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DEFENSE DRUMBEAT: HOW TO GET THROUGH MARATHON MARKUPS? RED BULL AND COFFEE

Jun 6, 2017
Defense Drumbeat


Washington Examiner - Travis Tritten

Name: Zach Steacy
Hometown: Philadelphia
Position: Director of legislative operations for the House Armed Services Committee
Age: 34
Alma mater: Connecticut College

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Washington Examiner: You've been here for a decade. Has D.C. changed you?

Steacy: If anything, I think maybe it's changed me for the better. I've grown a lot. Professionally, I've learned so much during that period.

Washington Examiner: How did you get into legislative work and politics?

Steacy: It's something I've always been interested in. Since I was a little kid and I knew I always wanted to come to Washington. I did an internship over on the Senate side when I was in high school for a month.

Washington Examiner: Any vivid memories of the Hill during that time?

Steacy: I was an intern in Sen. [ted] Kennedy's judiciary committee office. Attorney Gen. [john] Ashcroft's nomination — it was January 2001 — was one of the larger press stories at the time. I remember as the intern dragging a bunch of boxes full of files into the hearing room and a bunch of reporters were out front. The cameras all came on. I was thinking, "Oh, don't drop this."

Washington Examiner: What's the best part of working on the Hill?

Steacy: The people on the Armed Services Committee — it may sound cliche — but they're family. It's just some of the best people you can find and some of the hardest-working passionate people. The devotion to the mission, getting that bill done. Everyone here is committed.

Washington Examiner: What does a director of legislative operations do?

Steacy: It is managing all the legislative procedure within the committee itself, guiding our bills through markups then on to the floor and coordinating with all the players involved.

Washington Examiner: How do you get your arms around a massive bill like the committee's National Defense Authorization Act?

Steacy: It was, I think, over 1,400 pages last year. There were 338 amendments filed for markup, which gives you a sense just how large the bill itself is. It takes a long time to put together with contributions from all the interested parties. Our staff does due diligence, and my job is to shepherd that through as best I can.

Washington Examiner: The NDAA is known for its marathon markup sessions. How long did it go last year?

Steacy: It was past 2 a.m. and might have gone to 3 a.m. Start at 10 a.m. and we go all the way through.

Washington Examiner: How do you prep for a markup like that?

Steacy: A lot of Red Bull and a lot of coffee.

Washington Examiner: So, you're a big Phillies fan. Do you get much grief?

Steacy: Yes, especially in the past couple years as the Phillies have failed to make the playoffs and continue to be in last place in the NL East, which is a stark contrast to when I started here. They owned the Nationals in many of those years.

Washington Examiner: Besides baseball, what's the best way to unwind after a marathon markup session?

Steacy: Sleep, more than anything. But I have a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. The best part of my day is coming home and hearing them say my name and asking how my workday was.

115th Congress

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