05.18.15

Burr: Student Loan Interest Rates, National Police Week, Contaminated Water at Camp Lejeune

Last week, students and parents received good news: federal student loan interest rates are set to drop for the upcoming school year to 4.29 percent, down from 4.66 percent. I am thrilled students in North Carolina, and all across our nation, will see the interest rates on their student loans drop for the next year, in addition to over $8 billion in savings from the past year. When I introduced the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act two years ago, I knew this law would benefit 100% of students in the US, and with today’s news, our students and parents continue to reap the benefits. The facts now show that more controversial legislation would not have served students’ best interests. My bill was the right solution at the right time.

ICYMI: McClatchy did a story on my investigation into the U.S. Customs and Border Protection which has failed to collect millions of dollars in duties from Chinese furniture manufactures, leaving North Carolina businesses hurting. In the article, McClatchy notes: “More than half of the money, $156 million, is owed to five companies based in North Carolina or that have operations in the Tarheel state, according to estimates of CBP data by Schumer’s office.” Read the article in full here.

Last week the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the Veterans Administration held a meeting in Greensboro. The meeting focused on the ongoing effort to convince the VA to rely on the most recent and credible body of science that confirms the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was highly contaminated with known human carcinogens from the 1950s to 1987, and led to service related disabilities, particularly cancers, among veterans and their families.

It has been almost three years since the legislation I sponsored, the Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act, was signed into law. In that time, the CDC has released four studies showing that these Camp Lejeune families have a higher risk of certain cancers and a higher mortality rate.  Yet the VA continues to drag its feet and disagree with the government’s leading scientists. It's unconscionable that less than 10 percent of these sick veterans have gotten disability benefits. If the VA won't listen to the law or to scientists, what's it going to take? Check out this story from the Jacksonville Daily News for more information on the meeting.

Tuesday, I had a chance to visit with the North Carolina ALS “Catfish” Chapter and former ABC11 news anchor Larry Stogner. As you may know, Larry was recently diagnosed with this disease and announced his retirement early this year. ABC11 WTVD put together a moving piece on their day of ALS advocacy in DC, check it out below. 

Burr and Stogner Discuss ALS

Larry Stogner Takes Fight Against ALS to Washington

Last week was National Police Week and DC was been full of police officers visiting from across the nation. Back at home, communities in North Carolina held events honoring our men and women in blue. I had the privilege of meeting Lt. Alan Hedgepeth of Henderson, NC on Tuesday. Lt. Hedgepeth was honored at the 22nd Annual TOP COPS award dinner here in DC for his work on an investigation that resulted in the arrest and conviction of almost 40 “MGM” members. You can read more about this brave public servants work here

Burr and Sgt Hedgepeth

Lt. Hedgepeth, his wife, and me on the steps of the Capitol

Tuesday morning I joined The Hill for a talk on how to foster medical innovation so that Americans can have better access to new safe treatments and devices. People all over the world are counting on the United States to innovate for cures to our most debilitating illnesses. Read the write up on my talk here

Last Thursday, I joined Senator Tillis, along with Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC-01), in introducing The Road to Opportunity and Development (ROAD) Act of 2015. The ROAD Act will open up new opportunities across North Carolina and will benefit everyone who uses our state’s infrastructure. Also, connecting some of the east coast’s largest ports to North Carolina’s cities and towns will encourage economic expansion. I’m excited to see the possibilities the ROAD Act will open for all North Carolinians. Read more about the ROAD Act here.

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