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Jul 25 2014

Any Questions?

DES MOINES – With Washington liberal Bruce Braley skipping an important Veterans’ Affairs hearing onSeptember 20, 2012, the Republican Party of Iowa is sharing the questions his colleagues asked that day regarding the growing number of backlogged claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“After skipping 78 percent of his Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearings, nobody knows better than Bruce Braley that it’s pretty hard to hold the VA accountable if you’re constantly skipping the hearings,” said Iowa Republican Party spokesman Jahan Wilcox.  “Braley’s decision to blow off an opportunity to ask the VA important oversight questions, explains everything you need to know about him.”

BACKGROUND …

Throughout The Hearing That Bruce Braley Missed On Septmber 20, 2012 His Colleagues Asked Questions About Resolving The Backlog, Access To Care And Quality Of Care

During The Hearing, Committee Members Expressed Concern That The Backlog Was Creating Improper Care For Veterans.  CONGRESSMAN MICHAUD: “A good example is back in June when we were discussing the claims backlog within VBA, the concern in the inspector general’s report was that VA employees were rushing through the process to get a claim done, therefore the accuracy rate has not been anywhere near where it should be. So taking that consideration with the employees feeling they have to rush through, my question to General Hickey at the time was, is there any benefit for an employee as far as how do you rate the employee as far as doing a good job or a bad job and how do you determine that.” (Reviewing VA’s Performance and Accountability, Veterans Affairs Committee, US House Of Representatives, 9/20/12)

Deputy Secretary Gould Highlighted The Importance Of The House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee On Oversight In Resolving Issues In The VA. CONGRESSMAN GOULD: “And, Mr. Michaud, first of all, as Congressman Brown said, you know, one team, one mission here. Our number one job is to take care of our veterans. One of the roles that this Oversight Committee plays is in bringing issues of poor performance to our attention and getting it done. I put your request in that category, informed by the notion that how you manage and rate your people and measure their performance is a critical part of improving our ability to process claims.” (Reviewing VA’s Performance and Accountability, Veterans Affairs Committee, US House Of Representatives, 9/20/12)

During The Hearing, Gould Was Unable To Answer A Question Asking How Veterns In The Backlog Would Know When They Can Expect To Receive Care.  CONGRESSMAN ROE: “No, I have not. I just want to know if I am a veteran and I have got a claim out there in claims land, wherever it may be, and I do not know where it is and when it is ever going to–and I have not heard from anybody in six months, when can I type in my information and find out why it is taking so long because we were told that was going to occur?” GOULD: “And correctly. It is in the eBenefits functional suite. Today there are 46 different things that you can do on the eBenefits Web site. And today I am happy to announce 1.9 million people have visited that site. So it is a web-based tool to be able to get information from VA including the status of claims.” ROE: “The question I am asking is, that is all good and fine and dandy, but the question I am asking is, am I going to hear something in 30 days because I have got a house payment to make or am I going to hear something in six months? When am I going to get some resolution for me?” GOULD: “Well, I will answer that on a couple of levels. I mentioned earlier that we have processed now at the end of this year almost four million claims. So there are four million people that have that answer. If your answer is prospectively when can I use the web to get that information in the future, that is part of our roll- out.” ROE: “That is the question I am asking. My questions have not been answered yet. My question is, when a veteran in my district or any of these districts that we represent goes on-line with this backlog, where am I in this process? Am I going to hear something in two months or three months or when am I going to hear something?” GOULD: “So a couple ways you can get that information. Call your VSO and they will enter the system or call a service provider. Mr. Roe. But what we were told was the veteran would be able to electronically go to their iPad or their computer and– –“ GOULD: “Yes.”  ROE: “–be able to find out the status of their claim.” GOULD: “Yes.” ROE: “I mean, I know it is a tough situation. But is there in the foreseeable future, is that going to happen?” GOULD: “Yes. As I mentioned a moment ago, it is part of our transformation plan, the technology component, and the very  system is already deployed called eBenefits. That will be the place that your member can go to find the status of their claim.” (Reviewing VA’s Performance and Accountability, Veterans Affairs Committee, US House Of Representatives, 9/20/12)


Jul 24 2014

Opening Remarks From VA Hearing That Bruce Braley Missed Centered On Long Wait Times

DES MOINES – With Bruce Braley claiming that he missed the Veterans’ Affairs performance and accountability hearing for another hearing where he was never seen sitting in his chair or uttering a single word, today the Republican Party of Iowa is telling him what he missed from this VA hearing.

House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller began the hearing by expressing his concern for delays experienced by veterans seeking mental health care.  Miller proceeded to state that two-thirds of our veterans have to wait over 125 days to receive care from the VA.

“If Bruce Braley made time for his VA hearings, like he’s able to do for his fancy D.C. fundraisers, he would’ve heard firsthand that two-thirds of our veterans have to wait over 4 months to receive care from the VA,” said Iowa Republican Party spokesman Jahan Wilcox.  “Braley’s priorities in Washington are quite simple: he’s more interested in himself than helping our veterans.”

