Speed Reads

the woman behind the curtain

How Louisa Terrell, Biden's legislative 'secret weapon,' charms Congress

You know what they say — behind every great infrastructure bill or American Rescue Plan is White House director of the office of legislative affairs, Louisa Terrell.

As President Biden's "congressional fixer and legislative guide," Terrell's tenuous job is to ensure proposals from the White House survive the journey from Congress "back to the president's desk to become law," writes The Guardian. But in such a "deeply divided political landscape," how does Terrell, Biden's "secret weapon," effectively navigate the congressional maze and come out the other side with a bipartisan deal?

"You gotta be realistic," Terrell told The Guardian. "There are places where there are synergies and there are places where we're just going to agree to disagree, so let's just look around in the backyard and see if there are some things that we can work on." She added, "There are lots of ways of engaging even if you're not trying to dig through a really hard policy issue."

Furthermore, Terrell makes sure her team appeals to the different wings and factions of each party, rather than lumping every Democrat and every Republican together. "When we're all talking together about what our approach is, we try to be kind of really personal and as specific as we can," she said. "And I think the same thing for Republicans. They don't just all bunch together."

Terrell also takes into account the length of tenure for each lawmaker, many of whom view her with a certain degree of respect given her proximity to the president. Sarah Bianchi, Biden's nominee for deputy trade representative, said that's how Terrell maintains her credibility. She added, a strong relationship with Biden "makes a big difference, particularly in that role."