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Meet the Woman Leading Biden’s Bipartisan Winning Streak on Capitol Hill


The Biden administration managed to amass a long list of major legislative victories in its first two years, despite facing one of the most tightly divided Congresses in history.
From bipartisan action on infrastructure, gun safety, and same-sex marriage to intraparty bills to tackle climate change and expand health care coverage, President Joe Biden and voting Democrats are all on the move to the middle. He was keen to advertise his campaign path during the election.

But far from the spotlight is the woman who helped make it all happen, Louisa Terrell.

As Director of the White House Legislative Office, Terrell, 53, leads a team that is the President’s collective eyes and ears in Congress.

“We’re aware of what’s going on in this building and we’re making sure we’re proactively responding,” Terrell told CNN, standing in front of the Capitol building to describe his job. . Although she works at the White House.

She describes her role as a conductor for moving Biden’s agenda through Congress.

“You want to talk to committees and caucuses. Who are the leaders talking to? Who are the up-and-comers? What’s floor action? What’s running fast? And you need all these kinds of tentacles out there and bring them back every day.

But unlike the real conductor, who is the heart of the orchestra, Terrell has a great deal going on behind the scenes.

In fact, when we sat down for our conversation in the White House Executive Building, she said this was her first televised interview.

Terrell’s years of experience in Washington were critical to her success. She first started working for The Hill more than 20 years before her, as a staff member of Sen at the time. Biden on the Judiciary Committee. Looking back, she described her then self as just a “gal from Delaware” and was in awe of the experienced legal clerks and experienced staff that surrounded her. rice field. She quickly found her own footing and thrived, she served as Biden’s deputy chief of staff and later worked in the Obama administration’s Legal Affairs Bureau. This is the team she currently leads.

In 2011, under the Obama administration, Louisa's children visited the East Wing office.

But even with an extensive resume, Terrell is quick to admit that navigating Washington today is harder than it was when she first arrived 20 years ago.

“I think extremes are becoming extremes and it’s getting harder,” she said. “I really have to work harder to find a place to meet on the way.”

Being able to tap into the personal relationships she’s built over the years in the Capitol is crucial to finding that middle ground across the aisle, especially given the very thin Democratic majority. It has been proved.

“I’ll be very clear about where the president is and why we want to see what we want to do,” she said of her conversations with Republicans. Whether it’s us on our team or a high-ranking official, when we say a word, we know we’ll keep it. I think it was very important to

Deep relationships are also important, she said.

“You get fuel from other people you work with. I have.”

It’s the job of a president’s success or failure, and much of it is unannounced, but not unnoticed. After being confirmed by the Supreme Court as the first black judge, Ketanji Brown-Jackson included in her shoutout as one of the “great people” who helped Terrell make the historic achievement possible. .

Terrell’s longest relationship in the White House is with the president himself. Their professional relationship began when she came to Washington 20 years ago, but she was only five years old when she first met Biden.

“I met Beau Biden in kindergarten,” the Wilmington native said with a smile. “It was a short bike ride from my house to where Bo grew up. So we were childhood friends (and) remained friends… well into adulthood.

She remembers visiting the Biden family as a child and sharing jokes from her childhood with CNN.

“When we went to Bo’s house, there was a fax machine in the living room. “Again, this was Delaware and probably the first fax machine in Delaware. It’s a high tech piece of equipment.”

Louisa Terrell (bottom left) and Beau Biden (top left) in Wilmington, Delaware, in the 1980s.

Terrell’s lifelong relationship with the Biden family means she brings a unique perspective to her work at the White House.

“He knows my family and is just connected in that way,” she said. “You know where the person is from. I think that helps.”

“It brings warmth to the work. I feel very lucky,” she added.

Terrell says he always thinks of his friend Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015.

“You… want to express what the president wants from you,” she said. and they are some of the driving forces behind how we work.”

After two years on the Judiciary Commission, Terrell became pregnant. She says Biden’s office maintained her family-first culture. But as she continued her career in Washington, her children got a little older and her balancing act became more complicated.

“When my kids were 6 or 8 or 4 or 6 years old, I was working in the Obama administration. It’s all a bit of a blur,” she joked.

She describes her time after work as “bed, bath, and beyond.” As an older woman in a managerial position, she is especially careful.

“I look around the White House and I see women with kids that age, and you really have to remember (the length of their days and nights).” Think about the kind of performance and 100% that you have.I am filled with gratitude and respect.”

Women at the table isn’t just a term in Terrell’s office. When CNN stopped by one of her team’s meetings in the West Wing, the room was packed with young staff. Most were women. Terrell says it was a conscious decision because they were the best for the job, not because of their gender.

“(The) expectation is to be ready to contribute. That’s what I’m saying – be ready, be ready to play,” she said of the younger staff. don’t be afraid to do it.”

But when asked what advice he would give to young women starting work in government today, Terrell didn’t hesitate.

“I think women today are much braver than I am,” she said. “It’s really impressive. So I don’t think they need my advice. I’m glad I got to drink it,” she said with a laugh.

Terrell and her team are negotiating the final weeks of negotiations for the Democratic House majority on their knees. This means competing priorities for the rest of the lame duck sessions. Chief among them is Congress’ basic function of funding the government.

Terrell’s work at Facebook raised some questions among some advocacy groups as some Democrats sought to enact laws regulating social media companies, but Terrell His work at a tech giant a decade ago is consistent with the president’s legislative agenda.

“I think the president took office and campaigned very much about pro-competition, accountability and transparency on social media platforms. Clearly, social media platforms today are different than they were 10 years ago. We are working really hard to facilitate these administrative actions, regulatory actions and the people we have brought into administration to work on them, we are working hard on the legislative work and we hope to continue to do so next year.”

While the Democratic majority in the Senate will expand slightly in January, Terrell’s office is at the forefront as Republicans prepare to take over the House and launch a wave of congressional investigations into Biden officials.

“Obviously there will be a big part of ‘This is an oversight.’ You’ve heard this. ‘We’re watching.’ That’s to be expected.” “What do you think of the views of the president and the team here, you can’t overwhelm the boat with something like that.”

“I think the president said he was ready to work with anyone who wanted to work with him. I hope you don’t fall down the rabbit hole.”

She claims her team’s relationship with Republicans as well as Democrats pays off.

“We’ve been working on our relationship with Republicans all along,” she said. “We have people in that store and here in the White House who have that relationship.

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