Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA)
Authored by Senators Burr and Edward Kennedy (D-MA), PAHPA created the framework for ensuring the federal government is prepared to respond to emerging health threats that could jeopardize our national security, whether that threat is from a naturally-occurring source like Ebola, or is man-made, such as a terrorist attack with a biological weapon. This important law established critical tools, like the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, to accelerate the development of vaccines and treatments for diseases like Smallpox and Ebola so that our Nation is prepared to protect American lives in the midst of an emerging health crisis. PAHPA also created the position of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response so that there is one person in charge of coordinating public health preparation and response and who has a singular 24/7 focus on this mission. His work in this area has earned Senator Burr a reputation as a thoughtful voice in Congress on biosecurity issues, including how the federal government should respond to the Zika virus.
Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act
Senator Burr worked with a bipartisan group of members to write and pass the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act into law in 2014. This landmark law lets families who have a child with a disability save for their lifelong expenses through 529-style savings accounts. Before the ABLE Act, Americans with disabilities could not have more than $2000 to their name without losing critical benefits they need to survive and get medical care. The ABLE Act was a significant step forward and has been heralded as one of the most important pieces of disability legislation since the Americans with Disabilities Act. Senator Burr has been nationally recognized for his work on behalf of Americans with disabilities from organizations such as Autism Speaks, the National Down Syndrome Society and The Arc.
Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act
In 2013, when the government was set to double interest rates on student loans, Senator Burr worked with a group of his colleagues to write the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act. This bill, which is now law, tied student loan rates to the market, dramatically reducing interest rates for students who have school loans. Nationally, this law has saved $46 billion for students and their families. It will save North Carolina students more than a billion dollars in 2016 alone. Senator Burr is continuing to propose and push for bipartisan legislation to address college affordability and student loans.
Funding for K-12 Schools
In 2015, Senator Burr was the leading advocate in Congress to fix a longstanding inequality in how federal education dollars for teacher salaries are allocated to schools. For years, states like North Carolina were cheated out of their fair share of funding for low-income schools because of a loophole that sends more federal education money to states that no longer had the same number of low-income children as North Carolina. Because of his work, North Carolina now will receive $24 million more in federal funding to hire more, and better-trained, teachers.
Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act (Janey Ensminger Act)
Senator Burr wrote the 2012 law, the Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act, that requires the VA to provide health care to veterans and their family members who have been sickened by devastating diseases as a result of exposure to contaminated well-water at Camp Lejeune. Thousands of Navy and Marine veterans and their families who had lived on Camp Lejeune in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s drank and bathed in water that was laced with toxic chemicals from industrial dumping before the base was designated a Superfund site in 1988. This law is a major milestone in these veterans’ quest for justice, a struggle that was the subject of the critically-acclaimed documentary Semper Fi: Always Faithful.
Funding for the National Institutes of Health
Senator Burr has been a leading champion in Congress for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The research supported by the NIH is key to encouraging new discoveries, advances, and cures for devastating diseases and conditions like Alzheimer’s, cancer, and ALS. In the House of Representatives, Senator Burr supported the successful effort to double the NIH budget in five years. In the Senate, Burr has annually led a bipartisan effort with Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) to advocate for strong funding for the NIH. Their advocacy has resulted in a $2 billion increase in funding for the NIH in Fiscal Year 2016 -- the largest increase in the NIH budget in six years. Senator Burr has repeatedly been recognized for his strong support for the NIH and biomedical research and development on behalf of North Carolinians.
Bringing new VA Medical Facilities to North Carolina
As the Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Senator Burr fought successfully to get the Department of Veterans Affairs to place modern health care centers and clinics in the communities where veterans live. For many years, the VA relied on a few centrally located medical centers, forcing veterans to drive long distances to get needed care from the VA. But Senator Burr has worked to bring 19 VA medical facilities to communities all across North Carolina so that veterans could have better access to the health care they were promised. Community based outpatient clinics have opened in Franklin, Jacksonville, Hamlet, Robeson and Rutherford to name a few. In the past year alone, the VA has opened new health care centers in Fayetteville, Kernersville, and Charlotte. There are now 28 VA medical facilities located throughout North Carolina. Senator Burr is currently working to secure the 29th for our state.
Veterans Choice Act
In 2014, when Senator Burr was serving as the Ranking Member of Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, he joined with Senators John McCain and Tom Coburn to author the Veterans Choice Act, legislation that created the new Veterans Choice Program. They drafted this bill in direct response to the disturbing revelation that many veterans who had bravely served our country and survived combat were dying as they waited for medical care from the VA. Passed into law as part of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, Veterans Choice has allowed veterans to see a private doctor of their choice if they are facing a long wait at the VA or have to drive far to get to a VA medical facility. The law that ultimately passed also provided additional resources to enhance VA medical facilities and to hire more doctors and nurses.
Military Spouses Residency Relief Act
Signed on Veterans Day 2009, Senator Burr’s Military Spouses Residency Relief Act gave military spouses the same residency rights that are granted to active-duty servicemembers. There’s no question that military spouses make many sacrifices in support of our Armed Forces. But, even though they frequently move due to military orders, military spouses had been denied the same residency rights as active-duty servicemembers for decades. This meant military spouses were required to frequently change vehicle and voter registrations as well as file tax returns for multiple states. Thanks to Senator Burr’s law, today active-duty military and their spouses can choose a permanent state of residence. His work on this law earned Senator Burr the Colonel Arthur T. Marix Award, the highest award from the Military Officers Association of America, in 2010.
Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act
Signed into law in 2010, Senator Burr joined with Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) to craft legislation to strengthen support for caregivers and attendants of veterans and to help ensure veterans in need of institutional care have the choice of receiving care from a family member at home. This law currently supports family caregivers, who play an important and unique role in helping to meet veterans' personal care needs, both physically and emotionally. This law also included Senator Burr’s bill that started a program that now provides dental coverage for veterans and their families.
Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act
Senator Burr’s bipartisan Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 was passed by Congress after a series of high profile hacks exposed the personal information of millions of Americans to online identity thieves, including Americans with high level security clearances. This new law helps protect Americans’ personal privacy by taking steps to stop future cyber-attacks before they happen. It creates an environment that encourages the voluntary sharing of information about cyber threats, allowing companies, government and other organizations to get a better understanding of the current threats that criminals or foreign agents may use against them.
Haqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act
In response to inaction by the Obama Administration, Senator Burr introduced theHaqqani Network Terrorist Designation Act torequire the Secretary of State to report to Congress on whether the Haqqani Network met the criteria for designation as a terrorist organization. By designating a group as a terrorist organization, the United States can more actively pursue them, limit their financial, property, and travel interests, and limit the ability of foreign governments to provide them with aid. The Haqqanis have been responsible for many high profile attacks, including a 2011 truck bombing that injured 77 U.S. troops, a 2011 attack on the U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul in which nine people were killed, and a 2012 attack on a civilian hotel in Afghanistan that left 20 people dead. After Senator Burr’s bill was signed into law, the Secretary of State designated the Haqqani Network as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2012.
Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016
With our nation facing more threats every day, America’s security depends on our intelligence community’s ability to detect and thwart attacks against our homeland, our personnel and interests overseas, and our allies. The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, crafted by Senators Burr and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and signed into law in December 2015, continued funding for the U.S. intelligence community so that it has the resources it needs to thwart terrorism, while also making sure there is vigorous congressional oversight of intelligence activities.
Child Care and Development Block Grant Act
In 2014, Senator Burr led the charge to pass legislation, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, that was signed into law. This landmark legislation expands access to child care for low-income parents so that they can go to work and also have peace of mind that their children are in safe care. This law requires that child care providers undergo criminal background checks to ensure our children are in safe hands, and it sets high standards for the quality of care overall. For his work, Senator Burr was honored in 2015 as the Early Learning Champion by the North Carolina Child Care Coalition.
Military Sex Offender Reporting Act
In 2015, Congress passed Senator Burr’s legislation, the Military Sex Offender Reporting Act, which closed a legal loophole that had allowed sex offenders who had been convicted under the military justice system to evade registration with the National Sex Offender Registry when they were released from prison. A Scripps investigation found that this loophole had enabled hundreds of convicted sex offenders to evade registering and even allowed some to commit horrendous crimes again. But thanks to Senator Burr’s law, this loophole has been closed.
Preserving the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)
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. It requires no taxpayer funding. In September 2015, LWCF expired, but Senator Burr led the charge to bring awareness to the importance of LWCF and to ensure that this fund was renewed. Thanks to Senator Burr’s advocacy, Congress extended the LWCF for three years. Conservation advocates cite Burr’s unwavering commitment and leadership to LWCF as a key factor in this success, stating that Burr “played a crucial leadership role in securing this victory.” In addition to introducing legislation to make LWCF permanent and delivering remarks on the floor, Senator Burr has penned op-eds in the Charlotte Observer and Greensboro News and Record on LWCF. In 2015, Senator Burr received the Conservation Leadership Award, the highest award given by the Nature Conservancy.
Expanded Tax Deduction for Teachers
In 2015, Senator Burr joined with Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) to offer an amendment that extended and expanded the Teacher Deduction for classroom expenses. This amendment, which is now law, increased the $250 Teacher Expense Deduction, allowing it to rise with inflation. It also allows teachers to use the deduction for professional development. Teachers open up their own wallets to buy supplies for their classrooms, all with their students’ academic achievement at heart. This provision of the tax code allows them to do so with a break on the taxes they pay to Uncle Sam. This tax deduction, which had expired at the end of 2014, had not been updated since 2002.
Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act
This bipartisan law, which Senator Burr helped write, continues critical programs for seniors, like Meals on Wheels, that help older Americans stay in their homes and local communities longer. Senator Burr fought to ensure that North Carolina would receive a more equitable share of the funding for Older Americans Act programs. This is important as more and more seniors move to and retire in North Carolina. As a result of this law and the Senator’s work on it, almost 2 million North Carolina seniors stand to benefit from state and local programs that provide needed support for them and their families, such as caregiver and meal assistance.
Advancing Breakthrough Therapies for Patients Act
The Advancing Breakthrough Therapies for Patients Act was signed into law in 2012. Senator Burr, along with Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), wrote this bill to expedite the development and approval of breakthrough drugs for Americans who are battling serious or life-threatening diseases. In just the first four years since Senator Burr’s bill became law, the FDA has designated over 130 products as “breakthrough” therapies, and over 45 of these have been approved, helping Americans to be able to benefit more quickly from cutting-edge therapies to treat and fight serious illnesses like cancer.
Kilah Davenport Child Protection Act
Named for Kilah Davenport, a young North Carolina girl who was severely abused and eventually died from injuries inflicted by her stepfather, this legislation was aimed at better protecting children from child abusers. The Kilah Davenport Act was signed into law in 2014 and required the U.S. Department of Justice to issue a report detailing penalties for child abuse in each state. Additionally, this law increases federal penalties against those convicted of child abuse multiple times in areas of federal jurisdiction. Senator Burr’s legislation, which was sponsored in the House of Representatives by Congressman Robert Pittenger, was supported by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) and the National Children's Alliance.
Child Protection Compact Act
The abuse of children in forced labor, prostitution, or as child soldiers is an unacceptable attack on human rights. No child should ever be victimized by human trafficking but, sadly, such actions occur around the world every day. That’s why Senator Burr teamed up with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to introduce the Child Protection Compact Act, which seeks to protect and rescue children from trafficking by creating “Child Protection Compacts” between the United States and countries with significant numbers of children in human trafficking. Endorsed by NGOs like the International Justice Mission and World Vision, the Child Protection Compact Act was signed into law as part of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. Since its enactment, the United States has signed a compact with Ghana in 2015 to assist the country in developing a national plan to combat and prevent child trafficking and forced labor.
