Legislative Update from Senator Richard Burr

This week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held a markup to consider the K-12 education legislation currently being pushed by Senate Democrats, which would lead to more micromanagement of North Carolina's schools, require transfers of teachers and principals based on test scores, create a national school board that requires reporting of everything from student pregnancies to the amount of local dollars spent on school athletics and coaches, and a mandate on firing at least 35% of teachers and principals in certain schools. Instead of proposing ways to address the valid complaints we've all heard for years from teachers and parents about the problems associated with No Child Left Behind, the Democrats are doubling down on even more Washington-knows-best management of our local schools.

I do not believe that the best way to help our students and teachers succeed is to impose a one-size-fits-all, top-down approach. That is why I introduced my own legislation, the Every Child Ready for College or Career Act, that eliminates wasteful spending and moves those dollars to highly-flexible block grants to districts for teacher training, school safety, and curriculum development. It removes federally-required, complicated accountability systems, mandates on reaching proficiency, and complicated data reporting that takes school administrators hours to compile but is sent to Washington to collect dust on shelves.Click here to learn more.

Additionally, this week I spoke on the floor to stop Senator Elizabeth Warren's effort to temporarily adjust student loan rates for a small percentage of borrowers for two years. This proposal was already rejected by the Secretary of Education and President Obama and yet Senate Democrats continue to try and push the bill through Congress-they even objected to considering the President's own proposal. Meanwhile, my colleagues and I put forward a permanent solution, the Comprehensive Student Loan Protection Act, that would simplify and streamline the process, save federal taxpayers billions of dollars, and address 100 percent of student loans. Not surprisingly, Senate Democrats rejected our solution last week in favor of dragging out this fight because they feel it is politically advantageous for them. I'm tired of these Washington spectacles, and I know the American people are as well. It's time we do the work our constituents sent us here to do, put the politics aside, and come to a commonsense agreement like the one my colleagues and I have introduced.

This week I also re-introduced the Lumbee Recognition Act, a bill which would provide federal recognition to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. This tribe is long-overdue for the federal recognition it deserves and I am committed to continuing my efforts to achieve fairness and justice for the Lumbees.

I know many of you have been following the debate on S. 744, the comprehensive immigration reform bill, that is currently underway in Congress. I want to thank all of you who have been contacting my office to voice your opinions. I have many concerns with the bill as it currently stands, particularly with regard to the border security provisions, but I did not feel that was a reason to stop an open debate or voting on amendments. I understand that this is an important issue that has far reaching implications for our country, which is why I look forward to the opportunity to raise my concerns and consider my colleagues' amendments.

Finally, I know many Americans are understandably concerned with the recent media reports regarding the National Security Agency's monitoring of individuals' telecommunications activity. I want to assure all of you that, as a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I have been and will continue to conduct vigorous oversight of the Intelligence Community and do everything in my power to ensure that their efforts to keep us safe are lawful and respectful of the rights protected by the U.S. Constitution.


Richard Burr