‘He’s a press guy, I’m not’: How Harry Reid shaped Chuck Schumer

Whereas Schumer leads the celebration with relentless messaging self-discipline and a deal with lockstep celebration unity, Reid favored all-out political fight. Generally Reid battled members of his personal celebration, however he reveled in partisan bomb-throwing.

Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell and Reid as soon as notably took to the Senate flooring collectively in 2015 to dispute the tone of a POLITICO story on their relationship, which was scraping all-time low. However remembering Reid on Tuesday, McConnell put it this fashion: “When Harry retired from the Senate, we each celebrated the truth that our many variations had by no means actually gotten private.”

“The character of Harry’s and my jobs introduced us into frequent and typically intense battle over politics and coverage. However I by no means doubted that Harry was all the time doing what he earnestly, deeply felt was proper for Nevada and our nation,” McConnell mentioned.

But their battles set the stage for right now’s tenuous steadiness of energy in a Schumer-led 50-50 Senate, with many Democrats now overtly warning that the supermajority threshold’s days are numbered given the issue in assembling 60 votes for his or her celebration’s priorities like elections reform. These dominoes started falling after Reid invoked the so-called nuclear choice in 2013, eliminating the filibuster on most nominations. It was probably the most consequential selections made within the Senate this century — and Schumer had Reid’s again.


Reid felt he needed to do it to beat McConnell’s obstruction of then-President Barack Obama’s nominees. He additionally believed the Senate’s supermajority requirement was on the helpful finish of its life span. McConnell repeatedly warned it could hurt the establishment, and in subsequent years the Kentuckian twice modified the filibuster guidelines to additional ease confirmations for a GOP president.

However Reid had the votes to take advantage of consequential change, with margins Schumer can solely dream of in right now’s carefully contested Senate. In 2013, Manchin’s opposition, together with two different senators, didn’t matter in a chamber the place Reid managed 55 votes and simply wanted a easy majority for a guidelines change.

And with Schumer engaged on the political aspect throughout Reid’s tenure as Democratic chief, the Senate Democrats constructed up a whopping 60-seat majority in 2009, permitting Democrats to cross a lot of the generational well being care reform with out even having to make use of the clunky and limiting finances reconciliation course of. Working carefully with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats’ large majorities then eased the in any other case troublesome circumstances at the beginning of Obama’s presidency.

In the mean time, Schumer is left with 50 seats — severely handicapping what could be accomplished on each Biden’s agenda and to the material of the Senate fully.

In his fights with Republicans, such because the 2013 shutdown over Obamacare, Reid demonstrated to Schumer that Democrats couldn’t give an inch in main partisan confrontations. It was a lesson Schumer took into this 12 months’s battles with Republicans over the debt restrict and McConnell’s preliminary refusal to prepare the 50-50 Senate with out concessions. Although Schumer faces the longest 50-50 Senate ever and the grueling pandemic, Reid was confronted with heading off fiscal calamity in the course of the Nice Recession and a hardline GOP technique to cease Obama’s agenda fully in its tracks.

Remembering Reid, Schumer known as him “my chief, my mentor, one among my dearest pals.” The 2 continued talking usually since Reid left workplace.

Reid’s and Schumer’s politics shifted alongside one another and inside an more and more left-leaning Democratic Occasion. As soon as seen with deep suspicion by liberals, Schumer has largely shed his repute as a Wall Road-friendly Democrat. Throughout his final time period, Reid kicked his longtime conservative bona fides to the curb. Reid’s majority was stacked with moderates from crimson states; Schumer’s senators from Arizona and Georgia replicate the brand new course of the celebration.

And Reid ended up a champion of filibuster reform, predicting the legislative filibuster was on its approach out in current months. Schumer, too, now overtly speaks about guidelines reform, however to get there he must persuade Manchin to leap with him — one thing Reid by no means achieved.

The 2 Democratic leaders dealt with Manchin in completely completely different fashions. When Reid left the Senate in 2016, Manchin overtly aired frustration with the combative Nevada Democrat, blasting him for criticizing the election of former President Donald Trump. Right now, Manchin is way extra snug with Schumer’s accommodating vibe than Reid’s hard-nosed management ways. Nonetheless, each few days Democrats marvel if extra strain on Manchin could be obligatory.

When he determined to retire in 2015 following a painful train harm, Reid moved shortly to cement his legacy. He endorsed Schumer as his successor and promptly backed Catherine Cortez Masto to succeed him in Nevada. His political machine ensured she received each the first and the overall election; the battleground state has turn out to be one among Democrats’ brightest spots prior to now decade.

It’s all a part of Reid’s remarkably efficient file as celebration chief, which nonetheless chafed a few of his colleagues. Six Senate Democrats voted in opposition to him in his final management election after Democrats misplaced the Senate in 2014, a signal of how polarizing he was throughout the Democratic Occasion.


But even throughout that interval of discontent, Democrats credited Reid with having the celebration’s finest pursuits in thoughts as he drew relentless warmth from Republicans for not permitting extra modification votes.

“If there have been errors made, they have been errors that got here from Harry Reid which means effectively. And by that, he was attempting to guard members from troublesome political votes,” mentioned former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) in an interview after the 2014 election.

Schumer, alternatively, steadily preaches celebration unity as a energy and takes shut discover of his members, typically calling them up when he reads an eyebrow-raising quote within the paper. Reid knew early on that the 2 shut pals approached management in a different way.

“He’ll be a good chief. He received’t be like me, we’re completely different,” Reid predicted in a 2016 interview. “Two completely different personalities. He’s a press man, I’m not.”

The place Schumer is methodical, Reid was spontaneous, firing off fiery quotes in hallway interviews, press conferences and on the Senate flooring. He hardly ever dodged questions. In what was anticipated to be a humdrum press convention in 2014, he casually defined he wasn’t going to place Obama’s fast-track commerce invoice up for a vote. He showered Mitt Romney with doubtful assaults on the Senate flooring in 2012.

And Reid was unrepentant about his ways a few years later. He explained the entire Romney episode in blunt black and white: “Romney didn’t win, did he?”

His frustrations that Democrats had didn’t cease Trump in related trend significantly bothered Reid. As he left workplace, he excoriated Trump as a “sexual predator who misplaced the favored vote.” However though he was nonetheless the minority chief, Reid additionally started largely deferring to Schumer in his ultimate weeks in workplace.

As Reid ready to retire in December of 2016, Schumer was instantly confronted with a powerful struggle. Many Democrats needed to guard coal miner advantages and have been even speaking about voting in opposition to funding the federal government to make their level. Ultimately, Schumer helped Senate Democrats get their concern visibility within the press however didn’t power a shutdown struggle. All through the drama, Reid principally let his successor deal with it.

And for the primary time Democrats requested themselves: What would Harry Reid have accomplished?

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button