03.15.13

Legislative Update from Senator Burr

While some in Washington seek to encroach on the SecondAmendment rights of law-biding Americans, I will continue to fight to ensure these rights are honored and protected. Yesterday, I introduced legislation that would end the arbitrary process through which the government strips veterans and other Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) beneficiaries of their Second Amendment rights.

This legislation would protect the rights of veterans and their families by ensuring that only a proper judicial authority is able to determine who is referred to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), a system which prevents them from being able to purchase firearms in the United States. Our veterans took an oath to uphold the Constitution and they deserve to enjoy the rights they fought so hard to protect. Click here to read more.

In January of this year, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) sent a letter to VA informing them that there is sufficient data to substantiate that water contamination at Camp Lejeune exceeded safe levels for human consumption as early as August, 1953. Because of these new developments, I introduced a bill on Wednesday that would expand the eligibility timeframe for the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012.

Current law extends health care to veterans and their family members who have certain diseases and conditions as a result of exposure to contaminated well-water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina from 1957 to the 1980s. To find out more, click here.

During Wednesday's Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, I questioned VA Undersecretary Allison Hickey about the veterans claims backlog and tasked her with providing relevant information. Hopefully this hearing will push VA to give us real answers to our questions. Click the picture above to watch a clip.

The bureaucracy of our veterans' health care system has become so bloated that our nation's veterans are suffering as a result. To address this, I introduced a bill on Wednesday that would streamline the regional administrative offices of the Veterans Health Administration so that our focus returns to getting care to our veterans. The bill would combine the current 21Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISN)into 12 VISNs to reallocate and better target funds to improve the quality and consistency of health care for our nation's war heroes. By reducing the number of administrative offices and reallocating staff and resources to our VA medical centers in the field, we can provide our nation's veterans and their families with the quality care they deserve. To learn more about this bill, click here.

I was honored to be recognized by the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Charlotte and the National Down Syndrome Society this week for my work on the ABLE Act, a bill that I introduced that will help individuals with special needs lead fuller, brighter lives. Families of individuals with special needs can face enormous costs associated with health care, education, housing and transportation. Currently, families can save for their children's education through tax-favored 529 education savings accounts, but parents of special needs children do not have access to the same federal and state tax benefits to save for their child's future expenses. The ABLE Act will make it easier for parents of special needs individuals to invest in their child's future, opening the door to a world of opportunities that might not have been available otherwise.

This week, for the first time in 92 years, the Senate began the budget process without first receiving a budget proposal from the President. Unfortunately, the Senate Democrat's budget proposal only underscores the fact that they simply don't understand that federal spending is out of control and will bankrupt our country if we don't act soon. While we should be focused on balancing the budget and reducing our national deficit, the Democrats' proposal would add $7.3 trillion to the debt over the next 10 years. Additionally, it includes up to $1.5 trillion in tax increases. As I have said before, revenue is not the problem here, spending is. We must get our spending under control and reform our nation's tax code and entitlement programs in order to have any chance of putting our economy back on the right track.