05.25.12

Message from Senator Richard Burr

Memorial Day Message

As we celebrate Memorial Day this weekend, let us remember the true meaning of the day and honor all of our nation's servicemembers who have served and sacrificed for us and for our nation - especially those who paid the ultimate price and gave their lives so we could be free.

For centuries, American citizens have taken up arms and put themselves in harm's way to serve and protect the country they hold so dear. The cost of freedom and security has been paid with the lives of these men and women, both here at home and in far-away countries across the world. It is these individuals who gave their lives for their country and their countrymen whom we honor today and whom we thank in our hearts every day. Without them and their sacrifice, the America we know today would not exist.

But it is not just the fallen servicemembers who made the sacrifice - the families they left behind paid dearly for our freedom and security, as well. We owe these families the same honor and respect we afford those who put on our nation's uniform, and we have a responsibility to provide them with the support and care they deserve and have earned.

This Memorial Day, let us take a moment to remember the heroes of all of our nation's wars, especially those who did not make it home to the country they were fighting to protect. Their sacrifice makes it possible for us to wake up each morning in a free country where our rights are protected and we enjoy personal liberties rare in many parts of the world. To those men and women who died for us, and to their families, thank you and God bless you for your service and sacrifice

Small Business Bill for Vets

On Tuesday, I, along with Senator Scott Brown, introduced the Veterans' Small Business Opportunity Act of 2012, which further assists spouses of deceased veterans who received benefits under the VA's service disabled veteran owned small business (SDVOSB) program. Under current law, when a veteran small business owner dies from causes deemed unrelated to service, the spouse immediately loses those benefits. This legislation would provide a three year transfer period for surviving spouses not covered under current law so that he or she may pass off the business to another veteran or reestablish a sustainable business model.

Our nation's disabled veterans and their families have sacrificed much for our country, and we will forever be in their debt. Military families are the backbone of our armed forces, and many of them have faced grave difficulties as their loved ones suffer from physical and emotional wounds of military service. Giving the surviving spouse of a deceased disabled veteran sufficient time to plan for the future of their family-owned business is one small way to express our gratitude.

You may read more about the billhere.

Investigation Into Reported Fraud by Veterans Service Group

On Wednesday, Senator Max Baucus and I initiated an investigation into the Disabled Veterans National Foundation (DVNF) following reports of questionable financial ties between DVNF and Quadriga Art, a marketing firm that handles its direct mail. According to tax records, DVNF raised tens of millions of dollars over a two year period, yet reports indicate very little of the money went to directly help disabled veterans.

Our nation's veterans and their family members have gone above and beyond in their service to our country, and they and their families deserve to be treated with honor and dignity, not taken advantage of by scam artists. Veterans service organizations play a vital role in providing the care and support we owe our veterans and military families, but there must be oversight to ensure that no one abuses the relationship of trust that has been established between this community and the organizations helping them.

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to talk with WPTF's Bill LuMaye about other issues important to our veterans, servicemembers, and their families including education, employment for returning servicemen and women, and the claims backlog at VA. To listen to that interview, clickhere.

CBO Report Brings More Bad News for Economy

In the news lately, you may be hearing about what economists have been calling the coming "Fiscal Cliff." Unless Congress acts, on January 1, 2013, every American will experience a perfect storm of unprecedented tax increases and significant cuts to spending across the board, on everything from defense to Medicare. Most of the pain will be felt on the revenue side of the ledger, with a whopping $500 billion in tax increases in just one year alone. Tax rates in every bracket will increase, and some credits and deductions, like the child tax credit and student loan interest deduction, will be significantly reduced or eliminated. Spending would only be reduced by $150 billion in comparison.

This week, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the economic impact of doing nothing to address this massive tax increase will be significant. In fact, if Congress fails to act before January 1, they estimate the American economy would actually shrink by 1.3% in the first half of 2013.

In this time of economic difficulty, raising taxes on American families and job creators is not an option if we want to put people back to work and put our nation back on the track to fiscal sanity. One step in the right direction would be to enact a fiscally responsible budget for the federal government, but Senate Democrats have not passed a budget in over 3 years. Also, last week, I joined other Senators in sending a letter to Majority Leader Reid urging him to allow the Senate to act quickly to prevent our economy from reaching the "fiscal cliff." His response was less than encouraging, but I remain convinced that unless action is taken soon we could do serious damage to our economy and the American people that could have devastating, long-term effects.

FDA User Fee Bill

Yesterday, the Senate passed the FDA user fee bill (S. 3187), and I was happy that it included provisions that enhance oversight at the FDA so that life-saving drugs and medical devices may reach the patients who need them as quickly as possible. The bill included an amendment that I co-sponsored along with Senator Tom Coburn to require FDA to conduct an independent management review of all of its drug review and approval processes to increase efficiency and timeliness of drug reviews at the agency. Learn more about this amendment by following thislink.

In addition to this amendment, I am pleased that language I authored with Sen. Bennet was included in the bill earlier this week that seeks to establish a framework for a uniform, national traceability system to help ensure the integrity and security of the pharmaceutical drug supply chain. To read more about that amendment,click here.