Burr: Intel Chairmanship, Paris, and Higher Education

Message From Senator Burr

This week is the beginning of the 114th Congress with a new Republican majority and a new North Carolina Senator sworn in. On Tuesday, Senator Tillis became the junior Senator from our state and I greatly look forward to working with him in the coming years.

I also have officially taken over as the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. As you may know, I've spent the better part of two decades overseeing the work of our nation's intelligence community as it has worked to keep us, and our allies, safe at home and abroad. I am honored to assume this role and all of its responsibilities. Under my leadership the Committee will conduct vigorous oversight over the intelligence activities of our government -- it is my job to ask the tough and probing questions and I intend to do just that.

This week the world was shocked when Charlie Hebdo, a satire magazine in Paris, France, was viciously attacked by terrorists, killing 12 individuals. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families affected by this attack.  Throughout our shared histories, the citizens of France and of the United States have consistently stood side by side to confront threats to our nations.  We will continue to stand beside them as they confront this challenge. 

Since then, I have joined Wolf Blitzer, Bret Baier, and others to discuss the actions of these terrorists and the international implications. I will be joining Wolf Blitzer again tonight, Friday, January 9th during the 5pm hour and George Stephanopoulos on Sunday morning, January 11th.

On Wednesday, Senator King and I reintroduced our legislation to reform federal student loan repayment programs. The Repay Act, which Senator King and I originally introduced last Congress, would simplify the complex maze of federal student loan repayment programs by consolidating many of the benefits of current repayment programs into two plans: a fixed repayment plan, based on a 10-year period, and a single, simplified income-driven repayment option.  Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have joined us this Congress as cosponsors.

North Carolinians are tired of seeing their hard-earned tax dollars go to waste in a student loan program that serves neither their interests nor those of the college students it is intended to help. That is why Senator King and I are reintroducing the Repay Act. The Repay Act has two very simple goals: First, students should be presented with clear options on how to repay their student loan debts affordably and in a straightforward manner.  Second, taxpayers should no longer subsidize the excessive borrowing and loan forgiveness that Washington has allowed to take place over the past few years.  Although more can be done to address the deficiencies in our student loan programs, the Repay Act is a responsible step in the right direction toward better fiscal management of our loan programs that allows students to make well-informed decisions about borrowing for college.

To read more about the Repay Act, click here, and to see the full legislative text, click here.

On the same day, I joined Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN.), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Johnny Isakson (R-GA.), and Angus King (I- ME) in introducing the FAST Act, a bill that would simplify the financial aid process.

The bill would reduce to a single postcard -- called the "Student Aid Short Form" -- the questions 20 million Americans must answer to apply for federal financial aid each year and inform high school students in their junior year of the amount they'll receive in federal aid to help pay for college. It would also address the problem of some students borrowing too much money, and simplify the options students have to repay their federal loans.  The act also streamlines federal grant and loan programs to better serve more students more effectively.

The FAST Act dramatically simplifies the process for answering the two biggest questions students face when going to school: which college can I afford and how much assistance can I expect from the federal government?  I am proud to lend my support to this legislation, which will make the process for filling out the FAFSA form a snap.