Iowa Democrat Braley Was MIA on Veterans Affairs Committee at Critical Juncture

As American veterans were languishing on wait lists unable to get critical health care they deserved and needed, Iowa Democrat and Senate candidate  Rep. Bruce Braley appears to have spent two years mostly ducking his responsibilities on the Veterans Affairs Committee during the last Congress.

The Des Moines Register is not amused and now The Hill is picking up on the story, as well.

Over a two-year period, Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley missed 75 percent of meetings for a committee that provides oversight over the Veterans Administration, including one meeting on a day he attended three fundraisers for his 2012 campaign. 

Braley’s inattentiveness came during a critical period during which adequate oversight was clearly lacking. 

A few months later, news reports exposed systemic problems in patient care that have since resulted in the resignation head of the federal department of veterans affairs.
Republicans argue that Braley, who missed 15 of the 20 Veterans’ Affairs Committee meetings in 2011 and 2012, has shown a lack of commitment to conditions within the health care system for veterans.

Furthermore, a detailed look at Braley’s excuses look even more damning. At best, Braley appears to have been “present” elsewhere in name only. 

At 10:19 a.m. on Sept. 20, 2012, the committee held a hearing on a backlog of disability claims and reports of problems with mental health care and stewardship of VA funding, congressional records show. The roll call shows Braley didn’t attend.

Braley’s aides said he skipped it to attend a 9:36 a.m. Oversight and Government Reform Committee meeting on the “Fast and Furious” gun trafficking scandal. The congressional record marked Braley “present,” but reveals that he offered no testimony during the three-hour hearing, which ran until 12:45 p.m.

And it just gets worse.

Video caught no sight of Braley. His seat isn’t always visible, but the multiple times it’s within camera view during the window the Veterans Affairs committee was in session (10:19 a.m. to 11:54 a.m.), Braley wasn’t seated, a Register review of C-SPAN 3 and committee footage found.

Members of Congress can check in as “present” at a hearing, stay for a brief time – sometimes to ask a question – and then leave. Braley didn’t ask a question, the transcript shows.