08.06.10

A Message from Senator Richard Burr

It was a busy week in Washington leading up to the August recess period. I am very excited to be back in North Carolina traveling across the state meeting with North Carolinians like you, listening to your concerns, and working with you to ensure that your voice is heard in Washington.

Recently, you may have seen television commercials promoting the President's health care plan for seniors on Medicare. Not only are the claims made in this commercial misleading, these commercials may not even be a legal use of taxpayer dollars. On Wednesday, I joined Senators Coburn (Oklahoma), Thune (South Dakota), McCain (Arizona), and Barrasso (Wyoming) in sending a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius expressing our disapproval of the federal government using taxpayer dollars to fund and buy airtime for a commercial that touts the alleged benefits of the new health care law. There is a time and a place for debate on legislation and that is on the floor of the House and the Senate. To read the text of our letter, please click here. You can also hear an interview I did with Bill LuMaye on WPTF in which we discussed this issue by clicking here.

The Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs met on Thursday for a mark-up meeting. At mark-up, the Committee sits down to vote "yes" or "no" on several amendments and pieces of legislation that various Senators have offered before sending them along to the full Senate for a vote.

Legislation that I offered and were approved include: a bill that provides $43 million for additional housing for homeless veterans; an amendment that helps ensure that veterans' Second Amendment rights are respected; an amendment to improve the correlation between a VA employee's pay and their performance; legislation that provides for automatic cost-of-living-adjustments to veterans' disability compensation without the need for Congress to act each year; an amendment to help streamline the claims process for VA benefits; an amendment that requires that bid savings on major VA medical facility projects be used for othermajor VA medical facility construction projects; and an amendment that establishes a pathway to help America's servicemembers transfer their military skills into border-protection and other law enforcement positions.

I'm also pleased that the Veterans' Affairs committee approved legislation that addressed much needed improvements to the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. However, the Committee did not act in the best interest of North Carolina veterans when it voted against my amendment to provide health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to veterans and their family members exposed to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune.This is a disservice to the people who have sacrificed on behalf of this country, and I will continue to push on this issue. During the hearing, I strongly urged my colleagues to rethink this issue. Click here to see those remarks.

On Thursday afternoon, the Senate confirmed Elena Kagan to serve on the United States Supreme Court by a vote of 63-37. As regular readers of this newsletter know, I did not support Ms. Kagan's nomination as I feel she has consistently substituted her personal beliefs for the letter of the law. With no judicial history, Senators were forced to look at decisions she made in her academic life and the policies for which she advocated prior to her nomination. I am very concerned by her repeated attempts to keep military recruiters off college campuses in a time of war, and I am also concerned about her views on Second Amendment rights and her lack of sympathy for law-abiding gun owners. See my speech on the Senate floor about why I voted against her in two parts, here and here.

The good news is that, late yesterday evening, the Senate finally confirmed Judge James A. Wynn Jr. to the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. He is well-qualified for this role, and I hope that the Senate will move swiftly to confirm Judge Albert Diaz to 4th Circuit Court as well.

Last week, I mentioned that I will be co-hosting the Ninth Annual Defense and Economic Development Trade Show and Government Procurement Workshops in Fayetteville along with Sen. Hagan, Rep. Kissel and others. The trade show will allow for North Carolina companies to showcase their expertise for Department of Defense and major defense organizations who may be looking for partnerships. I believe that this will be a productive time for everyone involved, and will further the kind of public-private collaboration that fortifies the strength and scope of our military. The Trade Show will be held in the Howard Sisk Gym at the Fayetteville Technical Community College on August 10th from 9 am - 2 pm. Please visit burr.senate.govto register.

The Senate will return on September 13th. Until then, I hope to accomplish much while travelling throughout the State over the next several weeks. Please check my website for updates on upcoming events.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Richard Burr