DEFENSE DRUMBEAT: HOW TO GET THROUGH MARATHON MARKUPS? RED BULL AND COFFEE
Washington Examiner - Travis Tritten
Name: Zach Steacy
Position: Director of legislative operations for the House Armed Services Committee
Alma mater: Connecticut College
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.