WASHINGTON — The second Chuck Schumer achieved his longtime dream of turning into Senate majority chief, he was in a safe room hiding from a violent pro-Trump mob that was rampaging by means of the Capitol.
As rioters prowled the halls attempting to find high lawmakers — Mr. Schumer, Democrat of New York, later heard that one had been on the lookout for his desk, saying, “The place’s the massive Jew?” — he was being evacuated with different leaders to a protected room at an undisclosed location.
It was then that information retailers confirmed that Jon Ossoff, a Democrat, had received the ultimate Georgia Senate race that will give the celebration the bulk, handing Mr. Schumer the top job. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, turned to the person who had engineered his defeat and supplied a quick concession and congratulations.
With that, Charles Ellis Schumer, 70, the Brooklyn-raised son of an exterminator and a homemaker, turned the first New Yorker ever to lead the United States Senate.
“Jan. 6 was the very best of occasions,” Mr. Schumer mentioned in a latest interview in his workplace, the place he cracked open a Eating regimen Coke. “And it was the worst of occasions.”
His dream job has include enormous challenges and a virtually nonexistent margin for error. Mr. Schumer rose to energy on the power of his expertise as a celebration messenger and relentless marketing campaign strategist, not his expertise as a legislative tactician.
Now it falls to him to maneuver President Biden’s bold agenda by means of a polarized, 50-50 Senate with out one vote to spare, navigating between the progressive and reasonable factions in his celebration within the face of a Republican opposition that’s extra decided than ever.
Mr. Schumer handed his first check over the weekend, squeezing Mr. Biden’s sweeping $1.9 trillion stimulus measure by means of the Senate alongside celebration traces — an effort that almost fell aside as Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia and a vital reasonable, balked on the eleventh hour. Mr. Schumer negotiated a concession, and the invoice handed, paving the best way for emergency aid and the most far-reaching antipoverty effort in a era.
“I’ve by no means seen anybody work as skillfully, as ably, as patiently, with dedication to ship such a consequential piece of laws,” Mr. Biden mentioned of Mr. Schumer.
The trouble pressured the Senate chief to straddle his celebration’s centrist and progressive wings, a trick he must grasp if he hopes to maintain the president’s agenda on observe and Democrats in command of the chamber, in addition to heading off a attainable 2024 major problem from Consultant Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the high-profile progressive from the Bronx.
Requested what he would do about her, Mr. Schumer shrugged and mentioned he talked to Ms. Ocasio-Cortez “on a regular basis.”
“What I’ve achieved all through my profession,” he added. “I do my job effectively, and all the pieces works out.”
‘I Love My Members!’
If Mr. Schumer’s victory was overshadowed by the violence of Jan. 6 and the chaos that adopted, it has not slowed his tempo or scaled again his plans.
After the stimulus measure, the subsequent gadgets on his agenda are all bold and troublesome, starting with a sweeping infrastructure and jobs proposal aimed toward addressing local weather change, financial inequality and racial justice.
The payments could be enormous victories for Democrats, displaying that they’ll ship the progressive insurance policies they’ve promised. However Mr. Schumer faces formidable hurdles in preserving collectively his ideologically numerous caucus, which incorporates conservative Democrats and a self-described democratic socialist. He additionally must outmaneuver Mr. McConnell, who likes to name himself the “grim reaper” due to an extended historical past of utilizing his mastery of Senate technique to impede Democratic initiatives.
Mr. Schumer, who’s extra of a cheerful warrior, has historically been much less centered on the intricacies of the Senate ground. However at a second when unity is crucial to his celebration’s success, he has attributes that Democrats may have extra: sturdy relationships along with his colleagues and a knack for studying their political moods, together with a aptitude for communication.
“I do know each one among my colleagues’ numbers by coronary heart,” he mentioned within the interview, waving his signature flip telephone within the air. “I like my members. I really love them!”
(Requested at a information convention on Saturday whether or not that included Mr. Manchin, who single-handedly delayed the stimulus measure for about 10 hours by haggling over jobless help, Mr. Schumer grinned and mentioned enthusiastically, “Sure!”)
The primary Jewish individual to carry the highest Senate job, Mr. Schumer peppers his speech with Yiddish expressions. He could be sentimental — President Donald J. Trump mocked him as “Cryin’ Chuck” after he wept throughout a information convention objecting to the journey ban — and a little bit of a ham.
His effusive persona has helped him develop private bonds with lawmakers of each ideological stripe. Mr. Schumer has 11 Democrats on his management staff that meets every Monday, together with the Senate’s most conservative, Mr. Manchin, and its two most left-learning members, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders, the Vermont impartial.
Most of them discuss with him as a good friend.
“Anyone and everyone can work with Chuck,” mentioned Mr. Manchin, who due to the tight Senate margin is a vital swing vote on all the pieces that crosses Mr. Schumer’s desk.
Mr. McConnell’s willingness to make use of hardball ways would possibly give him the “negotiating benefit in lots of circumstances,” mentioned Ms. Warren, whom Mr. Schumer wooed to run for the Senate in 2012 over a meal at Hunan Dynasty, his favourite Chinese language restaurant a couple of blocks from the Capitol.
