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


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

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Reid as soon as notably took to the Senate floor together in 2015 to dispute the tone of a POLITICO story on their relationship, which was scraping all-time low. But remembering Reid on Tuesday, McConnell put it this fashion: “When Harry retired from the Senate, we both celebrated the fact that our many differences had never really gotten personal.”

“The nature of Harry’s and my jobs introduced us into frequent and typically intense battle over politics and coverage. But 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.

Yet their battles set the stage for right this moment’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. Those dominoes started falling after Reid invoked the so-called nuclear choice in 2013, eliminating the filibuster on most nominations. It was some of the consequential choices 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 might hurt the establishment, and in subsequent years the Kentuckian twice modified the filibuster guidelines to additional ease confirmations for a GOP president.

But Reid had the votes to take advantage of consequential change, with margins Schumer can solely dream of in right this moment’s carefully contested Senate. In 2013, Manchin’s opposition, along with two other 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 go a lot of the generational well being care reform with out even having to make use of the clunky and limiting funds reconciliation course of. Working carefully with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats’ huge majorities then eased the in any other case troublesome circumstances at first of Obama’s presidency.

At the second, Schumer is left with 50 seats — severely handicapping what might be executed 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 arrange the 50-50 Senate with out concessions. Though 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 Great Recession and a hardline GOP technique to cease Obama’s agenda fully in its tracks.

Remembering Reid, Schumer known as him “my leader, my mentor, one of my dearest friends.” The two continued talking recurrently since Reid left workplace.

Reid’s and Schumer’s politics shifted alongside one another and inside an more and more left-leaning Democratic Party. Once seen with deep suspicion by liberals, Schumer has largely shed his status as a Wall Street-friendly Democrat. During his final time period, Reid kicked his longtime conservative bona fides to the curb. Reid’s majority was stacked with moderates from pink states; Schumer’s senators from Arizona and Georgia replicate the brand new path 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 completed.

The two Democratic leaders dealt with Manchin in completely totally 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. Today, Manchin is much extra comfy with Schumer’s accommodating vibe than Reid’s hard-nosed management techniques. Nonetheless, each few days Democrats surprise if extra strain on Manchin is perhaps needed.

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 final election; the battleground state has develop into certainly one of Democrats’ brightest spots up 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 against him in his last leadership election after Democrats misplaced the Senate in 2014, a signal of how polarizing he was inside the Democratic Party.

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

“If there were mistakes made, they were mistakes that came from Harry Reid meaning well. And by that, he was trying to protect members from difficult political votes,” mentioned former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) in an interview after the 2014 election.

Schumer, then again, regularly preaches celebration unity as a power 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 another way.

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

Where Schumer is methodical, Reid was spontaneous, firing off fiery quotes in hallway interviews, press conferences and on the Senate ground. He not often dodged questions. In what was anticipated to be a humdrum press convention in 2014, he casually explained 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 ground in 2012.

And Reid was unrepentant about his techniques 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 comparable style enormously bothered Reid. As he left workplace, he excoriated Trump as a “sexual predator who lost the popular vote.” But though he was nonetheless the minority chief, Reid additionally started largely deferring to Schumer in his last weeks in workplace.

As Reid ready to retire in December of 2016, Schumer was instantly confronted with a robust struggle. Many Democrats wished to guard coal miner advantages and had been even speaking about voting towards funding the federal government to make their level. In the tip, Schumer helped Senate Democrats get their subject visibility within the press however didn’t power a shutdown struggle. Throughout the drama, Reid principally let his successor deal with it.

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



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