A Year After Ending Her Presidential Bid, Warren Wields Soft Power in Washington

Ms. Warren acknowledged that helping to seed federal agencies with progressives was part of her strategy of making her policies happen. She said she made her staffing recommendations to the White House privately and repeated her refrain that “personnel is policy.”

During the 2020 primary campaign, Ms. Warren and Mr. Biden appeared to be at opposite ends of the Democratic Party’s ideological spectrum. But their shared interest in uplifting the middle class and reducing income inequality has helped forge a strong working relationship.

Jeff Hauser, the director of the Revolving Door Project, suggested that Ms. Warren’s ties to former Senator Ted Kaufman, Mr. Biden’s longtime Senate chief of staff who led his transition team, had helped her steer many of her acolytes to important jobs. In 2008, when Ms. Warren was a Harvard Law School professor, she was appointed to join a congressional panel that was overseeing the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. When she left that job to stand up the consumer protection bureau, Mr. Kaufman replaced her and continued her rigorous oversight work.

Allies of Ms. Warren say she is playing the long game with policy proposals such as the wealth tax, nudging them from European fringe ideas to the political mainstream in hopes that Democrats will have the votes to pass such legislation sooner rather than later.

“She’s doing what she always does, which is going person by person in the Senate, person by person in the administration, explaining policy advantages, explaining the political advantages, making the case,” said Mike Lux, a Democratic political strategist and a friend of Ms. Warren.

In the meantime, Ms. Warren feels a sense of relief after four years of being on defense. On the day she voted to advance Mr. Chopra’s nomination to the lead the consumer bureau, she reflected on how different his tenure would be from that of Mick Mulvaney, whom Mr. Trump appointed to neuter the agency in 2017.

Mr. Chopra helped Ms. Warren establish the bureau and worked for five years as its assistant director and student loan ombudsman. Mr. Mulvaney tried to cut its funding and scrambled its acronym out of spite.

“Mick Mulvaney was doing everything he could to try to undercut the consumer agency, and he made no secret about that,” Ms. Warren said. “Now there’s someone who will be in charge of the C.F.P.B. who sees the need for a level playing field and a fair set of rules and who has the backbone to get in there and make it happen.”

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