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Nevada Senator Harry Reid missed his demotion from Senate Majority Leader to minority leader after doctors ordered him to stay home from the first day of the 114th Congress earlier this week.
He is recovering from injuries suffered while exercising at his new Las Vegas home. He suffered broken bones in his face and four broken ribs when a resistance band that he uses in his regular routine broke throwing him backwards and hitting him in the face, narrowly missing his temple.
The senator told KNPR’s State of Nevada he may not recover the sight in his right eye but he and his doctors are hopeful.
He is now working from home and says he is doing a good job of directing his crew. He said the injuries have not changed his decision to run for office again.
Many critics have pointed to the accident as a sign that the senator is not physically able to take a leadership role. The senator disputed that criticism saying he’s as strong has ever.
“No one should question my physical ability. I’ve always been fairly confident in my ability to fight back. I’ll continue to fight back,” Reid said. “I’m in the process of setting up for the next go-around.”
And in that ‘next go-around’ the Senate will have a lot to grapple with, including the Keystone Pipeline, which the House approved Friday.
Senator Reid said the pipeline will not create the number of jobs supporters say it will. He said it would only create about 35 permanent jobs.
“To say that this would be good for jobs is like saying red is white,” the senator said, “There is just no possibility it’s going to be good for the economy and it certainly is not good for the environment.”
Reid said he would support President Barack Obama’s veto of the project.
The senator actually laughed when asked about the Republican effort to take credit for better economic news. He told KNPR’s State of Nevada that to say he disagreed with the Republicans is a “gross understatement.”
The new Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell said the improved economic data was attributed to the expectation of Republican leadership in Congress.
“They have done things to hurt the economy,” Reid said, “If they had cooperated with us even a little bit the economy would have been stronger than it is now.”
Now, he wants lawmakers to focus on helping working Americans.
A report released Friday showed the U.S. capped its best year for hiring in 15 years with a healthy job gain in December and the unemployment rate falling to a six-year low. The data adds to signs of strength that contrast with sputtering global growth.
In a statement released Friday morning about the job numbers, the senator said it is important that those job gains are felt by working Americans.
“To do that, Democrats and Republicans must put aside petty partisanship and work together to increase wages, improve mobility and ensure that a hard day's work results in a fair day's pay for both men and women,” Reid said.
The labor report showed that wage growth remains weak. Average hourly pay slipped 5 cents.
“The rich are getting richer.” Reid said, “Who needs the help are the middle class. Wages are not keeping up.”
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV., Senate Minority Leader