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U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, a freshman Republican from Long Island, sits on the Veterans Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives. But he’s barely seen, according to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In an article from Newsday, a DCCC spokesman accused Zeldin of missing two-thirds of the Veterans Affairs Committee's hearings. His Democratic opponent for the 1st Congressional District seat, Anna Throne-Holst, tweeted a jab at Zeldin based on the DCCC charge.
"No Show Zeldin continues to miss work, missed 2/3rds of Veterans Affairs Hearings," her tweet read. She linked to the article in the tweet.
Zeldin’s office says he attended nearly three-quarters of the meetings held by the committee and subcommittees to which he belongs.
So, who’s right: Zeldin or Throne-Holst and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee? We checked transcripts and webcasts to find out.
The initial reply from Zeldin’s office cited his attendance at both hearings and markup sessions. During hearings, lawmakers listen to witnesses testify. In markup sessions, lawmakers meet to amend a bill. So the back and forth between Throne-Holst and Zeldin when the story first broke refferred to two different sets of numbers.
We based our analysis on Zeldin’s attendance at Veterans Affairs hearings, since that’s the charge that Throne-Holst and the DCCC made. The committee has held 56 hearings since Zeldin took office and joined the committee in 2015.
Zeldin’s office said he attended 36 of the 56 hearings. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said he attended 20.
To verify attendance at hearings, you can check the official transcript or watch the webcast of the hearing. A hearing’s transcript includes an attendance record. But it takes time for transcripts to be available. When the DCCC made its claim in early August, the most recent official transcript was from a hearing on June 10, 2015. So only four of the 16 disputed hearings have transcripts available.
Zeldin is marked as present in two of the official transcripts for meetings that the DCCC charged him with missing. In another transcript, Zeldin was not listed as present when his office said he was there.
How many hearings did Zeldin attend?
Verifying Zeldin’s attendance at the other hearings meant watching the webcasts. So that’s what we did.
In the webcasts for 13 of the hearings. Zeldin is either heard voting or seen in plain view in five of the hearings the DCCC charged him with missing.
We did not find Zeldin in eight of the hearings his office said he attended. That does not mean he wasn’t there. Zeldin’s seat is on the outside of the dais, which is sometimes cut off from the camera’s view.
We found proof from transcripts and webcasts that Zeldin attended at least 28 of the 56 hearings.
The DCCC and Throne-Holst claim Zeldin missed two-thirds of the Veterans Affairs hearings.
We found through webcasts and transcripts that their claim doesn’t add up. Zeldin attended at least seven hearings the DCCC claimed he missed. Zeldin attended at least half of the hearings. He did not miss two-thirds of the hearings.
We rate this claim from Throne-Holst and the DCCC as False.
Tweet from Anna Throne-Holst, Aug. 9, 2016
Lee Zeldin missed Veterans Affairs hearings, Democrats say, Newsday, Aug. 9, 2016, Accessed Aug. 10, 2016
Email from Jennifer DiSiena from Congressman Lee Zeldin’s office
Email from Bryan Lesswing from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Hearings listed for the House Veterans Affairs Committee, 2015 - 2016, Accessed Aug. 10 - 16, 2016
List of 16 hearings the DCCC and Zeldin’s office gave different answers for, compiled Aug. 16, 2016
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