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.