WASHINGTON — If Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) gets his way, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) would take his place in 2017 to become the first Jew in the top leadership position.
“I think Schumer should be able to succeed me,” Reid said Friday in an interview with The Washington Post after making a surprise announcement that he would not seek reelection in 2016.
Schumer entered what is so far a one-man race for the position later that day, expressing his gratitude to Reid.
“I thank Harry Reid for his friendship, counsel, and steadfast leadership of our caucus over the last 10 years, and I look forward to continuing to work right alongside him for the remainder of this Congress,” Schumer said in a statement. “I am honored and humbled to have the support of so many of my colleagues and look forward to our Senate Democratic caucus continuing to fight for the middle class.”
The longtime senator is known for his tough and hardworking persona, fundraising prowess and strategic acumen.
Due to his seniority, heavily Jewish constituency and outspoken nature, Schumer has been the leading pro-Israel voice among Senate Democrats. This includes taking strong stands on issues of concern for the Jewish community, such as Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
This stance in particular — Schumer co-sponsored the Nuclear Free Iran Act and the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act — has put him at odds with President Barack Obama, who has promised to veto both bills.
Schumer also went against Obama and many Democrats in February, when he called on his Democratic colleagues to attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial March 3 speech to Congress. Schumer then praised Netanyahu’s speech while many in his party characterized the appearance as an insult to the president.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress was powerful, particularly the recitation of Iran’s perpetration of continued acts of terrorism,” Schumer wrote in a statement following Netanyahu’s address. “While the final details of the Iranian deal have not been disclosed, we must do everything we can to prevent a nuclear Iran, which would be a disaster for Israel, the Middle East and potentially extremely harmful to the United States.”