WASHINGTON — Today, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) highlighted a few of his many 2016 bipartisan Senate accomplishments to date, which included legislation such as the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016, the successful implementation of additional education funding for children from low-income families in North Carolina, and Senate Intelligence hearing findings from directors of major intelligence agencies.
“After working for North Carolinians in the United States Senate this year, I’m glad to be back in North Carolina talking with families across our state about the issues that matter most,” said Senator Burr. “This year I’ve held four open Senate Intelligence Committee hearings, and helped pass legislation to fight the opioid crisis, to improve veteran’s dental health care, and to investigate cold case civil rights murders.”
Senator Burr continued, “Passing good policy is definitely important, but so is making sure that the legislation is implemented properly. This year the Senate has overseen implementation of the Child Care Development Block Grant, implementation of legislation to lower student loan interest rates, and implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which delivered control of K-12 education back to the states, and increased funding for more teachers for North Carolina.”
On Wednesday, the Senate passed a continuing resolution that will fund the government through December 9, provide $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus, an additional $37 million to combat opioid addiction, $297 million for critical projects at North Carolina military bases, $74.4 billion to fund the Department of Veterans Affairs and the VA hospital system, and a Burr provision that prevents President Obama from handing over the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base to Cuba.
National Security Hearings
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence — This year, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Burr held four open Committee oversight hearings including testimony from Directors from the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency. In one hearing, CIA Director Brennan noted that the Islamic State remains “as dangerous as ever” and that “our efforts have not reduced the group's terrorism capability and global reach.” Additionally, Chairman Burr stewarded the Intelligence Authorization for Fiscal Year 2017 through the Committee with Vice Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
Legislation Passed by the Senate
Combatting the Opioid Addiction Epidemic — Signed by the President in July, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), sponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), provides health professionals and law enforcement with the tools and resources they need to help families and communities struggling with opioid addiction. Read Senator Burr’s op-ed about CARA in the Wilmington Star Journal.
Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016 — This legislation, sponsored by Senator Burr and co-sponsored by Senators Claire McCaskill, (D-MO), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), was passed by the Senate in July. It reauthorizes the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act so that the FBI and the Department of Justice can continue to investigate unsolved civil rights-era murders. The Till family and cold case researcher Alvin Sykes were instrumental in passing this bill in the Senate.
Veterans Dental Benefits —Introduced by Senator Burr and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), the VA Dental Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2016 was signed into law, and continues the current veteran dental insurance program that was established by legislation authored by Senator Burr in 2010. It expands eligibility for the program to all veterans who do not currently receive dental benefits from the VA.
Zika Funding — As part of the Continuing Resolution, the Senate funded $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus. Senator Burr is a leader on pandemic preparedness, having authored the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, a law Sen. Burr authored with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). This legislation makes sure that we have the ability to respond quickly and efficiently to public health emergencies like Zika. He also introduced a bill to help local communities address Zika with Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).
Land and Water Conservation – Senator Burr is the leading champion in the Senate for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and in April, the Senate passed legislation making this conservation fund permanent. Established in 1964, the LWCF is one of America’s most successful federal conservation programs, conserving irreplaceable lands and improving outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the nation. Senator Burr has penned op-eds on his efforts to save LWCF in the Charlotte Observer and Greensboro News and Record.
Protecting Corolla’s Wild Horses – In April 2016, the Senate passed Senator Burr’s Corolla Wild Horse Protection Act. This legislation will take actions to ensure the genetic diversity and viability of the dwindling herd of Corolla horses so that these animals are not lost forever.
Successful Implementation of Legislation
Ensuring Safe, Affordable Child Care for Working Families — In 2014, Sen. Burr led the charge with Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) to pass the bipartisan Child Care and Development Block Grant Act. This law provides assistance to low-income working families so that they can afford safe child care. The law also requires child care providers to undergo criminal background checks. In June, Senator Burr led an oversight hearing on the implementation of the background check requirement. Witness Margaret Williams testified that enhanced background checks for child care workers helped identify and remove 80 registered sex offenders from child care facilities.
Lower Student Loan Rates — In July, student loan interest rates dropped for the third year in a row to 3.76 percent, down from a high, government-set rate of 6.8 percent in 2012. This decrease will save North Carolina families more than a billion dollars in this year alone. In 2013, Senator Burr and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) led the effort to pass the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013. This law allows students and their families to take advantage of today’s low interest rate environment and is directly responsible for today’s low student loan rate.
$24 Million for North Carolina Schools and Students — In 2015, Senator Burr fought to include a provision in the Every Student Succeeds Act that fixed an inequity in federal education funding that was shortchanging not only North Carolina’s teachers and schools, but also the low-income students they serve. This critical change to the law championed by Senator Burr will bring an additional $24 million for under privileged children in North Carolina. School districts will begin receiving the additional funding this October.