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Elizabeth King, Assistant Secretary, Legislative Affairs Elizabeth King, Assistant Secretary, Legislative Affairs

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Defense Department

Elizabeth King, Assistant Secretary, Legislative Affairs

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(Liz Lynch)

King acts a bit like an air-traffic controller, helping Chuck Hagel navigate the halls of Congress. For King, a Chicago native and former counsel and senior defense adviser to Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the halls of Congress are a familiar place. That does not make her top goal of having everyone in the Pentagon and the Capitol "happy about a defense issue at the same time" much easier, though. It's a daunting task. King uses an analogy from a film. "In the original Dr. Doolittle, there was this thing called a push-me-pull-me," she said. "On many issues, Congress sees their angle but not the DOD's. And in many ways, the DOD has its angle and often doesn't see the political angle of it. So, to try to get the legislative agenda of the DOD through the Hill and see it with the same eye … without everyone in the Pentagon grousing that it has been taken apart by politics, that would be a joy." Despite the difficulty of the task, King, 48, points to the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" as an example of getting that push-pull dynamic right. Working for Hagel, himself a former senator who knows the ins and outs of Hill life, makes her job easier. "It's much easier to explain to a secretary with congressional experience the politics of something," King said. "The military tends to say what they mean. In politics, there are behind-closed-door discussions and public discussions." King received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and law degree from Georgetown University. She was in the marching band in college.

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