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July 18, 2019

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POLITICS:

How Harry Reid handled health care

Senate news conference on health care

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., left, accompanied by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., right, and Senate Democrats, gestures during a health care news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009.

Senate passes health care

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, center, answers questions outside of the Senate chambers on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009, after the Senate passed the health care reform bill. From left are, Senate Finance Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., Reid, Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin of Ill., and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn. Launch slideshow »

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s position at the center of the debate over the proposed overhaul of health care is generating cheers and jeers across the nation and in Nevada this week.

• “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid morphed into Santa Claus, giving out presents to the little boys and girls who were naughty and (not so) nice this year. Of course, he was not using his own money. America’s overused credit card, issued by the Bank of China, may have to be used one more time to pay for Reid’s deals.”

— CNN’s senior political contributor Ed Rollins. He also was White House political director for President Ronald Reagan and chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

• “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proved his skills as a behind-closed-doors negotiator by cutting a deal with Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson that gave Democrats the 60 votes they need to pass health care reform this week ... To Reid, the Senate is just a swap meet.”

— Kent Hoover, in a Portfolio.com story titled “Harry the Horse Trader”

• “Did the road to passage really have to be this rocky? The shape of the legislation — and specifically, the fact that there were never going to be 60 votes in the Senate for a government-run public option — has been clear for months. So why did Reid insist upon taking the public option to the Senate floor as part of the initial bill he introduced, making the fight even messier and at times seriously jeopardizing Dems’ chances of passing such a landmark bill?”

— Karen Tumulty for Time

• “The much-pilloried Harry Reid led an increasingly undemocratic and dysfunctional institution to a stunning victory for the majority party. He deserves an apology from any number of prominent Washingtonians.”

— Thomas E. Mann, Brookings Institution senior fellow, for Politico.com

• “Monday’s vote showed that Reid did just what his critics said he could not. He kept all of his Democratic colleagues together, even though he had to make compromises that many disliked ... ‘It’s a total vindication of Harry Reid’s strategy, which, believe me, he had on track all along,’ said (Sen. Charles) Schumer, D-N.Y.”

— Alexander Bolton for The Hill

• “The Senate’s health care bill is chock-full of favors, payoffs, special deals and exemptions, but Majority Leader Harry Reid is proud of his handiwork, calling it an art form — “the art of compromise” ... But some Democratic senators view such a shameless defense of the bill’s pork elements as throwing them under the bus. Some senators obviously are more equal than others: Not all were able or willing to exploit their leverage to extract crass favors for their states.”

— John Fund for OpinionJournal.com

• “In the last week, Reid was very Johnsonian. When he was the majority leader, (Lyndon) Johnson constantly forced liberals to compromise, warning them to take what was possible rather than perfect or to lose everything. He also used legislative pork as a way to build coalitions that included legislators otherwise unwilling to support bills. This was how he pushed through bills the conservative coalition did not want.”

— Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public policy at Princeton University, speaking to the Sun

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