Eject > Political > Current Activity in the U.S. Congress – 7 Legislative Items Senator Richard Burr Co-Sponsored or Sponsored in the 116th Congress

Current Activity in the U.S. Congress – 7 Legislative Items Senator Richard Burr Co-Sponsored or Sponsored in the 116th Congress

In January of 2019, several news outlets reported that “FCC records…found the NRA appears to have coordinated political advertising with three major Senate races in the past two years. If true, the actions would amount to a violation of federal campaign finance laws, which prohibit groups from sharing election information with candidates.”

According to the reports, their lobbying group, “National Media Research, Planning and Placement, covertly going by the name of Red Eagle Media—was employed in 2018 by Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley and Matt Rosendale of Montana, who lost his race. North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr (Republican) also used the firm in 2016.”

The problem with the three campaigns and the NRA’s interaction is understandable: Red Eagle purchased many ad spots in each of the campaigns, usually on a single affiliate network. Each of the purchases was approved by the CFO for National Media Research, John Ferrell, who also signed off on ads for both the NRA and the official campaign. As one report noted, “the same pattern played out in North Carolina, where Burr took down Democrat Deborah Ross, with Ferrell signing off on ads on behalf of both the NRA and Burr’s campaign. (You will be shocked to find out that Burr ranks No. 1 on the list of senators who have taken the most money from the NRA.)”

Coordinating political advertising directly with the campaigns is illegal according to FEC rules. A report from Mother Jones indicated that these are “apparent violation of laws designed to prevent independent groups from synchronizing their efforts with political campaigns.”

Later in the piece, they explained that “Campaign finance laws bar outside groups from sharing any election-related information—including advertising strategy—with the candidates they support. While it is not illegal for independent groups and campaigns to use the same vendors, the Federal Election Commission requires consultants to prevent staffers from sharing information, usually through the creation of internal ‘firewalls.’”

And while this alone seems a bit unfavorable in terms of Senator Burr’s reputation and his handling of campaign finance, it gets worse. According to another January 2019 report, this time from The Trace, Senator Burr, was one of the two Senate committee leaders tasked with investigating “Russian efforts to influence American politics through the National Rifle Association.”

Unfortunately, both senators have “long received campaign support and donations from the gun group and its leaders.” While Senate Democrats proceeded with the investigation, in the belief that the organization’s influence in the Senate would not protect it from scrutiny in the Russian investigation, it is an ugly truth that should not be ignored.

As that same article noted, the “NRA is so enmeshed in GOP politics that, in theory, any investigation led by a Republican legislator could be vulnerable to allegations of conflict of interest. But Burr is particularly tight with the NRA, which has spent more than $7 million in support of his campaigns over the years.” It is that sort of pressure or conflict of interests that we intend to scrutinize in this article.

After all, most voters are becoming more conscious of the presence of what is known as “dark money,” which is basically untraceable money poured into campaigns. Yet, even the known donations and support can create influence. This scenario only worsened in 2010 with the Supreme Court case known as the Citizens United ruling, in which the Court held that “the free speech clause of the first amendment prohibits the government from restricting corporations from making political expenditures.”

This has enabled PACs (Political Action Committees) and SuperPACS to accept enormous sums at unprecedented rates.

PACs and SuperPACs differ in only a few ways. PACs can give to parties or candidates, while SuperPACs can only spend (unlimited amounts) on marketing and ads. They are unlimited in the amounts they can accept, as well. Both groups can allow donors anonymity because both are non-profit. They can keep their donors’ names entirely private thanks to recent changes in IRS rules allowing this to occur, even though many have been seeking to overturn it ever since.

As the Center for Responsive Politics reported in 2018, the Senate had voted to “prevent ‘dark money’ from getting even darker.” Primarily, the Senate had managed to narrowly approve a resolution designed to toss out the new “Treasury Department policy that no longer requires some 501(c) tax-exempt nonprofits — including politically active 501(c)(4) ‘dark money’ groups — to disclose donor names and addresses in tax returns submitted to the IRS.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin argued in favor of the rule, saying it prevented any confidential information from being leaked by the IRS. He noted a single case in which this had occurred, when “the IRS posted unredacted tax forms revealing donors to the Republican Governors Association Public Policy Committee.”

The rules, however, remain in place, further adding to concerns about influence over elections and individual politicians. Prior to the change in IRS rules, all names and addresses of donors were reported to the IRS, and it was the responsibility of the IRS to maintain confidentiality.

Campaign finance watchdogs have expressed concerns about this, noting that “spending of this kind (in which groups did not reveal their donors) climbed rapidly from five million dollars in the year 2006 to more than three hundred million dollars in 2012.”

