The date is finally set. The retiring Harry Reid will be giving his farewell address on Thursday.
Outgoing Senate minority leader Harry Reid will give his final speech Thursday morning in the Senate chamber. Majority leader Mitch McConnell and Republican Sen. Deal Heller (Reid's fellow senator from Nevada) will also be giving speeches in his honor. In the evening, there will be a reception in the Kennedy Caucus Room at the Russell Senate Office Building. The occasion will be a star-studded event of Democrats including Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and Charles Schumer.
A portrait of the Nevada Democrat will be also be unveiled – a perk that usually isn’t afforded to former lawmakers until several years into retirement.
The send-off comes as Senate leaders hope for the week to be the end of their 2016 lame duck period. It will be the end of Reid’s final legislative session as he retires after 30 years in the upper chamber - spending the final 12 as Democratic leader. He is tied for the third-longest serving Senate leader.
Being the divisive statesman he was, it’s not certain how many Republicans will even be attending the event. Reid may be remembered by members of his party as a legislative leader who worked to keep major tenets of Obama’s agenda in place, but many in the GOP will look back at him for his discordant behavior and rhetoric.
Many still remember his unfounded claim in 2012 accusing former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney of not paying taxes in years. When confronted after the election about the assertions – he simply laughed it off. More recently, Reid has taken to vivid insults of president-elect Trump – calling him a racist and an overweight, spoiled brat. Mad at the world because Clinton lost, Reid even referred to FBI director James Comey as a “Republican operative" in one post-election interview.
Reid apparently has no plans to lobby or do any sort of D.C. work following retirement – riding off into the sunset in Nevada.
Some of Harry Reid’s legacy will live on, however. During his time as majority leader of the Senate, Reid ended the 60-vote threshold rule for most presidential appointments. He wanted to prevent filibusters and make it easier for Obama to push through his nominations in the Senate.
Now with Trump entering the White House, the president-elect will only need a simple majority to usher in his own administration.
So for that - we thank you, Harry.