Burr: K-12 Education, Student Loans, and Highway Improvements

This week, my efforts in the Senate were focused on education as the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee worked on legislation to update the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). I was pleased to rectify an inequity that has plagued North Carolina’s low income students for several years.

During the week, I was able to fix federal education funding that for the last 15 years has not only shortchanged North Carolina’s teachers and schools, but also the low-income students they serve across our state.  Because Congress didn’t have the courage to fix this problem in 2001, funding that was intended to support low-income students and their teachers has gone to more affluent parts of the country, leaving North Carolina’s poorest children without the money they deserve.  For North Carolina this means we will have at least $23.5 million more every year – an increase of 47% - that otherwise would have gone to wealthier parts of our country.  After years of pretending to steer limited federal dollars to our poorest children, we are now actually getting that funding into the communities that need it most. My amendment was approved on a vote of 12 to 10 and the legislation passed by a vote of 22-0.

Watch my comments in the mark-up here or by clicking below. 

This week the Senate continued the budget process by debating and voting on various provisions that will be included in the budget agreement with the House. One such provision ismy student loan amendment, based on the Repay Act. It received an unanimous vote of 97-0 to include it in the budget agreement. This is the second time my amendment with Senator King has passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. Americans are tired of seeing their hard-earned tax dollars go to waste in a student loan program that doesn’t adequately serve the interests of those students it is intended to help. The Repay Act is a common-sense step forward to address the deficiencies in our student loan programs.

On Tuesday, the Air Force released their mandatory “Report on C-130 Force Structure” to Congress. Their report was a complete disappointment, outlining the Air Force’s plan to shutter the 440th Airlift Wing at Fort Bragg. Closing one of the country’s unique training and support elements for our airborne forces and special operators would be a terrible strategic decision. I will continue to work with the North Carolina delegation and my colleagues in Congress to find a solution that preserves the readiness of our critical airborne, rapid deployment capability.

On Thursday, I was proud to introduce The Military Corridor Transportation Improvement Act of 2015 with Senator Tillis (R-NC) and Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC-01). This bipartisan bill amends the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 to ensure that the US-70 Corridor in North Carolina would become part of the Interstate system once it is fully upgraded to interstate standards.

This legislation will make it possible to refurbish and expand the highway system in North Carolina by identifying these highways as high priority corridors. Improvements to this infrastructure is critically important to local communities and will make this high transit corridor safer, faster and more modern, ensuring that North Carolina’s economy continues to be one of the most vibrant in the country. I welcome this needed legislation and know that North Carolinians do as well. To read more about this legislation, click here.

As you may know, Congress was in a state work period for the past two weeks, which allowed me to spend time visiting different parts of North Carolina. I traveled to Wake, Guilford, Forsyth, Craven, Onslow, Pitt, Wilson, Rowan, Kannapolis, Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Ashe, and Watauga counties, giving me an opportunity to visit countless businesses, join citizen groups meetings, and speak to many North Carolinians about issues important to them. You can view some of the pictures taken during my travels here. You can also check out my Facebook and Twitter, which I update whether I’m in the state or in DC -- just follow or like my account to see these updates as they happen.