North Korean Refugee Adoption Act
Every year, thousands of North Koreans flee the tyranny of a brutal dictatorship and seek refuge in neighboring countries. But North Korean refugees who are children often face legal issues that keep them from being adequately protected under the laws of the host country, leaving them with no rights and vulnerable to child traffickers. In 2011, Senator Burr introduced the North Korean Refugee Adoption Act, which tasks the State Department with developing a strategy for assisting these stateless North Korean children. Senator Burr’s bill, which became law as the North Korean Child Welfare Act, directs the State Department to regularly brief Congress on efforts to advocate for the best interest of North Korean children living in third countries, including the development of a strategy to facilitate adoptions of children with American families, if those orphans cannot be reunified with family.
Chimp Haven is Home Act
Working with Dr. Jane Goodall in 2007, Senator Burr authored a bill called the Chimp Haven is Home Act. This legislation took steps to protect medically-retired chimpanzees living at the Chimp Haven in Keithville, Louisiana. The Chimp Haven provides sanctuary to over one hundred chimps, many of whom have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis. Senator Burr’s bill, which is now federal law, protects these chimps in their retirement and ensures they will no longer be used for invasive medical research. His work has earned him recognition as a Legislative Leader by the Humane Society.
Animal Crush Prohibition Act
In 2010, Senator Burr partnered with Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to write the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, a law that criminalized the creation, sale, distribution, advertising, marketing, and exchange of animal crush videos. Animal "crush" videos are violent, obscene depictions of animal cruelty - often involving young women torturing small animals to death. These extreme acts of cruelty have no place in our society, and thanks to this law, are now outlawed in interstate commerce. The Kyl-Merkley-Burr legislation was championed by leading animal welfare organizations, including the Humane Society.
Poison Control Centers
Senator Burr teamed up with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) in 2008 and in 2013 to introduce legislation to maintain and strengthen the Poison Control Center program. The Poison Center Network Act of 2013, which became law, continued critical support for poison control centers, including Carolinas Poison Control Center in Charlotte. As any parent of a child knows, poison control centers keep Americans safe and healthy by preventing poisonings and giving families immediate access to critical medical advice 24 hours a day. Poison control centers have fielded millions of calls, which have helped to reduce visits to hospitals, limit injuries, and save lives.
Preserving Public Access to Cape Hatteras Beaches Act
North Carolina is blessed with some of the nation’s most beautiful beaches, and these beaches are both a critical habitat for wildlife and a key part of our state’s tourism economy. In 2014, Congress passed Senator Burr’s legislation, the Preserving Public Access to Cape Hatteras Beaches Act, into law. This bipartisan law helps ensure that North Carolinians can continue to enjoy access to our scenic beaches, while also making sure our coastal wildlife are protected for generations to come.
Master Program for Historically Black Colleges and Universities
In 2008, Senator Burr was the lead author of a law that established the Master Degree Programs for HBCUs under Title III of the Higher Education Act. This innovative program is responsible for expanding master-level education programs at our nation’s HBCUs and promoting continued education for African Americans. The program's purpose is to improve graduate education opportunities at the master's level in mathematics, engineering, physical or natural sciences, computer science, information technology, nursing, allied health, or other scientific disciplines. Senator Burr continues to advocate for this program in his role as the Co-Chair of the Congressional HBCU caucus, a position he shares with North Carolina Representative Alma Adams.
Museum and Library Services Act
North Carolina has a robust library and museum community. In 2010, Senator Burr teamed up with Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) to continue programs that are essential to libraries and museums across the nation. The Museum and Library Services Act of 2010 funds services that support museums and libraries in fulfilling their public service and educational missions in our local towns and communities. The Museum and Library Services Act maintains the heritage of museums and libraries in promoting lifelong learning and citizen access to information, and Senator Burr has been recognized for his work on behalf of America’s libraries and museums.
Drug Supply Chain Security Act
The Drug Supply Chain Security Act strengthened and improved the supply chain for prescription medications in order to better safeguard Americans from counterfeit or contaminated drugs. Senator Burr joined with Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) to craft this bill, which was included in the Drug Quality and Security Act that was signed into law in November 2013 and represents the most comprehensive effort to safeguard the drug supply chain since 1988. Securing our nation’s drug supply chain is critical to making sure that the medications we take are safe and effective, and this law is helping to give Americans greater peace of mind.
