July 23, 2018
The personal relationships forged in Congress between Members of different parties have drastically changed in recent years, creating a climate on Capitol Hill where colleagues barely know each other. This has led to deepening divisions on national security, among many other issues facing our country.
By contrast, former senators Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Ted Stevens (R-AK) were able to become best friends while serving together in the Senate in spite of having conflicting political ideologies. From their close friendship, the Senators were able to pass bipartisan legislation while both serving as Chairman and ranking member on the Defense-appropriations Subcommittee. They were determined to defend the interests of Pacific-based states and locked arms on many occasions to defend the rights of their constituents.
The Daniel K. Inouye Institute, Ted Stevens Foundation, and The John Brademas Center at New York University co-hosted this event as part of the 2018 Young Leaders Network series. Is Bipartisan Defense Policy a Thing of the Past? was a dialogue with Charlie Houy, former Staff Director to Senator Daniel Inouye, and Steve Cortese, former Staff Director to Senator Ted Stevens. This timely discussion focused on how the personal relationship between Senator Inouye and Senator Stevens allowed them to find common ground and work together on promoting defense policy. The discussion was moderated by CNN Politics Digital Reporter, Meagan Vazquez.
This free event was open to all Congressional interns.
Steve Cortese is the Executive Vice President for Washington Operations at Leonardo DRS. The Washington Operations function is responsible for U.S. Government relations, legislative affairs, international business strategy and corporate planning for DRS. As part of Leonardo DRS, Steve and the Washington Operations team support shared services agreements with the Leonardo companies in North America.
Prior to joining DRS, Steve served as Senior Vice President for Government Relations and Corporate Communications at ATK, an aerospace, defense and commercial products company. He was responsible for all company activities in Washington, D.C., including Congressional and Pentagon relations, leading the company’s pursuit of Department of Defense and NASA business and helping shape its international business strategy. Steve also led ATK Corporate Communications and was the primary interface with supply chain partners and major prime contractors in Washington. From 2003 to 2006, Steve was Vice President, Programs and Budgets, in the Washington Operations office of Lockheed Martin.
Before entering the private sector, Steve had an extensive career on Capitol Hill. From 1986 to 2003, he worked as a professional staff member of the Defense Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is responsible for oversight and funding of the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community. During his tenure, Steve served as Staff Director for the Defense Subcommittee and the full Appropriations Committee, working closely with the House and Senate leadership and the Executive Branch.
Steve is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Foreign Service.
Steve resides in Annapolis, MD with his wife Eileen and they have two children.
Charles J. Houy is a former staff director of the Senate Committee on Appropriations serving on the Committee for 30 years beginning as a professional staff member on the Defense Subcommittee in 1983.
During his twelve years as professional staff Charlie was the principal analyst for a wide ranging list of appropriation accounts covering each of the Military Departments. In 1995, Mr. Houy was promoted to serve as the Democratic clerk on the Defense subcommittee and served in that position until 2011. In 2009, Mr. Houy was also selected to serve as the Majority Staff Director for the Appropriations Committee. He retired from that position in April 2013.
Prior to serving on the Appropriations Committee Mr. Houy was a Presidential Management Intern assigned to the Comptroller office of the Naval Sea Systems Command with temporary duty in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Comptroller and the Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense.
He has a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of California, Davis, a Master of Arts in Diplomacy and World Affairs from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and a Master of Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.
Among his awards are the Meritorious Public Service award from the Secretary of the Navy, the Distinguished Public Service award from the Secretary of the Navy, and the Outstanding Public Service Medal from the Secretary of Defense.
Charlie is retired and spends his time writing, walking, reading, and cooking at his home in Pacific Grove, California. He is the author of Vigilante Politics (2017), a fictional political thriller, and multiple nonfiction pieces including an essay for the Daniel K. Inouye Institute, The Stevens Inouye Friendship (2016).
Maegan Vazquez is a digital reporter for CNN Politics, where she covers breaking news from Washington.
Prior to CNN, Vazquez worked for Independent Journal Review, where she worked as a political reporter, an editor, and most recently, a White House reporter.
At IJR, Vazquez conducted West Wing interviews with senior Trump administration officials, uncovered President Barack Obama's post-presidency home renovation plans, and profiled Las Vegas legend Wayne Newton.
Vazquez grew up in Laredo, Texas, and graduated from New York University, where she majored in journalism and social & cultural analysis.
The Daniel K. Inouye Institute was established in 2013 to preserve Senator Inouye's papers and tell his life story; support STEM education, civics learning and international educational-cultural exchanges; and establish a repository of the Asian American/Pacific experience.
Established in 2001, the mission of the Ted Stevens Foundation is to recognize Senator Ted Stevens’ career and honor his legacy of public service by working to ensure a stable and vibrant Alaska for future generations.