dear friend and mentor.”

“We celebrate Harry Mason Reid’s final return to the Capitol because we must,” Schumer said. “Few have shaped the workings of this building like our dear friend from Nevada. Few have dedicated their lives to the work of the people quite like Harry did. And today, our feelings of both loss and gratitude are immense.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Reid “made the world a better place” through his “goodness,” noting that Reid’s three decades of congressional service, including two terms in the house, will remain an inspiration.

“To see him lead and legislate was to see a master at work,” Pelosi said. “There’s much more I want to say about Harry, but as you know he was a man of few words and he would want us all to be of a few words.”

Reid grew up in poverty in the small mining town of Searchlight, Nev. His father was a miner with little education, but Reid would further his own schooling and earn a degree from Utah State University and a law degree from George Washington University.

He was first elected to the Nevada State Assembly in 1968 at the age of 28, launching his career in public service. During his decades in politics, Reid was immensely popular in Nevada and among both Republicans and Democrats, helping to invest in clean energy and support police and military service. He even helped establish the state’s first national park.

President Biden, who spoke at Gen. Raymond Odierno’s funeral in Virginia on Wednesday, was not at Reid’s procession, but he did attend the late senator’s funeral in Nevada last week. Biden noted Reid’s history as a boxer in his speech.

“May this be his legacy,” Biden said. “Take up the remaining rounds of Harry Reid’s good fight for the America we all love.”

Vice President Harris attended Wednesday’s event with her husband, Doug Emhoff, as did U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) and Reid’s widow, Landra Gould.

Laying in state at the Capitol event is a rare honor reserved only for those with distinguished national service. According to the Capitol website, 42 prominent Americans have had the honor, including former congressman Robert Dole and former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Tags Biden Capitol Rotunda Capitol Rotunda Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer D.C. Doug Emhoff Harry Reid Harry Reid Joe Biden Laying in state Lying in state memorial service Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Nevada Ruth Bader Ginsburg Washington

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