Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a longtime Democratic member of Congress, said he’s retiring at the end of his term. He made his announcement on YouTube on Friday.
So, what happens now?
First, Reid isn’t stepping down immediately. In the video, he took a shot at his rival, Republican Senate Majority Leader, saying he’s “going to be here for twenty-two months” more.
Meanwhile, he will remain as the Democratic leader until the end of 2016, which is when the current Congress adjourns.
It’s still unclear who will replace Reid, 75, as Senate Minority Leader.
Currently, the most powerful Democrats in the Senate are Sen. Chuck Schumer, 64, of New York and Sen. Dick Durbin, 70, of Illinois. The New York Times on Friday reported that Schumer is the favorite to succeed Reid as the Democrat’s party leader.
Previously, Reid said he believed that he would run for reelection, saying he would easily be able to recapture his seat. But a severe eye injury that left him nearly blind in one eye forced him to reevaluate his life.
“I’ve had time to ponder and to think. We’ve got to be more concerned about the country, the Senate, the state of Nevada than us,” Reid said in the video. “And as a result of that, I’m not going to run for reelection.”
In January, Reid suffered several injuries during an accident while he was exercising.
As a result, Reid said it made him want to retire. “I want to be able to go out at the top of my game,” Reid told the New York Times, making a sports analogy that refers to athletes who are way past their prime. “I don’t want to be a 42-year-old trying to become a designated hitter.”
After Reid’s announcement, Schumer issued a statement, saying: Harry is one of the best human beings I’ve ever met.”
Schumer said, “He has left a major mark on this body, this country, and on so many who have met him, gotten to know him, and love him.”
Since returning to work after his fall, Reid has struggled to regain sight in his right eye, appearing in the Capitol in bandages and then with his eye shielded by tinted glasses. He told The Associated Press early this month that the injury was “a tremendous inconvenience,” but nothing more, and not enough to stop him from seeking re-election.
“I’ve had black eyes before,” said Reid, who was an accomplished amateur boxer in his youth.
In his statement, Reid cited the need to “be more concerned about the country, the Senate, the state of Nevada than about ourselves. And as a result of that I’m not going to run for re-election.”
Reid said his role leading the Senate Democrats is “just as important as being the majority leader” and he would remain focused on that for the nearly two years left in his term.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.