Clearly, these are not funds from average voters or even typical big donors. These are funds coming from the “mega-rich,” whom many fear have become “effectively in control of American politics, writing six- and seven-figure checks to super PAC’s to support ad campaigns that confuse viewers and distort the views and records of candidates,” as one source said.

Most experts agree that these groups rarely make notable or obvious maneuvers, such as interfering directly with policy or doing blatant amounts of lobbying (though it is not unheard of), but instead use influence for “subtle things that are less top of mind, less likely to be in the news — some amendment tucked into a larger bill…[and] greater access for friendly lobbyists.”

In the case of Senator Burr, it would not be all that difficult to compare his voting and legislative actions on behalf of gun laws against monies from groups like the NRA to see if there is influence. Yet, we won’t leap to any conclusions about this matter. Instead, we will look at several key items to determine if there are any questionable links between his backers and his work in the Senate. We’ll look at:

  • The Senator’s publicly stated priorities and issues
  • Senator Burr’s committee and caucus activities
  • The Senator’s key sources of campaign funding
  • Senator Burr’s most recent legislative items sponsored or co-sponsored

We are also going to examine other facts, including bipartisanship ratings, conservative rankings, and more, to reach conclusions.

For example, Senator Burr ranked towards the very top of the Lugar Center Bipartisanship Index, holding 16th place. What this tells us is that he often creates legislation that has support from Democrats, and that he supports around the same number of their legislative items they offer, in turn.

His Trump Score” from FiveThirtyEightv for the 116th Congress is down from the previous Congress, and hovers at 89%, meaning that he supports President Trump’s policies, but not all of the time, or as much as expected. The Conservative Review, however, deeply disapproves of him, and gave him among the lowest numeric Liberty Scores of 39% and a letter grade of “F.”

His approval ratings in the Senate are very low, with a rank of 93 out of 100 senators and a net approval of only 38 from his party.

That is a lot of conflicting information, which means we have to dig into more details to start to understand just what motivates Senator Burr and whether it is his constituents or his financial backs.

About Senator John Burr

Born in 1955 in Virginia, his family relocated to North Carolina, where Mr. Burr graduated high school. He then went on toe Wake Forest University to obtain a BA in communications and then went to work in sales for almost 20 years before seeking any public office.

His first attempt at a seat in the U.S. House resulted in a loss, but his second effort got him a seat. In 2004, he ran for the Senate seat for his state and won, and has retaken his seat in every succeeding election, making him the state’s senior senator. However, in 2016’s campaign he indicated that should he win he would not seek re-election in 2022. Does this mean he may be without any influences? Not at all, and so we’ll continue with our evaluation to determine if there are signs or signals of his leaning towards any of his backers’ interests.

At his official website, the Senator indicates that he is “vocal advocate for our men and women in the military and their families, and for the growing population of veterans across North Carolina.” However, he also identifies a brief list of issues he believes are priorities for the people of North Carolina, including:

  • Jobs and Opportunity
  • Education and Child Care
  • National Security
  • Veterans and Military Families
  • Fiscal Responsibility
  • Health Care
  • Fighting Crime and Protecting Victims
  • Government Accountability
  • Conservation

ProPublica monitors politicians for how they vote, the most common subjects of bills they sponsor and even what issues are the most common in their press releases. They have identified that Senator Burr focuses on the following items in his legislation:

  • Armed Forces and National Security
  • Public Lands and Natural Resources
  • Congress
  • International Affairs
  • Government Operations and Politics

They have also kept tabs on press releases from his office, and policy priorities, which include:

  • Armed Forces and National Security
  • Science, Technology, Communications
  • Emergency Management
  • Government Operations and Politics
  • Health

Clearly, his stated policies and his actual policy pursuits don’t have full alignment. However, that is not necessarily indicative of anything problematic.

Senator Burr’s Committee Work

For the 116th Congress, Senator Burr is assigned to the following committees and subcommittees:

  • Committee on Finance
    • Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure
    • Subcommittee on Health Care
    • Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight
  • Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
    • Subcommittee on Children and Families
    • Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety
    • Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security
  • Select Committee on Intelligence (Chairman)
  • Special Committee on Aging

Now we begin to see areas of overlap between his priorities and his committee work; making it time to look at his backers before moving on to his legislative work.

