And when Obama's most senior advisers meet every morning at 7:40 to set the day's agenda, Reed is there. These mornings, it's Reed who keeps Obama's team up to date on one of the administration's top priorities: gun control.
When the president tasked Biden with crafting a series of proposals to respond to a scourge of mass shootings, the role of chief architect fell to Reed, who cut his teeth on gun issues as Clinton's domestic policy adviser. The ensuing proposal includes broadly supported measures like universal background checks, but also a controversial ban on assault weapons.
It quickly became clear the ban would face near-insurmountable obstacles in Congress. That led many to question whether the White House proposed the ban to placate those demanding tough action, but was ready to drop it if necessary to strike a deal. A Senate panel plans to vote on the ban Tuesday, though it has virtually no chance of passing the full Senate. While Biden and Obama say the ban deserves a vote, both have avoided describing it as a must-have.
"Nobody needed to tell me. I saw Bruce's fingerprints all over it," said former Clinton adviser William Galston, who met Reed in the late 1980s working on Al Gore's first presidential campaign. "Bruce is not afraid of the politics of aspiration, but he has a healthy awareness of the distinction between the best and the attainable. He will not counsel people to fall on their sword."
So far, there have been few outcries from the left over the prospect that the White House will abandon the assault-weapons ban — perhaps because even many Democrats are on the fence and fear being cast as infringing on lawful gun ownership.