Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, was hurrying to a vote via the Capitol’s cavernous underground tunnel system on a current Thursday when his telephone rang. It was Pete Buttigieg, the secretary of transportation, calling for a fast briefing earlier than an infrastructure assembly he had scheduled with a bunch of Republican senators.
Mr. Coons dismissed the reporters trailing him, propped his pc pill in opposition to a railing subsequent to the Senate subway monitor, and commenced typing away, taking notes, as he lowered his voice to share the thin on the Republicans.
“These are Republican senators he doesn’t know,” Mr. Coons mentioned of Mr. Buttigieg after the 2 hung up. “So it’s simply form of tactical recommendation about particular members. What are their pursuits? What’s the background? Do you suppose there’s room for progress?”
Earlier than the tip of the day, Mr. Coons’s telephone would ring a number of extra occasions, with numerous White Home officers on the opposite finish — looking for counsel, scuttlebutt and perception that President Biden wanted to navigate his agenda via the Senate.
To path Mr. Coons on Capitol Hill is to witness how he operates as an additional pair of eyes and ears for the Biden administration in Congress, a form of consigliere trusted by each the president and the senators — lots of them Republicans — whom Mr. Biden must succeed.
It’s a far much less prestigious job than the one which Mr. Coons — who interned for Mr. Biden three a long time in the past, grew to become his mentee on the New Fort County Council, campaigned for him in Iowa and now holds the seat that when belonged to him — initially sought within the Biden administration, the place he had hoped to function secretary of state. However it could demand the identical form of shuttle diplomacy and high-stakes negotiation.