Reed is known for his low-key, pragmatic style. When Biden was tapped to helm the administration's push for gun control earlier this year, he could rely on Reed's experience as a domestic policy adviser to President Clinton, who signed the assault-weapons ban in 1994. Reed, 53, grew up in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, attended Princeton University, and went to Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar. He served as chief speechwriter for then-Sen. Al Gore of Tennessee and went on to lead the Democratic Leadership Council, a think tank that pushed the party toward the mainstream. He served both terms in the Clinton White House and helped write the 1996 welfare-reform law. "The American people saw the old welfare system as a sign that the government just didn't get it," Reed told McClatchy Newspapers in 2010. "It was doing more harm than good, and it was hurting the people it was meant to help. I don't think there's been a more difficult issue to bridge the partisan gulf than that over the last three decades. So I'm used to getting yelled at for trying to do the right thing." More recently, Reed served as executive director of what became known as the Bowles-Simpson commission on deficit reduction. He has written columns for Slate, and he coauthored a political manifesto called The Plan: Big Ideas for Change in America with Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff.