Melancon juggles policy and politics of oil spill

He instead attended a press conference with some of the most conservative members of the House, such as Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), where he again urged the administration to lift the moratorium.

The hearing ran from approximately 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

His absence was notable for a couple reasons.

When Melancon resigned from the Budget Committee in March, his office spokeswoman said he wanted "to devote more of his time and efforts to his work on the Energy and Commerce Committee, where he can more directly fight for Louisiana's thousands of workers and businesses in the oil-and-gas industry."

And Vitter's campaign blasted him for not attending Tuesday's session.

"Melancon's constituents must be furious that the person they elected to serve their district won’t even go to bat for them," Luke Bolar, a spokesman for Vitter's campaign, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, a new Public Policy Polling survey out Wednesday showed Melancon trailing Vitter, but only by 9 points.