BACKGROUND …

Braley Skipped His VA Hearing But Made Time For Three Fundraisers

Bruce Braley Skipped A VA Hearing He Attended Three Fundraisers.  “Over the past couple days, Republicans have sought to ramp up criticism over Braley’s hearing attendance, seizing on a Sept. 20, 2012, VA committee hearing he missed. It occurred the same day as three campaign fundraisers he attended.  “He made time to attend all three of the fundraisers. But he couldn’t make time to show up at the hearing,” Kochel said.”  (Ed Tibbets, GOP Hits Braley On VA Panel Attendance, The Quad City Times, 07/23/14)

Braley Claimed He Skipped His VA Hearing For The Hearing Below

Bruce Braley’s Campaign Said They Skipped The Veterans’ Affairs Committee Hearing Because He Was At The Oversight And Government Reform Hearing.”  Braley campaign spokesman Jeff Giertz said fundraisers Braley scheduled on Sept. 20 didn’t conflict with the VA hearings. The congressman missed the 10 a.m. Veterans Affairs Committee meeting because he was at an Oversight and Government Reform Committee meeting that began at 9:36 a.m., Giertz said.”  (Braley Attended Three Fundraisers on Day of Missed Veterans Affairs Hearing, The Des Moines Register, 07/22/14)

So Here’s The Opening Remarks From VA Hearing That Braley Missed

In His Opening Remarks, Chairman Miller Raised Concern For Delays Experienced By Veterans Seeking Mental Health Care. “Despite these successes, progress isn’t being made fast enough, or at all, in other key areas.  On the important issue of mental health care, too many veterans either do not seek assistance or are unable to get VA care in a timely manner.  As a result, access to mental health care is in crisis. In April, the VA Inspector General released a report finding that more than half of the veterans who seek mental health care through VA wait fifty days – that’s five-zero days – on average – to receive an evaluation. These are men and women who have taken the brave and difficult step of seeking help – and they are waiting too long to receive it.” (Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman’s Opening Remarks, Veterans Affairs Committee, US House Of Representatives, 9/20/12)

In His Opening Remarks, Chairman Miller Set As A Focus Item For The Meeting The 66.4 Percent Of Veterans Waiting More Than 125 Days For Care. “Another area of continued concern is the backlog of disability claims.  Notwithstanding pledges by VA officials that we’re about to “turn the corner,” the backlog has steadily increased throughout the past two years.  At the beginning of this Congress, the number of pending claims was 764, 476, with 39.4% pending for more than 125 days.  As of this month, that total number of claims pending increased to 897,767, with 66.4% pending over 125 days.” (Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman’s Opening Remarks, Veterans Affairs Committee, US House Of Representatives, 9/20/12)

Chairman Miller Also Raised Concern Regarding The VA Spending And The Department’s Performance. “VA’s Senior Executive Service Bonus Program continues to average nearly $4 million in annual pay-outs with no apparent correlation between these bonuses and agency performance. The Committee is also addressing the lavish conference expenditures. I and Ranking Member Filner sent a letter to VA over a month ago asking for details as to how $100 million was spent in 2011 on conferences and to date, we have yet to receive a response.” (Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman’s Opening Remarks, Veterans Affairs Committee, US House Of Representatives, 9/20/12)


Jul 24 2014

Bruce Braley’s Decision To Skip 78 Percent Of His Veterans’ Affairs Committee Hearings

Quad City Times Reports That Braley Skipped 15 Of 20 Veterans’ Affairs Committee Hearings.  “Democratic Senate hopeful Bruce Braley is being criticized for missing most of the full Veterans Affairs Committee hearings held in 2011-12, when he was on the panel.  Braley, a Democratic congressman from Waterloo, missed 15 of 20 committee meetings, including two joint sessions with the Senate, and Republicans say this shows he puts little priority on veterans issues.”  (Ed Tibbets, GOP Hits Braley On VA Panel Attendance, The Quad City Times, 07/23/14)

Quad City Times Notes That On The Same Day Braley Skipped A VA Hearing He Attended Three Fundraisers.  “Over the past couple days, Republicans have sought to ramp up criticism over Braley’s hearing attendance, seizing on a Sept. 20, 2012, VA committee hearing he missed. It occurred the same day as three campaign fundraisers he attended.  “He made time to attend all three of the fundraisers. But he couldn’t make time to show up at the hearing,” Kochel said.”  (Ed Tibbets, GOP Hits Braley On VA Panel Attendance, The Quad City Times, 07/23/14)

Des Moines Register Reports That Braley’s Staff Doesn’t Know Why He Missed A VA Hearing On October 12, 2011.  “The Republican Party of Iowa on Monday issued a statement criticizing Braley for missing so many committee meetings, pointing out that one he skipped on Oct. 12, 2011 was described as a window into national problems at the VA because it exposed trouble at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Braley’s spokesman said he’s not sure why the congressman missed that hearing …”  (Jennifer Jacobs, Braley Under Fire For Missing VA Oversight Meetings, The Des Moines Register, 07/23/14)

Braley Couldn’t Credibly Explain Why He Missed A VA Hearing On September 20, 2012.  As The Des Moines Register Reports:  “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.  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.”  (Jennifer Jacobs, Braley Under Fire For Missing VA Oversight Meetings, The Des Moines Register, 07/23/14)

