Louisa Terrell — A member of President Joe Biden’s longest-serving staff is expected to leave the White House before the end of July, according to sources. Louisa Terrell is the White House director of legislative affairs, and she was instrumental in putting together a team to serve as the president’s eyes and ears in Congress.
Terrell has a smaller public presence, but she has great authority behind the scenes. She is the president’s official point of contact for everything that transpires on Capitol Hill, with his eyes and ears being served by a staff. Louisa Terrell has been a strong advocate for Vice President Joe Biden’s legislative successes, executive branch appointments, and judicial nominees. Her work for President Barack Obama began when Biden was a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee more than two decades ago.
During Biden’s first two years in office, Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress. During this time, the government was successful in passing a number of bills, including the Covid-focused American Rescue Plan Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act.
Despite the difficulties of assembling a geographically and ideologically diverse Democratic Party on Capitol Hill. That was nothing compared to the work of representing the president in Congress once Republicans took control of the House. The Republican Party’s commitment to supervising and probing the Biden administration, as well as the legislative agenda, has made significant headway.
Following the 2022 midterm elections, Louisa Terrell emphasized the relationships she and her team had discreetly formed with Republicans in order for them to refrain from having “parachute in” to offices of members in key positions on the opposing side of the aisle.
When the Republicans took over the White House, Jeff Zients took over as chief of staff from Ron Klain, and he indicated that he depended so heavily on Terrell that they corresponded even before they arrived at the office in the morning, late at night after they left, and at least five times a day.
Senator Chuck Schumer praised Louisa Terrell’s dedication and strategic involvement, calling it the “cornerstone” of Biden’s administration and the Democratic Party’s historic victory.
“She’s worked tirelessly to help diversify the federal bench, confirm the president’s well qualified and historic nominees, and pass the most aggressive and successful legislative agenda in generations,” said Schumer.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries praised Terrell in a statement, saying:
“On behalf of the House Democratic Caucus, we are tremendously grateful to Louisa Terrell for her partnership as we advanced President Biden’s historic legislative agenda over the last two years. From the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to the Inflation Reduction Act to averting a catastrophic default on our debt, Louisa has been there with us every step of the way.”
Connecting with the Bidens
Louisa Terrell described herself as “just a gal from Delaware” who was in awe of the competent legal clerks and seasoned employees around her when she began her employment as a staff member for then-Senator Biden on the Judiciary Committee following law school. Terrell quickly ascended through the ranks, becoming Vice President Joe Biden’s deputy chief of staff before joining the Obama administration’s Office of Legislative Affairs, where she will serve until her retirement.
Terrell knew Biden before starting work for him. She was Beau Biden’s childhood playmate who rode her bike to the Bidens’ Delaware house. Because of the relationship, she was able to comprehend the Biden sensibility from a young age, allowing her to thrive on his campaign team for years.
“He knows my folks and just being connected that way,” Terrell said of Biden in late 2022. “You know where the person came from and I think that helps.”
“It brings a warmth to the work and I feel very, very lucky about that.”
Reaction to Louisa Terrell’s exit
President Joe Biden wrote a tribute to Louisa Terrell after learning of her departure from the White House.
“As a US Senator for 36 years, I have developed a deep respect and reverence for the United States Congress and its vital institutional role in our democracy,” the statement reads. “When I was elected President, I knew that no one understood that better – or would be a better partner to my decades-long friends and former colleagues – than Louisa Terrell.”
“That’s because, for years – as a Senator, as Vice President, as President, and every moment in between – I have relied on Louisa for her wise counsel and her skill. I have relied upon her to reflect my values. And I have relied upon her to deliver for the American people. Every step of the way, that’s exactly what she has done.”
Steve Richetti, Biden’s aide, was among the senior administration officials who commended Terrell, saying:
“She was indispensable. She was at the center of everything that we did. On legislative wins, nominations, confirmations, legislative strategy. Every part of what we have done in two and a half years that involved Congress, she has been at the heart of.”
Richetti, who has known Terrell for decades, says she will leave “huge, huge shoes to fill,” but she has earned the chance to spend more time with her family.
Jeff Zients, the White House chief of staff, initially acquainted Louisa Terrell while both were employed in the Obama administration. During the post-election transition period, he portrayed Terrell as a key player in the president’s cabinet selection and confirmation. According to Zient, Terrell’s “superpower” is also her emotional intelligence.
“She is so good at identifying the human element in every interaction,” said Zients, describing the way she listens and emphasizes lawmakers’ perspective over negotiations and strategy sessions. “They say you should walk a mile in other people’s shoes. Louisa has done marathons in dozens if not hundreds of people’s shoes.”