By Robert Mann
U.S. Senate records show that Sen. David Vitter, who served on that body’s Armed Services Committee from January 2009 to January 2015, missed two of three public committee hearing on Syria held from 2012 through 2014.
Vitter, running for Louisiana governor, is seeking to make an issue of what he calls an “influx” of Syrian refugees. On Sunday, he wrote New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, demanding the mayor take immediate action to stop refugees from entering New Orleans. He wrote, in part:
As you know, New Orleans is expecting an influx of Syrian refugees, some of whom have already arrived. Based on all the information available to me, I have no confidence that these refugees are being fully and properly vetted to ensure they contain absolutely no terrorists [sic] elements.
Please join me and others in demanding that President Obama stop accepting these Syrian refugees immediately, and stop settling any into New Orleans, given this unacceptable lax security and lack of full vetting on their backgrounds.
There is no “influx” of refugees into Louisiana, as Vitter suggests. According to the U.S. State Department, only 14 Syrian refugees have been settled in Louisiana this year.
Vitter is also running online petitions about the issue on Facebook, making robo-calls to Louisiana voters about the refugees and even attempting to use the issue to raise money for his campaign.
However, Vitter’s interest in matters relating to Syria appears to be new-found.
Transcripts of U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearings on March 7, 2012 and April 17, 2013 show Vitter absent both times. Vitter was present for some or all of another hearing on September 16, 2014.
These were the only open hearings the committee held on Syria during those years. (Vitter is no longer a member the committee, as of January 2015.)
Vitter was also absent for several other important Armed Services Committee hearings, dating back to 2011.
Correction: This post originally said Vitter was absent for all three Armed Service Committee hearings on Syria. He was absent for two of the three hearings. I regret the error.