POLITICS

Democrats Hit GOP Intelligence Committee Chair For Skipping Military Hearings

North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr attended just 30 percent of Armed Services hearings while serving on the committee.

WASHINGTON ― North Carolina Democrats are hitting Sen. Richard Burr (R) in a new video for missing nearly 70 percent of his hearings while serving on the Armed Services Committee, and for failing to have anything to say even when he did show up.

North Carolina is a military-heavy state, with one of the largest military populations in the country and an economy that depends on military activity. So when Burr first joined Armed Services in 2009, he called it an “honor” and made the logical observation that he looked “forward to using my newest committee assignment to benefit military families in North Carolina and across the country.”

The committee that oversees the military was apparently not to his taste, however. He left after 2010, and during his two-year stint, he skipped 58 out of 84 hearings, for an absentee rate of 69 percent.

Among the sessions he took off were hearings on emerging threats, at least two on military suicide, as well as briefings on Iran and nuclear issues. Burr missed numerous hearings on Russia and Afghanistan.

“The news that Sen. Burr missed nearly 70 percent of Armed Services Committee hearings is worse when you start to realize the topics covered,” Matt Kravitz, a spokesman for the North Carolina Democratic Party, said in a statement. “Despite the fact that North Carolina is home to more than 100,000 active duty military personnel and that we’re the third largest military population in the country, he missed key discussions on military suicide. It’s unfortunate that over the last 20-plus years, Senator Burr figured out how to make Washington work for him but couldn’t be bothered to work for the people he was elected to serve, especially North Carolina’s service members and veterans.”

Even when Burr was in the hearing chamber, he seldom had anything to add. According to transcripts of meetings, Burr had something to say in just six of them, or in under 10 percent of the hearings.

Burr, who now chairs the Intelligence Committee, did go on to serve as the top Republican on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and his campaign last month pointed to some of his work there to deal with the ongoing problems at the Veterans’ Administration. But he also managed to anger some veterans’ groups by blaming them for not helping veterans well enough.

Burr’s campaign would likely point to his veteran work in defense of his record, but it did not answer a request for comment on the list of Burr’s Armed Services Committee absences.

The new video (see below) notes that Burr said he did not start campaigning hard until recently because he didn’t want to be accused of not doing his “day job.”

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