“However when the Democrats stand collectively behind Chuck,” Ms. Warren mentioned, “Chuck has proven that he can ship.”
Much less clear is how efficient he could be at courting the reasonable Republicans he’ll most probably must push by means of key priorities within the Senate, the place 60 votes are required to advance most main payments. His relationship with Senator Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who often is the single most essential swing vote, grew significantly poisonous after Mr. Schumer attacked her throughout her newest re-election race.
Mr. Schumer’s political motion committee ran adverts accusing Ms. Collins’s husband of enriching himself by means of the opioid disaster and charging that she had “pocketed” cash from drug firms.
“His ways had been unworthy of a Senate race,” Ms. Collins mentioned, calling the adverts “misleading” and “shameful.”
She mentioned Mr. Schumer’s solely objective was to “jam the Republicans and pressure partisan, extremely political votes on almost each main challenge.”
“Up to now,” she mentioned of the bulk chief, “the indicators will not be promising.”
A Political Evolution
His critics have lengthy portrayed him as too cozy with Wall Road, and a review of his Senate record by The New York Times in 2008 confirmed that he repeatedly took steps to guard trade gamers from authorities oversight and more durable guidelines.
However as his celebration has moved to the left, Mr. Schumer has aligned himself extra carefully with its progressive wing. Along with backing a clean-energy jobs initiative that’s a part of the infrastructure plan, he has been among the many main voices calling on Mr. Biden to cancel as much as $50,000 in scholar debt.
“The world modifications, and it’s important to change with it,” Mr. Schumer mentioned. “Revenue inequality is far worse. Local weather change is rather more harmful.”
His capacity to work each wings of his celebration was on show on Friday, when Mr. Schumer spent hours in painstaking negotiations with Mr. Manchin, who wished to reduce unemployment funds, a core liberal precedence within the stimulus invoice. As motion stalled, Republicans gleefully laid the chaos on the new majority chief’s ft.
“Chuck Schumer has formally misplaced management,” Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, mentioned in a one-line assertion.
However ultimately — after a marathon collection of calls with Ron Klain, the White Home chief of employees, Mr. Manchin and others — Mr. Schumer had a deal, and he held Democrats collectively in beating again Republican makes an attempt to erode assist for the invoice with politically difficult votes.
“Not a single member defected on any vital vote,” Mr. Schumer mentioned.
Destined for Politics
Those that know Mr. Schumer say he has been getting ready for his present job for almost his total life.
His first foray into politics got here in 1968, throughout a low second in his freshman yr at Harvard, after the basketball coach dashed his hopes of enjoying for the staff.
A distraught Mr. Schumer wrote to his mom, saying he wished to return dwelling and go to Brooklyn School. However then he was invited to hitch the Harvard Younger Democrats, whose backing for Eugene McCarthy was a part of an antiwar motion that swept the nation and finally prompted President Lyndon B. Johnson to not search one other time period.
“There’s a Yiddish phrase — beshert — God’s hand,” Mr. Schumer mentioned. “I mentioned to myself, ‘Holy moly! A ragtag group of scholars and different assorted nobodies toppled probably the most highly effective man on this planet? That is what I wish to dedicate my life to.’”
So at 23, he ran for a seat within the New York State Legislature, making him the second-youngest individual after Theodore Roosevelt to take action. He received, and has by no means misplaced a race within the almost half-century since, rising to the Home of Representatives in 1981 and finally to the Senate in 1999.
A Relentless Recruiter
One activity that Mr. Schumer particularly loves, and to which he owes his present publish, is his relentless work recruiting profitable Democratic candidates. It’s a main motive that, in a yr when his celebration misplaced 13 seats within the Home, it was capable of recapture the Senate, albeit by the thinnest of margins.
Ms. Warren recalled Mr. Schumer “hammering” her in 2011 till she agreed to run. He has had dozens of comparable conferences through the years.
As John Hickenlooper, the previous Colorado governor, pursued the Democratic presidential nomination final yr, Mr. Schumer was pestering him from the sidelines to contemplate a Senate run. He waited till a couple of days after Mr. Hickenlooper had left the presidential race, summoned the Coloradan and his spouse for a gathering that lasted 5 hours and made his case. Mr. Hickenlooper ran and won, picking up a crucial Senate seat for Democrats.
Mr. Schumer has had his share of disappointments, too. He wished badly for Stacey Abrams, the previous Georgia Home minority chief, to problem the Republican Kelly Loeffler for her Senate seat, however Ms. Abrams had her sights set on one other workplace and as an alternative urged him to decide on the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a progressive Black pastor.
It took about 4 months of cajoling by Mr. Schumer, however Mr. Warnock finally agreed. His victory in a runoff in January was one of many last two pickups that handed Senate management to the Democrats.
Ms. Abrams recalled steeling herself as she referred to as Mr. Schumer to let him know she wouldn’t run.
“Having labored with folks with huge personalities, there was a spread of responses it may have been, and his was instinctive kindness,” she mentioned. “Which is why, once I get a name from Chuck Schumer, I take it.”
Emily Cochrane and Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.