05.20.12

Legislative Update from Senator Richard Burr

Unanimous Rejection of the President's Budget Proposal

Despite our troubled economy and our $15 trillion national debt, President Obama and Senate Democrats refuse to propose a responsible federal budget. On Wednesday, the Senate voted unanimously against the President's budget proposal which failed to rein in spending and reduce the national debt, imposed taxes that would have inhibited economic growth, ignored the pending insolvency of Medicare and Social Security, and used budget gimmicks to create the illusion of savings.

Merely voting down this destructive proposal is not enough, however. We made a promise to the American people who elected us into the Senate to do our jobs, yet it has been over three years since the Democrat controlled Senate passed a budget. This is inexcusable. A responsible budget is a vital first step toward getting our economy back on track and reducing our massive debt. American families understand that times are tough, and they are making sacrifices in order to make ends meet. The federal government, on the other hand, continues to spend like there is no tomorrow. We need a serious budget that will tackle our economic crisis, work towards job creation, and provide for the security of future generations, not more of the same inaction and lack of resolve.

I talked about this at length in an interview with Jerri Jameson on WWNC yesterday morning. In case you missed it, you can listen it to ithereor read the full transcript on myblog.

DoD Should Heed GAO's Advice and Care for Lejuene Vets, Families

Marines, sailors, and their families who lived and worked at Camp Lejeune from the 1950s to 1980s were exposed to known human carcinogens TCE, Benzene, and Vinyl Chloride in their tap water. Tragically, a significant portion of the people living on base during these years suffered severe health consequences, and many have lost their lives. There is sufficient scientific evidence to associate the water contamination at Camp Lejeune to illness, and it is time for the Department of Defense (DoD) to adequately address this issue and care for those who are suffering as a result.

In a report released on May 2, 2012, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) called on DoD to develop procedures that will enable them to better identify and address potential health risks from past toxic exposures. For one, they recommended that DoD create a policy that outlines instances when it is appropriate to request a new health assessment. As was the case with the exposure at Camp Lejeune, installations often may not become aware of past exposures until long after the initial health assessment took place, and the DoD must have clear guidance as to when they should request an additional health assessment. In addition, DoD should establish concrete guidelines for determining what actions they should take to identify and address any adverse health effects from past exposures at military bases.

I am disappointed that DoD has publicly dismissed GAO's advice, which would yield enhanced care for our nation's military. Whether they are willing to admit it or not, DoD has a responsibility to care for the victims of water contamination at Camp Lejeune, and they must revise their policies to provide that care. Our military and their families have sacrificed so much for our country already, and they should not be forced to suffer more due to DoD's unwillingness to change what clearly is not working.

You may read the GAO reporthere.

Medal Presentation Ceremony

On Monday afternoon, I was proud to honor the brave service of two veterans, Robert Hooper of Granite Quarry, NC and Larry Wayne Annas of Granite Falls, NC, at a ceremony in my Winston-Salem office. You may read more about these two North Carolina veterans and the medals they so richly deservedhere.