Sen. Harry Reid is retiring next year and his farewell gave us the opportunity to witness something we rarely see in Congress: cross-party civility.
“We’re friends. Everyone, I know you don’t like this story, but Mitch McConnell and I are friends,” Reid said during his portrait unveiling ceremony.
The Senate Democratic leader noted he’s built up a rapport with his Republican counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell, over the decades they’ve spent in the Senate together.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, speaks during a news conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016. Hillary Clinton pulled out a victory over Bernie Sanders in Nevadas Democratic caucuses that will help right her campaign as both candidates head into a 10-day blitz of crucial contests starting next Saturday in South Carolina.
(Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., leans on a stack of documents pertaining to campaign finance reform during a Capitol Hill news conference Tuesday, December 3, 1996, where the Democratic leadership for the 105th Congress was announced. The documents represent the hearings and legislation involved in campaign finance reform, which Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle of South Dakota said would be the Democrats top priority in the 105th Congress.
(AP Photo/Dennis Cook)
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., right, talks to reporters, as actor Mike Farrell, left, looks on, as the men urged rejection of a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, in the Capitol, Tuesday, June 4, 2002, in Washington.
(AP Photo/Kenneth Lambert)
FILE – In this March 17, 2015 file photo, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Reid thanked likely Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky for dispensing “expert advice” on Reid’s injured right eye. “I really appreciate it very, very much,” the Nevada Democrat said to Paul, a Republican senator and opthamologist who was taking his turn presiding over the chamber Wednesday. “I want the people of Kentucky to know that, how thoughtful, considerate and kind you’ve been to me over these months,” Reid told Paul. On New Year’s Day, Reid injured the right side of his face while exercising and has had surgery to restore the sight in his eye. (AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. Reid, the U.S. Senate’s top Democrat, will have surgery next Monday to try to restore full vision to his right eye. Reid suffered three broken ribs, a concussion and broken facial bones near his right eye socket in a New Year’s Day accident. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images ** Local Caption *** Harry Reid
It’s a relationship we don’t often get to see, for professional reasons.
“I have never seen anything more craven than Mitch McConnell and what he’s done to our democracy,” Reid said during the Democratic National Convention.
McConnell, in turn, blasted Reid for changing the Senate’s rules on filibusters in 2013, telling Politico, “I think he did a lot of damage to the institution and further soured relations.”
Things can sometimes get personal: A closed-door legislative meeting between Reid and McConnell in 2015 ended with Reid storming off in a huff. It lead to a period of protracted partisan sniping in the Senate.
But now that Reid’s on his way out, the senators can afford to show a little more civility.
“If there’s one thing we know about Harry, it’s that he doesn’t give up easily,” McConnell said.
And Reid said, “I don’t like what he does a lot of the time; he doesn’t like what I do most of the time. But that’s OK. We understand what our jobs are.”