Legislative Update from Senator Richard Burr

This week, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the ABLE Act -- a piece of commonsense, bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Casey and me. Put simply, the ABLE Act would allow families with a severely disabled child the opportunity to save their own money in a 529 college savings account to help cover their child's long-term expenses. Over three-quarters of the Congress has added their names to the ABLE Act as cosponsors, including both the Majority and Minority leaders in the Senate.

If you have the time, I encourage you to watch this hearing, as it includes inspiring testimony from disabled individuals and their families, including one woman, Sara Wolff, who has Down Syndrome but who currently works two jobs. She supports the ABLE Act so that she can save for her own future. Another one of the witnesses at the hearing was a fellow North Carolinian, Robert D'Amelio. Mr. D'Amelio shared his family's story - two of his sons have Autism - and how the ABLE Act would greatly improve his sons' prospects and give him peace of mind that his boys will be cared for in the future.

You can watch the full hearing here, my opening statement here, and my question and answer session with Mr. D'Amelio here.

Senator Casey and I have been working together to perfect this bill for 8 years, and its time has come. Let's pass the ABLE Act, and let's do it now.

Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs held a hearing on Robert McDonald's nomination to be Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. During the hearing, Mr. McDonald heard what our expectations will be if he becomes VA Secretary. I shared several key expectations: that he embrace the findings of the recent investigations into the VA, urgently work to bring about needed reforms, and that he usher in a new culture throughout VA. Click here to watch my opening statement or read it here.

Mr. McDonald also had a chance to share his own hopes and his ideas of how to address the deeply systemic problems at VA. You can read his opening statement in full here.

At the end of the hearing, each member of the committee was able to question Mr. McDonald. The full line of questions and answers between Mr. McDonald and myself can be watched here.

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs unanimously voted to send the Mr. McDonald to the Senate floor for confirmation. I am pleased that Mr. McDonald's nomination moved quickly through the committee and it is my expectation he will swiftly receive Senate confirmation. His private sector experience and his apparent will to make the drastic changes needed within the Department bolsters my confidence. Much must be done and I look forward to working with him to make sure that VA lives up to its mission. The Senate will vote on his nomination next week.

Finally, I am happy to announce that I will be co-hosting both the Defense Trade Show in Fayetteville, NC on August 5, 2014 and the North Carolina Aerospace Supplier and Advanced Manufacturing (ASAM) Summit in Winston-Salem, NC on August 6-7, 2014. If you have interest joining either of these event you can find more information by clicking the links above.