The Top Industries Funding Senator Burr Campaign Efforts

In 2016, Senator Burr’s campaign raised $12,904,555.00and spent $10,069,504.00, leaving the campaign with cash on hand. His support came from an array of industries, and we’ll look at those contributors in three distinct groupings:

  • The industries in which the Senator was a “favorite,” or top recipient in the last campaign cycle (2016)
  • The industries that contributed the most substantial amount of financial support
  • Individual organizations that donated the most

According to the Open Secrets Website, Senator Burr was an industry favorite in a long list of industries and segments, including:

  • Pharm/Health Prod (#1)
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing (#1)
  • Tobacco (#1)
  • Electric Utilities (#2)
  • Farm bureaus (#2)
  • Medical Devices & Supplies (#2)
  • For-profit Education (#3)
  • Health Services (#3)
  • Steel Production (#3)

He was also had strong support from other industries, and the 20 sectors that gave the most, overall, in 2016 were (in ranking order):

  • Retired
  • Securities & Investment
  • Lawyers/Law Firms
  • Insurance
  • Pharmaceuticals/Health Products
  • Leadership PACs
  • Real Estate
  • Health Professionals
  • Lobbyists
  • Oil & Gas
  • Miscellaneous Finance
  • Electric Utilities
  • Miscellaneous Manufacturing & Distributing
  • Commercial Banks
  • Health Services/HMOs
  • Tobacco
  • Retail Sales
  • Hospitals/Nursing Homes
  • Automotive
  • Business Services

Finally, there were the companies and other groups that gave, individually. However, none of them donated directly to the campaign; instead, they worked with PACs or had direct employee contributions for the 2016 election, and were:

  • MetLife Inc – “The holding corporation for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MLIC), better known as MetLife, and its affiliates. MetLife is among the largest global providers of insurance, annuities, and employee benefit programs, with 90 million customers in over 60 countries.”
  • SCANA Corp – A “regulated electric and natural gas public utility. The company was based in Cayce, South Carolina, a suburb of Columbia, South Carolina. The company operated 4 hydroelectric plants, 1 pumped-storage hydroelectricity plant, 4 coal fossil fuel power station, the Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station, 1 combined cycle power plant, 1 “re-powered” formerly coal-fired plant with a natural gas-powered steam unit and two combined cycle units, and 16 simple cycle combustion turbines. The total output was over 5,800 MW.”
  • Reynolds American – “An American tobacco company which is a subsidiary of British American Tobacco and is the second-largest tobacco company in the United States. Its holdings include R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, American Snuff Company (formerly Conwood Company), Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, and Niconovum AB. Reynolds American’s subsidiaries manufacture and market a variety of tobacco products, including cigarettes (Newport, Camel, Pall Mall, Kent, Doral, Misty, Capri, and Natural American Spirit brands) and moist snuff (Grizzly and Kodiak brands).”
  • RJ Reynolds Tobacco – “Based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and founded by R. J. Reynolds in 1875, is the second-largest tobacco company in the U.S. (behind Altria). RJR is a wholly owned subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc., which, in turn, is owned by British American Tobacco of the United Kingdom.”
  • Altria Group – “an American corporation and one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of tobacco, cigarettes and related products. It operates worldwide and is headquartered in Henrico County, Virginia, just outside the city of Richmond.Altria is the parent company of Philip Morris USA, John Middleton, Inc., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, Inc., Philip Morris Capital Corporation, and Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.”
  • General Electric – “An American multinational conglomerate incorporated in New York City and headquartered in Boston. As of 2018, the company operates through the following segments: aviation, healthcare, power, renewable energy, digital industry, additive manufacturing, venture capital and finance, lighting, and oil and gas.”
  • Womble Bond Dickinson – A “transatlantic law firm formed in 2017 by a combination between UK-based Bond Dickinson LLP and US-based Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP. The combination followed a strategic alliance announcement made in 2016. The firm has 27 locations across the United States and United Kingdom offering services in 12 sectors.”
  • Northrop Grumman – “An American global aerospace and defense technology company. With over 85,000 employees and an annual revenue in excess of $30 billion, it is one of the world’s largest weapons manufacturers and military technology providers.”
  • Live Oak Bank – “Direct bank headquartered in Wilmington, North Carolina. It is a subsidiary of Live Oak Bancshares, Inc., a bank holding company. The bank specializes in originating business loans that are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to companies in 16 specific industries.”
  • Prudential Financial – “An American Fortune Global 500 and Fortune 500 company whose subsidiaries provide insurance, investment management, and other financial products and services to both retail and institutional customers throughout the United States and in over 40 other countries. Prudential Financial is the largest insurance company in the United States.”

