The Washington Post

Coats: ‘I’m at the wrong hearing’

[posttv url="http://www.washingtonpost.com/posttv/sen-coats-im-at-the-wrong-hearing/2014/04/03/00174c06-bb64-11e3-80de-2ff8801f27af_video.html" ]

 

Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) was prepped for an appropriations hearing on the defense budget when he took his turn Wednesday afternoon, flipping papers on his lap, reading from them and commending the witness for his department’s prompt response to a letter Coats had sent about a military accounting office in his home state.

It was all fairly innocuous except for one problem: Coats was in the completely wrong hearing complimenting the wrong witness.

After he’d finished a lengthy opening to his question, a staffer slipped Coats a piece of paper. Coats read it to himself, looked up, and said, “I just got a note saying I’m at the wrong hearing.”

“Well, that would explain why I didn’t know anything about this letter,” said David Cohen, undersecretary of treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence.

Coats, who served in the Senate from 1989 to 1999, was U.S. ambassador to Germany and then returned to the Senate in 2011. He said that had never happened to him before. He saw familiar faces, he said, and thought he was in the right place. (Coats is on the Appropriations committee, but showed up at the wrong subcommittee.)

“I’ll go try to find out where I’m supposed to be,” Coats said.

Coats did find his place, in a hearing room down the hall in Dirksen scheduled an hour later, where Principal Deputy Defense Undersecretary Mike McCord knew all about the letter.

UPDATE: Good humored Coats acknowledged his mix-up on Twitter, musing it may be a Russian conspiracy, which is a possibility considering Vladimir Putin singled him out for a sanction last month.

 

Full transcript of the Coats blunder:

SENATOR DAN COATS: OK, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just want to follow up on a parochial question, if you don’t mind, and that is the Indiana delegation sent to the Pentagon, Undersecretary Hale, a letter dated March 24th, asking some questions about the AMFO initiative. That’s the Army financial management optimization program. Number one, I want to commend you because, unprecedented in my career, we received a letter back on March 26th, of the same year. So I’m very impressed with that. A word of thanks there in terms of response.

And I was just looking through that letter. It actually went to Congressman Carson. There are a number of us, both senators and members of our congressional delegation. And the question is on the review of this new system. It potentially involves here, and I quote from the letter, possibly including reductions in numbers of DFAS personnel at certain locations. We will make every effort to accommodate any changes through attrition.

I’m not here to get a specific answer from you but to better understand what is happening and how — I think there’s probably a trial plan that’s going to be put in place, if that rings a bell. What is you’re trying to accomplish and what are some of the consequences of that going to be to the current DFAS system, locations, personnel, et cetera?

SEN. TOM UDALL: Undersecretary Cohen, I just wanted to —

COATS: I just got a note saying I’m at the wrong hearing.

UDALL: Oh, OK.

COATS: I’ve got the right room number but the wrong hearing.

COHEN: Well, that would explain why I didn’t know anything about this letter. (Laughter.)

COATS: Well, this is the first time this has ever happened to me, but I hope it’s not a precursor of what —

UDALL: You’re always welcome in our committee.

COATS: Well, thank you. I saw some familiar faces and I thought this is where I should be.

COHEN: Thank you, Senator.

COATS: I hope you’re able to respond as quickly as the undersecretary of the Army responded. I’ll go try to find out where I’m supposed to be. Thank you.

Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The Democrats debated Thursday night. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Chris Cillizza on the Democratic debate...
On Clinton: She poked a series of holes in Sanders's health-care proposal and broadly cast him as someone who talks a big game but simply can't hope to achieve his goals.

On Sanders: If the challenge was to show that he could be a candidate for people other than those who already love him, he didn't make much progress toward that goal. But he did come across as more well-versed on foreign policy than in debates past.
The PBS debate in 3 minutes
Quoted
We are in vigorous agreement here.
Hillary Clinton, during the PBS Democratic debate, a night in which she and Sanders shared many of the same positions on issues
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the polls as he faces rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz heading into the S.C. GOP primary on Feb. 20.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
Fact Checker
Trump’s claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion
The billionaire's claim is highly dubious. Based on the costs of the Israeli security barrier (which is mostly fence) and the cost of the relatively simple fence already along the U.S.-Mexico border, an $8 billion price tag is simply not credible.
Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio Pinocchio
Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read

politics

in-the-loop

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.