Sen. Harry Reid showed a softie side last week
saying goodbye to his longtime personal secretary.
Reid, D-Nev., halted partway through a tribute to Janice Shelton, his executive assistant for the past 25 years who is retiring and whose final day in the Capitol was Thursday. His voice cracked, he wiped his eyes with his handkerchief, and the CSPAN camera cut away briefly while he composed himself.
Shelton was honored at the Reid office Christmas party last week, and the senator said in his speech Thursday he thought he and Shelton "had shed all the tears we were going to. I guess that wasn't true."
Shelton grew into Reid's family over the years. Reid told his sons if they needed him in an emergency she always knew where he was. When Reid's wife, Landra, was in a serious car accident in 2010, it was Shelton who broke into a Reid health care meeting and told him the news.
Reid invoked his mentor, former Nevada Gov. Mike O'Callaghan, who once told him the one quality that can't be bought is loyalty.
"There is no one who has ever been more loyal to me than Janice Shelton," Reid said.
The Reid speech was just one part of an emotional week in the Senate, well apart from the impasse over the looming fiscal cliff.
The chamber opened on Monday with a moment of silence to the victims of the Newtown, Conn., shooting.
Just hours later, there was fresh mourning at the news that Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, had died, and his passing provided an emotional undercurrent in the days that followed. Inouye, the most senior senator who had served for 50 years, was honored in a Capitol Rotunda ceremony Thursday and at Washington National Cathedral on Friday before his body was returned to Hawaii.
Announcing Inouye's death to senators, Reid recalled the two had gotten together a week earlier in the Hawaii senator's office, "just the two of us alone."
"We ended the meeting with both of us saying, 'You know, we need to do this again,' " Reid said. "Well, I won't be able to do that again. He won't be able to do that again."
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