Rep. Bruce Braley, the Democratic candidate for the Senate in Iowa, landed in hot water when video emerged of a fundraiser with trial lawyers at which he ridiculed Sen. Chuck Grassley for being an Iowa farmer. Now we learn, via the Des Moines Register, that Braley missed 75 percent (15 of 20) of meetings of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, which provides oversight for the immensely troubled Veterans Administration.
One of the committee meetings Braley missed occurred just a few months before news reports found systemic and shocking problems in patient care. The subject of that particular hearing was the backlog of disability claims and reports of problems with mental health care and stewardship of VA funding — an important subject, one might have thought.
The day of that hearing, Braley attended three fundraisers.
Braley’s staff claims that he missed the VA oversight hearing on the day of the three fundraisers because he went to a congressional hearing on Fast and Furious. However, according to the Des Moines Register’s report, Braley said nothing during that hearing. And the multiple times his seat was within camera view during the hour and a half that the Veterans Affairs committee was in session, Braley wasn’t seated at the Fast and Furious hearing.
Braley did check himself in as “present” for the Fast and Furious hearing, but apparently did not participate in it — and certainly not in a way that would have prevented him from attending at least part of the Veterans Affairs hearing.
Evidently, Braley had places to go and people to meet that day, and those places and people did not pertain to the care and treatment of our wounded warriors. Indeed, given his pattern of skipping VA oversight hearings, it’s fair to conclude that the mental health and medical treatment of military veterans isn’t a priority item for this politician.
By the way, Braley’s opponent, Joni Ernst, is an Iraq war veteran. Ernst just took two weeks off from campaigning to perform her annual service in the Iowa National Guard whose largest battalion she currently commands.