Former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid lay in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday as House and Senate members attended a short program in his honor.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said while many considered Reid to be soft-spoken, “his words carried the force of thunder.” Reid served in Schumer’s current position through most of the presidency of Barack Obama, capping a 30-year stint as Nevada’s longest-serving senator.
Schumer, D-N.Y., told a story about Reid pulling him into a small bathroom and giving him money to purchase new shoes. Schumer said when he asked years later why he made that gesture in private, Reid told him that he didn’t want to embarrass him in front of his wife.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she was probably on the end of Reid’s well-publicized “hang up” phone calls the most while he served as Senate Democratic leader and Pelosi during her first turn as House speaker.
She said Reid would repeatedly reject praise for his good work, which Pelosi said he deserved.
“Harry Reid made the world a better place,” Pelosi said. “He will be known as one of the most consequential Senate majority leaders of all time.”
President Joe Biden, who spoke at Reid’s Las Vegas funeral on Saturday, did not speak on Wednesday morning but visited the Capitol later in the afternoon. He crossed himself before putting his hand briefly on the flag-draped coffin.
Vice President Kamala Harris attended the morning event.
Reid died Dec. 28 at age 82 after fighting pancreatic cancer. His funeral included tributes by Obama as well as Biden.