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November 18, 2017

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Reid sets Congressional service record today


J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks with reporters following a Democratic strategy session at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012.

Sen. Harry Reid hits a milestone today, becoming Nevada's longest-serving member of Congress, with 10,957 days tenure — or just about 30 years.

He will likely be marking the occasion by wrapping up business for the 112th Congress.

Reid came to Congress as a member of the House of Representatives in 1983, after being elected to represent Nevada's 1st Congress District in the first session Nevada had a two-seat delegation.

He didn't stay long — only two terms — before winning a Senate seat in 1986. It's there that he built his career, becoming the Democrats' whip in 1999 and taking over leadership of the party six years later. Reid has served in his current post, senate majority leader, for a full six years and is heading into his seventh — at which point he will have been in the post longer than famous predecessors Lyndon B. Johnson or Robert C. Byrd (though not quite as long as Mike Mansfield of Montana, who held the post for 16 years).

Reid's built a reputation over that time as a dealmaker in both policy and politics. In 2001, he orchestrated the Democrats' move into the majority of the Senate by offering his Environment and Public Works committee chairmanship to entice Sen. Jim Jeffords over from the Republican to the Democratic side of the aisle. Since President Barack Obama was elected to the White House, he's been the primary executor of his policies in Congress, from the stimulus and health care bills in 2009 to a financial restructuring deal in 2010 and a series of fiscal measures since.

In setting the Nevada delegation record, Reid bypassed Republican Sen. John P. Jones, whose term stretched from 1873 to 1903. That's also 30 years, but back in those days, Senate sessions had later start dates: Jones started on March 4 his first year, while Reid's started on Jan. 3. Reid still has about four years to go before he bests Jones for longest-serving Nevada Senator – a record that should just about line up with the end of his present term in 2016.

Presently, Reid has the third-longest service record of any Nevada senator, coming in behind Jones and William Stewart, one of Nevada's first elected senators in 1863 who departed the Senate in 1875, only to return in 1887 and stick around until 1905. Stewart is credited with writing the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, which states that citizens should not be denied their rights "on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude."

Reid passed Stewart as the second-longest serving lawmaker in Congress in 2011. He only has about a year to go to catch up with Stewart's record in the Senate.

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