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Members of Congress honor Harry Reid as he lies in state in Capitol Rotunda

"Harry was tough as nails, a fighter to his core, but one of the most compassionate individuals you could ever imagine," said Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Image: Harry Reid
Harry Reid stands during his portrait unveiling on Capitol Hill, on Dec. 8, 2016.Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress honored the life of the late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at a ceremony Wednesday as he lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., shared several stories about his former colleague during the event, including that Reid never said "goodbye" at the end of phone conversations and would just hang up. He joked that Reid was "allergic" to new technology.

"But what Harry was really allergic to was the artifice of politics, that he considered a distraction from his true passion: getting good things done in this Capitol," Schumer said. "Harry was tough as nails, a fighter to his core, but one of the most compassionate individuals you could ever imagine."

"In short, he was one of the most incredible and generous individuals I've ever met; the sort of person you come across only a couple of times in your life," he said.

In her remarks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in her remarks that she spoke on the phone with Reid nearly every day while Congress was in session, sometimes several times a day.

"I probably hold the record for being hung up on more than anybody," she joked, adding that, "many times I would call him back and say, 'Harry, I was only beginning to thank you and praise you for what you had done.'"

She said Reid would respond, "'I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear it.'"

"He was so modest," Pelosi said. "Needless to say his humility made him, some would say, unique in the political arena. It also made him truly beloved."

Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, attended the ceremony. Harris, who previously represented California in the Senate, was sworn in just as Reid was retiring from Congress, so she did not serve with the Nevada Democrat.

The event comes after President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama commemorated Reid at his memorial service over the weekend in Las Vegas. Biden did not attend the Capitol ceremony on Wednesday morning, but he arrived at the Capitol in the afternoon to pay his respects at the lying in state of the former Senate leader.

Reid, 82, who battled pancreatic cancer, died in late December at his home in Henderson, Nevada.

“Let there be no doubt. Harry Reid will be considered one of the greatest Senate majority leaders in history,” Biden said Saturday at Reid’s memorial service, as leaders pointed to his work on Obamacare and Wall Street reform following the 2008 recession.

Obama said that when Reid helped pass the Affordable Care Act through Congress, “he didn’t do it to burnish his own legacy.”

“He did it for the people back home and families like his, who needed somebody looking out for them, when nobody else did. Harry got things done,” the former president said.

Reid, who was first elected to the House in 1982, served in Congress longer than anyone else in Nevada history. He retired from the Senate in 2016.