The Hill falsely claimed "Clinton skip[ped] Senate hearing she called for"

››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS

An article in the November 1 print edition of The Hill falsely claimed that "Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) skipped an Environment and Public Works Committee hearing Wednesday [October 31] that she called for earlier this year." The article continued, "But if Clinton was seeking answers from administration officials [on the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada, which Clinton opposes] she was not doing it from the committee dais. She was nowhere to be seen at Wednesday's hearing."

In fact, Clinton was present at the October 31 committee hearing, where she stated her opposition to the Yucca Mountain proposal and questioned administration officials. Transcript and video from the hearing is available on Clinton's Senate website, as well as on the Environment and Public Works Senate Committee website. The article appears to have been removed from The Hill website, but Media Matters for America could find no evidence that The Hill issued a correction.

Additionally, October 31 reports on the hearing by McClatchy Newspapers and the Associated Press noted Clinton's presence. From the McClatchy report:

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama on Wednesday declared themselves flatly opposed to building a nuclear waste repository in Nevada, a clear indication that the 2008 presidential election could end a 25-year effort to build the controversial dump.

Clinton delivered her opposition in person and Obama by letter as the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held its first hearing on Yucca Mountain since Democrats took over Congress in January.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the panel's chair, said she had scheduled the hearing at the request of Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, who has been campaigning in Nevada on the issue. The state caucuses are Jan. 19.

From the AP report:

Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Hillary Clinton joined Nevada officials in lashing out at the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump at a Senate hearing Wednesday.

[...]

Clinton requested the Senate environment committee hearing after promising Nevada voters she'd do so.

The Hill also reported that "Clinton's absence drew a strong rebuke from Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee. ... Inhofe did not mince words about Clinton's absence: 'When Sen. Clinton had the opportunity to ask "hard questions" of administration officials about Yucca Mountain, she was missing in action. In fact, Sen. Clinton failed to ask any questions because she was absent from the last two [Environment and Public Works] hearings on Yucca Mountain.['] " Inhofe was present at the October 31 hearing. The quote The Hill attributed to Inhofe on Clinton's alleged absence is identical to a quote attributed to Inhofe by the Las Vegas Review-Journal on July 26. From the July 26 edition of the Review-Journal:

Inhofe questioned Clinton's call for Senate action. He said she did not attend a committee hearing on Yucca Mountain on March 1, 2006, and a subcommittee hearing on nuclear waste on Sept. 14.

In a statement, Inhofe said he took exception to a Clinton comment to reporters that the Republicans when they ran Congress were "not willing to ask the hard questions" about the repository.

"When Senator Clinton had the opportunity to ask 'hard questions' of administration officials about Yucca Mountain, she was missing in action," Inhofe said.

"In fact, Senator Clinton failed to ask any questions because she was absent from the last two EPW hearings on Yucca Mountain," he said.

One of the hearings was by a subcommittee that Clinton did not belong to. But committee members are allowed to attend all meetings, said Marc Morano, a Republican committee aide.

"She could still attend," Morano said. "Either she did not consider it important enough or she was too busy to attend."

Clinton's campaign responded with information on the senator's whereabouts on the days of the hearings.

On March 1, she attended an overlapping hearing on the Ryan White CARE Act, an aid bill for HIV/AIDS patients.

On Sept. 14, Clinton chaired a meeting of the Democratic Steering Committee that involved international women's rights. She then attended a Senate Armed Services Committee closed meeting on military commissions to handle the treatment of enemy combatants.

Although the article has apparently been removed from The Hill's website, it has been posted on websites such as Free Republic and AgainstHillary.com.

The November 1 Hill article -- "Clinton skips Senate hearing she called for" -- reprinted below in its entirety:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) skipped an Environment and Public Works Committee hearing Wednesday that she called for earlier this year.

Clinton's absence drew a strong rebuke from Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Clinton, a member of the committee, praised Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) a few weeks ago for scheduling the hearing on the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada, a project that many Nevada voters oppose fiercely.

"I applaud Chairman Boxer for scheduling this important hearing, a step that I called for earlier this year," she said. "I am strongly opposed to Yucca Mountain because there are too many unanswered questions about both the geology of the site and the integrity of the science done to support the decision to store waste there.

"That's why this hearing is so important. We need answers ... and I will be asking for them on the 31st," Clinton added.

But if Clinton was seeking answers from administration officials, she was not doing it from the committee dais. She was nowhere to be seen at Wednesday's hearing.

Inhofe did not mince words about Clinton's absence: "When Sen. Clinton had the opportunity to ask 'hard questions' of administration officials about Yucca Mountain, she was missing in action. In fact, Sen. Clinton failed to ask any questions because she was absent from the last two [Environment and Public Works] hearings on Yucca Mountain.

Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), Clinton's chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, however, made sure to weigh in on the hearing. He penned a letter to Boxer dated Oct. 30 stating his opposition to the Yucca project.

Obama is not a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

"I believe that it is no longer a sustainable federal policy for Yucca Mountain to be considered as a permanent repository," Obama wrote.

Nevada voters are of particular interest to the Democratic hopefuls because the state is scheduled to hold a presidential caucus on Jan. 19.

Clinton's Senate spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

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Elections
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Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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