Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced on Friday that he would not be seeking reelection, putting an end date on an almost 30 year congressional run.
Reid has long been a champion of progressive reforms, spearheading efforts to reform the Senate, push through measures to guarantee equal protections for Americans and pass the Affordable Care Act. Recently, the 75-year-old Senator united the Democratic Party in supporting President Obama’s immigration policies, even amid strong opposition from the new Republican majority. “The decision that I have made has absolutely nothing to do with my injury, it has nothing to with my being minority leader and it certainly has nothing to do with my ability to be reelected,” Reid said in a video message Friday in which he thanked the people of Nevada and said he wants to “go out at the top of my game.”
Here is a short list of Reid’s accomplishments in the Senate:
1. Pushed filibuster reform through the Senate:
In 2013, Reid convinced Democrats to vote to approve a controversial measure that banned the use of the filibuster to block nominees from being confirmed. By lowering the number of votes required to lift a filibuster, the rule change prevented Republicans from continuing to filibuster Obama’s nominees to administrative positions like they had done repeatedly throughout Obama’s administration. “It’s an undeniable fact that the obstruction we’ve seen in recent years is altogether new,” Reid said after the Senate approved the measure. Republicans like Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) called the move a “power grab” but Reid insisted it was an “important change” to repair the legislative process.
2. Advocated for protections for LGBT Americans:
After the Employment Non-Discrimination Act stalled in the House last year, Reid said that he would support President Obama if he decided to use executive action to ban workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender federal contractors. Reid has also been a proponent for ENDA in the Senate, and despite being a member of the Mormon Church, the Senator has expressed his support for marriage equality.
3. Led the Senate in passing Obamacare:
As Senate Majority Leader in 2009, Reid spearheaded the Senate in passing the landmark healthcare reform legislation by offering compromises to party centrists while also maintaining the support of the more liberal contingent. “Never before has the Senate found the resolve to make health insurance more affordable and health insurance companies more accountable until today,” Reid said after the successful vote in December 2009.
4. Supported stem cell research:
In 2006 and 2007, Reid supported legislation which would have lifted the ban on stem cell research. Although President George W. Bush vetoed his measure, Obama eventually signed an executive order in 2009 ending the limit on federal funding for the research, which Reid had also supported. Although Sen. Reid opposes abortion rights, his Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, the second iteration of the legislation, would have allowed for significant human embryonic stem cell research, what he called “the next generation of medical breakthroughs.”
5. Protected the environment in his home state:
Despite pressure from Republicans and approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to use Nevada’s Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste site, Reid blocked the attempt and has refused to let the site become a disposal ground which he said would threaten the health of Nevada residents. Reid has calls climate change “one of the greatest challenges of our time” and has blamed the Koch brothers for waging a war on the environment.