Chief Counsel for the Senate Budget Committee
Vignette, a service through National Journal Research, is an essential tool for government affairs teams that need to understand the people behind the policies.
A veteran legislative staffer, Bill Dauster brings more than four decades of experience to his post as chief counsel to the Senate Budget Committee. He’s tackled the federal deficit, helped pass the Affordable Care Act, and established social connections across the political aisle.
And on the side, he’s spent more than a decade writing Wikipedia entries for each of the 54 weekly Torah portions.
Dauster cut his teeth as chief counsel on the Senate Budget Committee during the Reagan, Bush 41, and Clinton administrations, eventually becoming Democratic chief of staff of the committee. Throughout his tenure, Dauster was lauded for his acute understanding of budgetary issues and Senate procedure, making him the go-to person on Capitol Hill for procedural questions—by senators and younger Hill staffers alike.
Dauster took a hiatus from government after the inauguration of President Trump in 2017 and entered academia, teaching courses at American University Washington College of Law and lecturing at the University of Pennsylvania on the balance of power and congressional processes. With a new administration in town, Dauster returns to government, appointed as chief counsel by new Budget Committee chair Bernie Sanders. He’s already been a key player in the first months of the Congress, navigating the budget-reconciliation process to pass the COVID-19 relief package.
Approach and Motivations
Excerpted from Bill‘s Vignette profile
Highly respected staffer motivated by his religious beliefs and a desire to hold leaders accountable; favors a consensus-building approach but will exercise all legal tools to advance Democratic legislation
- Strongly guided by his Jewish faith, which informs his approach to finding equitable budgetary solutions that help low- and middle-income Americans; writes Wikipedia articles on the 54 weekly Torah portions and helped create a weekly Jewish study group in Congress; says studying the Torah allows him to understand the law in a different way
- Formerly a more moderate Democrat who preferred to garner bipartisan support for legislation, Dauster shifted to the left after the Bush tax cuts were passed through the reconciliation process in the early 2000s; the legislative defeat encouraged him to employ lesser-known Senate rules to pass legislation
- Frequently described by colleagues as a model staffer and government lawyer, Dauster prioritizes relationship-building, often establishing social connections across the aisle to further the Democratic legislative agenda
Not a Vignette subscriber? You can purchase a digital book with in-depth profiles on everyone featured in this special report.
To learn more about Vignette, or see the platform in action, request a demo here.