With a mixture of in-state and outside support, it seems like the Senator might not feel pressures in one segment, but he does have a great deal of support from the tobacco industry, insurance, and utilities. These are all areas to consider when reviewing some of the legislation Senator Burr has sponsored in the current Congress (and his final as a Senator).

7 Legislative Items Senator Burr Has Sponsored During the 116th Congress – To Date

For the 116th Congress, to date, Senator Burr has 105 pieces of legislation; he sponsored 32 thus far and co-sponsored the remaining 73. The Senator’s official Congressional page indicates that his emphasis in this Congress has been primarily on Armed Forces and National Security, Congress, Public Lands and Natural Resources, Education, and Families.

S.302 —A bill to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund

Reintroduced on January 31, this bipartisan bill was written with the intention of permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which had lapsed in 2018.

According to a statement from Senator Burr, “The Land and Water Conservation Fund may cost taxpayers nothing, but Congress’ failure to renew it would cost us all dearly. Without this program, every state in the country would lose out on valuable outdoor recreation projects, beautiful natural landscapes, and easy access to state and national parks. It’s been four months since LWCF was allowed to expire despite its proven track record of success and overwhelming bipartisan support. It is long past time for Congress do the right thing by renewing America’s most successful conservation program.”

In that statement, it was reported that:

  • “LWCF was last extended in 2015 for only three years after the program’s authorization lapsed, and amidst public outcry, bringing us to the most recent expiration on September 30, 2018.
  • LWCF requires zero taxpayer dollars, instead utilizing royalties earned from offshore oil and gas revenues. Through several grant programs, the fund helps clean up wildlife areas, procure easements to improve access for Americans, takes care of historic parks and battlefields, and much more. Since its inception in 1964, LWCF has preserved and maintained recreational areas in all 50 states and nearly every congressional district.
  • The outdoor economy generates roughly $900 billion in annual economic activity and supports 7.6 million jobs, all of which is benefitted by LWCF.”

In another press release about it, the bill’s background and progress was outlined:

  • “Permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund has long been a priority for Senator Burr, who has championed the program over the last decade. LWCF has a proven track record of success, contributing to more than 42,000 recreation projects since its founding in 1964. It operates at no cost to taxpayers, instead utilizing royalties earned from offshore oil and gas revenues.
  • Despite strong bipartisan support in the Senate, Congress allowed LWCF to expire on September 30, 2018. In January 2019, Senator Burr led a bipartisan coalition to reintroduce legislation that would permanently reauthorize LWCF.
  • On February 12, the Senate passed S. 47, which included permanent reauthorization for LWCF.”

In the Senate, it was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

S.938 —Intercountry Adoption Information Act of 2019

Reintroduced on March 28, this bipartisan item would “would provide updated, quality information to Americans trying to adopt children from other countries,” according to a press release from Senator Burr’s office.

When speaking of the bill, the Senator said that “Far too often, American families trying to adopt a child abroad face difficulties navigating the intercountry adoption process. That is why I am proud to reintroduce this bill, which will bring to light the detrimental barriers that thwart adoptions and require the State Department to share the ways they are working to remove these barriers.  I hope the Senate will quickly pass this commonsense legislation so we can better equip families with the tools needed to welcome a child into their home.”

At this time, the “Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA) of 2000, requires the U.S. State Department to provide an annual report on intercountry adoptions. The report includes information on topics such as the number of intercountry adoptions, countries of origin for those adopted, and information on adoption agencies.

The Intercountry Adoption Information Act would amend the IAA to require the State Department to provide additional information on the following:

  • Countries that have enacted policies to prevent or prohibit adoptions to the United States;
  • Actions taken by the State Department which have prevented adoptions to the United States;
  • The ways in which the State Department has worked to encourage resuming adoptions in both cases.

This information is critical for American families looking to adopt from countries that have established barriers to adoption, such as Russia or Ethiopia, or areas where the State Department has suspended intercountry adoption, such as abandoned children in Nepal.”

There is similar legislation before the House, and in the Senate it was read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

S.980 —Homeless Veterans Prevention Act of 2019

Another bipartisan item, this bill was reintroduced on April 2, and aims at building “on existing homeless veterans programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by investing in established programs that are proven to be effective and removing any residual barriers to housing for veterans.” As Senator Burr said when first introducing the bill in 2017, “Veteran homelessness is a heartbreaking issue. We are making progress in combating veterans’ homelessness, and over the last 2 years, we have seen the number of homeless veterans decrease to around 40,000, but that is still far too many, and I will continue to address this problem until the number is zero. In particular, many women have been unable to fully participate in existing programs because their children were not allowed to live in the transitional housing. The Homeless Veterans Prevention Act bill addresses this shortcoming and increases the availability of housing for homeless veterans.”

