UNLV history Professor Michael Green called Sen. Harry Reid, who died Tuesday, “possibly the most important Senate leader since Lyndon Johnson.”
As Democratic Leader in the U.S. Senate, Reid guided the Affordable Care Act and Great Recession-era stimulus legislation through Congress. And Green said one of Reid's accomplishments is something that didn't happen: construction of a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, 100 miles from Las Vegas.
"I would say, one of the legacies is we still don't have a nuclear waste dump," Geen said. "A lot of people have been involved in that. But he was the Senate leader and played a leading role in that."
Reid sought to have allies appointed as nuclear industry regulators and worked to reduce funding for the project, which he famously once declared dead.
Reid also developed a reputation for being a Democratic kingmaker. A notable product of “the Reid Machine” is the election of Catherine Cortez Masto, the first Latina U.S. Senator.
“I have to wonder if someone else would have said, ‘all right — we need to build these areas of the Democratic party,” Green told KNPR. “But Reid got this. He got the importance of working with unions, a traditional Democratic bastion. He got the importance of working with people of color, especially the burgeoning Hispanic community here. And he had the clout in Washington to affect change here.”
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