Has been involved in several serious ethics scandals
Vocal critic of former President George W. Bush and the Iraq War
In April 2007, he said that the Iraq War was "lost."
Believes that human industrial activity is destroying the natural environment and causing "global warming"
Harry Mason Reid was born in December 1939 in Searchlight, Nevada. A member of the Mormon Church, Reid attended Southern Utah University and Utah State University. He went on to earn a law degree from George Washington University and then took a job as a city attorney in Henderson, Nevada.
In 1967 Reid, a Democrat, was elected to the Nevada State Assembly. From 1970-1974 he served as the state’s lieutenant governor. In 1974 he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate, and a year later he lost an election for Las Vegas mayor.
From 1977 to 1981, Reid chaired the Nevada Gaming Commission. In 1982 he was elected to represent Nevada’s First Congressional District (based in Las Vegas) in the House of Representatives, where he served two terms. In 1986 he won a seat (representing Nevada) in the U.S. Senate, where he has been re-elected every six years since then.
From 1999 to 2005, Reid was the Senate Democratic Whip and he chaired the Senate Ethics Committee from 2001 to 2003. He was Senate Minority Leader from 2005 until the 2006 congressional elections, when the Democrats took control of the Senate; he then became Senate Majority Leader.
Over the course of his political career, Reid has been implicated in several serious ethics scandals. For the details, click here.
During the Bush administration, Reid was one of the Senate’s most vocal critics of the Iraq War. In April 2007, shortly after President Bush had initiated a “surge” that sent 21,000 additional troops to combat the insurgent violence in Iraq, Reid, counseling American surrender, stated publicly: “I believe ... that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything.”
On the environmental front, Reid strongly believes that human industrial activity is destroying the planet. In June 2008, he said, “Coal makes us sick. Oil makes us sick. And this global warming is ruining our country. It’s ruining the world.” That same year, Reid advocated a ban on all oil exploration in the massive shale depositories of America’s western states, which are estimated to hold between 800 billion and 2 trillion barrels of oil.
In 2008, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), a non-partisan government watchdog group, named Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as its “Porkers of the Year” because of what CAGW viewed as their consistent record of fiscal irresponsibility.
Reid supports the passage of an immigration-reform bill that would create a path to citizenship for all illeal immigrants currently residing in the United States. In June 2009, he vowed "to do comprehensive immigration reform" -- not in a "piecemeal" fashion but rather "all at once." His policy, he said, would "include taking care of our borders, a decent guest-worker program, bringing the 11 million people out of the shadows, doing something that's so important with the employer sanctions bill ..."
In a December 7, 2009 speech from the Senate floor, Reid likened Republicans who opposed the implementation of healthcare reform to people who had opposed the abolition of slavery in centuries past:
“Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all the Republicans can come up with is, ‘Slow down, stop everything, let’s start over.’ If you think you’ve heard these same excuses before, you’re right. When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said, ‘Slow down, it’s too early, things aren’t bad enough.’”
In January 2010, it was reported that a forthcoming book -- Game Change, by Mark Halperin -- quoted Senator Reid as having said during the 2008 presidential campaign that Barack Obama stood a good chance of winning because he is "light-skinned" and has "no negro dialect -- unless he wants to." Reid quickly issued a public apology for his remarks, saying: "I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words. I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans for my improper comments."
On September 14, 2010, Reid announced that he would add the DREAM Act -- which is designed to allow illegal-alien students to attend college at the reduced tuition rates normally reserved for in-state legal residents, and to earn conditional permanent residency and a path to citizenship -- onto a defense policy bill which the Senate was scheduled to consider the following week. Reid's hope was to force Republicans who wished to vote in favor of the defense bill — a measure that would normally pass with bipartisan support — to also vote for the DREAM Act.
On October 21, 2010, Reid told interviewer Ed Schultz that most voters in his state, because they personally were having financial struggles, were unable to appreciate the fact that "[b]ut for me, we'd be in a worldwide depression." Reid was referring to the economic policies which he had pushed through the Senate since the economic downturn of 2008.
In July 2012, shortly after President Obama had announced his decision to extend the Bush tax cuts for another year for people earning $250,000 or less (while allow the tax cuts to expire for those earning more), Reid sidelined a Senate vote on Obama's proposal. "It's the help Paris Hilton legislation," he said. "It would give people like her a tax break for doing nothing — $46 billion of the American people's money to help Paris Hilton and others."
For an overview of key votes that Reid has cast during his Senate career, click here.
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