As floor director for Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Reema Dodin is on the front lines for Democrats on issues that include federal budget appropriations, the debt ceiling and — as she put it — “always nominations.”

Dodin, 33, got an early start in politics. She volunteered on her first political campaign when she was 4 years old, stuffing envelopes with her father. Dodin was the first in her family born in the United States — her family emigrated from the West Bank — and said her parents paid close attention to U.S. politics.

She said she was hooked on Congress after visiting Washington for the first time at age 16. “I had the sense that to live is to be political,” she said.

Dodin started working on Capitol Hill after earning her law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law in 2006. Since then, she’s served on Durbin’s staff, most recently as his floor director. Her job includes helping him and the rest of the Democratic leadership manage votes and take stock of the caucus’ daily needs. “Everything in the Senate has to be done by some kind of dealmaking, even getting to cloture,” she said.

When votes come up, Dodin said, it’s her job to help make sure members understand what’s happening and what their options are, and party leaders have a sense of where the caucus stands.

“That also means decoding Senate procedure and thinking through how it can help or hurt whatever our end -goal may be on legislation or nominations,” she said.

Last summer, Dodin helped manage legislation to preserve tax cuts for middle -class families. She said the vote served as a foundation during negotiations later in the year as the cuts were about to expire. A deal was eventually reached preserving certain tax cuts for middle -class families and allowing cuts for wealthier families to expire.

“This was one of the most intense whip counts I have worked on, but also one of the best,” she said. “[I]t played out quickly on the Senate floor, and I think the victory surprised many.”

Looking ahead, Dodin said she’s also interested in working on campaign finance reform and advocating for greater diversity in the Senate. “The more voices in these capitals, the better,” she said. — Zoe Tillman