Defense bill markup sparks love between two beauties

 Imagine the most romantic, glamorous, fairy-tale courtship. A white horse. A gazebo. A stroll in the moonlight. Now imagine its opposite. That’s how Rebeccah Ramey and Hanz Heinrichs, alumni of The Hill’s annual 50 Most Beautiful People list, fell in love.

Their relationship began over the markup of a defense bill and continued while taking 10-mile training runs in preparation for the Marine Corps marathon. Not exactly rose petals and candlelight.

But it worked for them. The two plan to marry this Sunday, making them the latest power couple from the 50 Most Beautiful People list. Heinrichs, 26, an aide to Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and the 2005 list’s No. 5 entry, remembers seeing Ramey for the first time at a meeting for Republican legislative assistants who work on military issues.

“She walked in a few minutes late, and I, uh, noticed her,” he says. But he would have to wait for an opportunity to meet her.

“There wasn’t any entrée to talk to her until the defense markup,” he says.

After that first sighting, Ramey, a 25-year-old staffer for Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and the 2007 list’s No. 9 beauty, took matters into her own hands. She recognized Heinrichs during that same meeting from his 50 Most Beautiful appearance but couldn’t find a way to talk to him, either. So she e-mailed Heinrichs to see if they could step out of an upcoming House Armed Services Committee hearing they were both planning to attend to discuss an issue that interested their bosses.  

Visually, they suit each other well. Blond, tall and fit, they could easily model for a fashion magazine. But really, they’re policy wonks.

To further explain their courtship, Heinrichs starts in on serious policy minutiae.

“Our bosses have a shared interest in the Airborne Laser,” he says, but before he can go further, Ramey bursts in.

“Don’t! Don’t do that story,” she says. “That’s embarrassing. It is.”

Taking it from the top, Ramey says, “Our bosses have a shared interested in a defense project, which is how we started working together.

“So we were sitting in the hearing, and I looked over, and I saw Hanz,” she says. “We went out in the hallway, and that was the first time we had a discussion, and it was about work. It was the defense bill.”

Asked whether there were ulterior motives in that initial meeting, Ramey giggles through an explanation.

“I mean, like, I thought he was … I mean, I was interested in talking to him,” she says.

Heinrichs gives that first hallway encounter the perfect spin. He says it was purely “coalition building.”

Their first date came two months later. Heinrichs invited Ramey to the gym. “Well, we planned to go [on a] Sunday, and it was right around 6 o’clock,” he says. “It turned out the gym was closed, and we ended up going for a 10-mile run.”

Ramey admits the couple’s first date was “very atypical” but says that was one of the reasons she was so quickly attracted to Heinrichs.

Compared to other dates, she says, “This one was just very relaxed. We were both doing exactly what we always do, anyway.”

Their shared interest in running was an early example of their compatibility in other areas.

They are both passionate about the military — so much so that Heinrichs has decided to join the Navy, a decision Ramey fully supports.

“He immediately became my best friend,” Ramey says, adding that “he is more laid-back and carefree than I am, which I find incredibly calming and, at times, challenging.”

Heinrichs says their first date was unusual for him, too.

“I fell for her the first time she smiled just for me,” he says in an e-mail. “Our jogging date happened because we both were going to jog and didn’t want to do anything apart.”

Ramey appeared on the 2007 list shortly after the two started dating, but since the relationship was new, she felt awkward about answering her dating status. It appears as “not single” in the issue.

The pair continued dating and working together on defense issues. They say they are totally professional when talking policy during work hours.

“I have my business face,” Ramey says, though her soft smile and the few giggles she lets slip leave some doubt about how serious that business face can be when it comes to working with her fiancé.

Heinrichs says the two have bonded over professional interests they share.

“I would say one of the strengths of our relationships is that after work it’s easy to talk to her about what you were working on,” he says. “I understand everything she’s doing and she understands what I’m doing.”

Heinrichs proposed to Ramey in December while taking a post-dinner stroll on the Key Bridge.

When their fellow GOP military legislative assistants discovered the romance, Ramey recalls that a colleague remarked to her, “I think this is the first time in the history of the Armed Services Committee that two [military legislative assistants] actually dated and are now getting married.”

The two smile and take pride in the distinctions.

“Setting precedents left and right,” Ramey says.