Evan Bayh’s senatorial campaign said that the reason the former Indiana senator skipped 92 percent of his Aging Committee hearings was because of the demands of other more important committees he was on, but records show that Bayh’s propensity to skip hearings went beyond just the Aging Committee.
The Bayh campaign defended his attendance record in the Senate after it was reported last week that he skipped 92 percent of hearings that the Aging Committee held during the 12 years Bayh was on it. The report noted that Bayh skipped every single hearing during his final five years.
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The campaign discounted the criticism, telling Roll Call that his absence was only because of his position on other "A-level" committees.
"Bayh’s campaign points out that for 21 of about 85 Aging Committee hearings the senator missed during the last five years of his tenure, he was attending Banking, Armed Services, or Intelligence hearings," Roll Call wrote.
An analysis of hearing records, however, found that Bayh was rarely present at any Senate Armed Services Committee hearings either.
Publicly available records from the Armed Services Committee, which records attendance for each hearing, show that Bayh was absent for more than 76 percent of hearings during his eight years on the committee.
Bayh’s first two years on the committee were his best, from an attendance standpoint. In the 108th Congress, which spanned from 2003 to 2004, Bayh attended 23 out of 82, or 28 percent, of the hearings the committee held.
Bayh’s attendance dipped for his remaining six years as a senator.
In the 109th Congress, Bayh attended just 22 percent (18 out of 82) of hearings held by the Armed Services committee. In the 110th he attended 25 percent (22 out of 86), and in the 111th he attended 19 percent (16 out of 82).
In 2010, Bayh’s final year in Congress, he skipped hearings on "U.S. Policy Towards The Islamic Republic Of Iran," "The Situation in Afghanistan," and "The Progress in Preventing Military Suicides and Challenges in Detection and Care of the Invisible Wounds of War."
Neither the Banking nor Intelligence Committee takes attendance records that are made available to the public.
Through video, transcripts, and recorded votes taken during Banking Committee hearings, it was determined that there was no trace of Bayh at nearly 70 percent of hearings held in his last two years.
Among the at least 60 missed hearings was an October 2009 briefing on "The State of the Nation’s Housing Market" and a February 2010 one on "Prohibiting Certain High-Risk Investment Activities by Banks and Bank Holding Companies."
There are not enough materials made available to the public by the Intelligence Committee to make a determination on Bayh’s participation rate.
Bayh announced early in 2010 that he would be retiring from the Senate at the end of the year. In a New York Times op-ed he wrote that his decision was due to concerns that Congress had failed to act on "challenges of historic import." Bayh complained in the piece that the failure of Congress was due to dwindling interaction and a lack of dialogue between senators.
The Bayh campaign has not responded to Washington Free Beacon requests for comment.