The Washington Examiner Reports That Braley Had The Second-Lowest Attendance Record For The Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  This also gives him the second-lowest attendance record for the committee, according to a Washington Examiner analysis of committee minutes.  Only Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., had a worse attendance record (at 16 percent). The average attendance rate for the committee was 60 percent, and just 15 of the 24 members had attendance rates above 50 percent.  (Ashe Schow, Bruce Braley Missed 79 Percent Of Full Veterans’ Affairs Committee Hearings As Scandal Heated Up, The Washington Examiner, 07/22/14)  

The Hill Reports That Braley’s Poor Attendance On The VA Committee Could Hurt Him On The Campaign Trail.  “Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) is under fire for missing a number of hearings of the committee that oversees the Veterans Administration. … The low attendance for a committee overseeing the VA, which has been embroiled in scandal, could hurt Braley on the campaign trail.”  (Cam Joseph, Braley Takes Heat For Missing VA Hearing, The Hill, 07/23/14)

The Washington Free Beacon Reports That Republicans Are Reminding Iowans That Braley Neglected Early Warning Signs Of Problems Within The VA.  “Republicans have charged Braley with neglecting early warnings about problems that reportedly plague VA centers across the country. Reports of VA staffers who falsely altered patient records to mask long wait times for veterans led to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki earlier this year.”  (Dan Wiser, Video Evidence Puts Braley Campaign’s Claims In Question, The Washington Free Beacon, 07/23/14)

The Weekly Standard Reports That On September 20, 2012 Braley Skipped His VA Hearing But Was Able To Attend 3 Fundraisers For His Re-Election.  “Rep. Bruce Braley, the Iowa Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, missed three quarters of committee hearings concerning oversight of the Veterans Affairs administration in 2011 and 2012, including one, the Des Moines Register reports, on the same day Braley attended three fundraisers.”  (Michael Warren, Where Was Bruce Braley?, The Weekly Standard, 07/23/14)

Dana Perino Tells Braley Not To Lie About Why He Was Missed His VA Hearings.  “In Iowa, Bruce Braley he’s a Congressman, he’s running for the Senate in Iowa.  One of the complaints, attacks from the other side, the Republicans, has been he’s on the House Veterans’ Affair Committee and missed 75% of those hearings, including one in 2012 that was an important one.  You might say that’s not important, who cares, right?  But he was actually — his campaign said he was at a Fast and Furious hearing.  Turns out, he wasn’t there either.  He was at fundraisers, which from a PR perspective just tell the truth it would be a lot easier than what you’re dealing with.”  (Dana Perino, The Five, Fox News, 07/23/14)


Jul 23 2014

Just Tell The Truth Bruce

 

FOX NEWS:  “In Iowa, Bruce Braley he’s a Congressman, he’s running for the Senate in Iowa.  One of the complaints, attacks from the other side, the Republicans, has been he’s on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and missed 75% of those hearings, including one in 2012 that was an important one.  You might say that’s not important, who cares, right?  But he was actually — his campaign said he was at a Fast and Furious hearing.  Turns out, he wasn’t there either.  He was at fundraisers, which from a PR perspective just tell the truth, it would be a lot easier than what you’re dealing with.”  (Dana Perino, The Five, Fox News, 07/23/14)

 


Jul 23 2014

Why Did Bruce Braley Skip His VA Hearing On September 20, 2012?

Bruce Braley claimed to miss the House Veterans’ Affairs hearing for a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing, but after reviewing the transcript and the footage, there were no signs of him being present.

  • Bruce Braley’s Campaign Said They Skipped The Veterans’ Affairs Committee Hearing Because He Was At The Oversight And Government Reform Hearing.  ”Braley campaign spokesman Jeff Giertz said fundraisers Braley scheduled on Sept. 20 didn’t conflict with the VA hearings. The congressman missed the 10 a.m. Veterans Affairs Committee meeting because he was at an Oversight and Government Reform Committee meeting that began at 9:36 a.m., Giertz said.”  (Braley Attended Three Fundraisers on Day of Missed Veterans Affairs Hearing,The Des Moines Register, 07/22/14)

For your knowledge, the House Veterans Affairs Committee started at 10:19 AM EDT and ended at 11:54 AM EDT.  If you scroll down to the the bottom of this email, below is every screen shot that shows his chair from the House Oversight and Government Reform hearing during that time period.  What you’ll see in every photo is Bruce Braley’s empty chair.

This leads to the following questions:

  • Did Bruce Braley actually attend this hearing?
  • What time did Bruce Braley arrive at the House Oversight hearing?  
  • Is there a reason that Bruce Braley decided not to speak at  this hearing?  http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-112hhrg76369/pdf/CHRG-112hhrg76369.pdf
  • How long did Bruce Braley attend this hearing?
  • Assuming that Bruce Braley was at this hearing, at what time did he depart?
  • Does Bruce Braley really attend his committee hearings in Washington or does he check some box to fool voters back in Iowa that he’s doing his job?