Funding for the Ryan White CARE Act
Senator Burr has been a strong advocate for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, a program that provides funding for the treatment and care of HIV patients who are in the greatest need of assistance. Senator Burr successfully fought to fix a disparity in the Ryan White program that was shortchanging rural and minority patients who live in the South. This fix has been critical for better meeting North Carolina’s growing needs among HIV/AIDS patients. Senator Burr has been steadfast in fighting to make sure that the tens of thousands of North Carolinians living with HIV have access to the life-saving treatment they need.
Elimination of the Residency Requirement for ABLE Accounts
In 2015, Senator Burr, along with Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), offered an amendment that eliminated the state residency requirement in the ABLE Act. This amendment, now law, ensures ABLE accounts are treated just like traditional 529 accounts, which allow a student or family to have an account in any state rather than be limited to their state of residence. This change means families will have more choices for where to open an ABLE account. This amendment was supported by a broad range of organizations, including American Foundation for the Blind, Autism Speaks, College Savings Foundation, Investment Company Institute, National Disability Institute, National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), SIFMA, and The Arc.
Leveling the Playing Field for Cleaner Alternative Fuels
In 2015, Senator Burr, along with Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), offered an amendment that adjusted the federal highway excise tax for natural gas and propane to put them on equal footing with diesel fuel. The amendment, which eventually became law, now allows natural gas to compete fairly with diesel. Previously, Americans were unfairly paying about 70% more in taxes to fill up their cars and trucks with comparatively cleaner natural gas than diesel. By eliminating this tax disparity, the Burr legislation advances the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel, a win for both consumers and the environment.
Gold Star Wives
Since 2010, Senator Burr has led the annual effort in the United States Senate to recognize Gold Star Wives Day. This day provides an opportunity to honor the members of the Gold Star Wives of America, a volunteer organization that has assisted widows and survivors of fallen military members since it was founded in 1945, and thank them for their untiring efforts. Members of Gold Star Wives, both women and men, have lost someone extremely important to them in service to our country, yet they still have compassion to serve others. Gold Star Wives Day is not only a day of tribute, it is also a day to raise awareness of the sacrifices these families have made for our freedoms. For his work on behalf of military survivors, Senator Burr was recognized with the Gold Star Wives Award of Excellence in 2011.
Honoring the Veterans of the Korean War
In 2010, Congress passed and the President signed Senate Joint Resolution 32, a resolution introduced by Senator Burr that recognized the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War and honored the war’s veterans. Despite being called the “Forgotten War,” the Korean War holds deep historical and strategic significance to our country and to many families. Over the course of three years, almost 1.8 million Americans were deployed to the Pacific and more than 54,000 American servicemen and servicewomen gave their lives.
Healthy Start Reauthorization Act of 2007
Senator Burr worked with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to introduce and pass legislation to continue the Healthy Start program. Signed into law by President Bush in 2008, the Healthy Start Reauthorization Act of 2007 supports programs that partner with health care providers, mothers, and families to improve health outcomes for babies in their first year of life. These programs, like North Carolina’s Baby Love, work to reduce the incidence of low birthweights, improve access to prenatal care, and ultimately decrease the risk of infant mortality. For the past 25 years, this initiative has been addressing risk factors for babies and mothers to help babies achieve a healthy start in life.
Veterans Dental Insurance and the VA Dental Reauthorization Act of 2016
Understanding the importance of proper dental care to the overall health of our veterans, Senator Burr successfully shepherded legislation through Congress in 2010 that now provides veterans with dental coverage. And in 2016, the President signed into law Senator Burr’s bipartisan bill to expand eligibility for that dental program to all veterans who do not currently receive dental benefits from the VA. The veterans and family members who participate in the program have given it high marks for access to care and quality. And now thanks to Senator Burr’s VA Dental Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2016, veterans will continue to receive this important health care benefit.