WASHINGTON — When Harry Reid retires in 2017 after serving for 12 years as Senate Democratic leader, the calculating and blunt-spoken Nevadan will leave behind a legacy that could end up transforming the United States far beyond his wildest dreams — or worst nightmares.
For now, his contributions to passing Obamacare — an arduous task that required the votes of all 60 Democratic senators in late 2009 — stand as his most far-reaching achievement, paving the way for more than 16 million Americans to gain health coverage. It was the sort of bill that presidents had been trying to pass for nearly a century, and most credit its enactment to President Barack Obama.
But in the long-term, the former boxer who became known for his iron-fisted rule over the Senate as majority leader may be remembered most for deploying the so-called "nuclear option" on Nov. 21, 2013, to abolish the filibuster for most nominations, and arguably setting the stage for killing the 60-vote threshold entirely.
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