If passed into law it would include the following provisions:

  • “Keeps veteran families together by allowing the VA to house the children of homeless veterans in transitional housing programs.
  • Requires the VA to enter into partnerships with public and private entities to provide legal services for homeless veterans and veterans at risk of becoming homeless.
  • Provides VA with the authority to provide dental care to homeless veterans.
  • Extends and increases the amount of money available for supportive services to very low-income veteran families in permanent housing.”

With 13 cosponsors, the bill was read twice and passed to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where hearings were held on May 22.

S.1015 —Supporting Accurate Views of Emergency Services Act of 2019

Still further bipartisan legislation, this item was introduced on April 3, with 22 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle. If enacted, it would “update the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) to better reflect the life-saving work 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers perform each day,” according to Senator Burr’s office.

Explaining the need for the law, Senator Burr said, “From dispatching first responders to using advanced technology to retrieve locations, the work 9-1-1 operators do is essential during emergencies.As the co-chair of the Congressional Next Generation 9-1-1 Caucus, I’m honored to introduce this bipartisan legislation with my colleague, Senator Klobuchar, to better recognize the specialized training and critical responsibilities of these professionals.”

Senator Klobuchar also spoke at length before Congress, saying, “No matter where you are, if you dial 9-1-1, dispatchers are there to connect you to first responders. This legislation makes important updates to the classification of 9-1-1 dispatchers to better capture the complex and technical nature of their occupations while also providing valuable statistical tools for federal agencies. I’m proud to work with Senator Burr to properly highlight dispatchers’ roles as safety leaders during times of crisis and the work they do to keep our communities safe.”

The SOC is currently a major “used by federal agencies to classify the workforce into useful, occupational categories. Currently, the SOC system categorizes 9-1-1 call takers and dispatchers as ‘Office and Administrative Support Occupations,’ which also includes secretaries, office clerks, and taxi cab dispatchers. The 9-1-1 SAVES Act would instead recognize these dispatchers as ‘Protective Service Occupations,’ which includes lifeguards, firefighters, TSA baggage screeners, among others…[if passed] the Office of Management and Budget [would] update this categorization to capture the complex and technical nature of these professionals.”

The bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

S.1408 —Child Care Protection Improvement Act of 2019

Introduced on May 19, this is yet further bipartisan legislation sponsored by the Senator. This bill would “create a task force to assist states in the process of implementing background check requirements for child care workers,” according to a news release about it.

According to the article, when “the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program was reauthorized in 2014, Senator Burr championed the inclusion of criminal background check requirements for child care workers hired by providers who receive federal funding under the CCDBG program. Currently, the CCDBG program is the primary source of federal funding for child care assistance.

While 35 states qualified for a waiver to implement the background check requirements through September 2019, only two states are in full compliance. The remaining states were either placed on corrective action plans or issued penalty notices. States are required to be in full compliance with the background check requirements by September 30, 2020. Various state laws have created challenges in implementing the requirements, leading to delayed hiring of child care workers, wasted financial resources, and continued child safety risks.

This legislation will better equip states with ways to address these challenges by creating a task force to identify the problems, develop recommendations and best practices, and provide technical assistance to Federal and State agencies as they continue to implement these requirements.”

Although this statement outlines the risks of not implementing such rules, Senator Burr went on to explain the importance of the bill, saying, “Protecting our children’s safety has always been, and will always be, a top priority for me. This commonsense legislation will help states meet the standards for implementing these practical requirements in a timely manner to give working parents a peace of mind and better safeguard our children.”

One of the bill’s key cosponsors, Senator Christopher Van Hollen of Maryland said, “far too many states have been slow to implement the criminal background check requirements, including interstate checks, that are already in place under the law. We need to change that. This bipartisan legislation will help states make the improvements necessary to ensure a high-quality childcare workforce and a safe environment for every child.”

The bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

S.1563 —Janey Ensminger Act of 2019

This bill was reintroduced on May 21, and is yet another bipartisan measure sponsored by Senator Burr. This bill would “ensure individuals with diseases scientifically linked to toxic chemical exposure at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina receive proper medical care from the Veterans Administration (VA).” Named for the daughter of “Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger, who was born at Camp Lejeune and died as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals,” it is backed by five other Senators.

Speaking of the need for the legislation, Senator Burr said that it is “unconscionable that the VA continues to deny and delay medical care to families suffering as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals at Camp Lejeune. Providing these veterans and their affected family members with the medical care they both need and have earned should not be up for debate. The Janey Ensminger Act makes sure the cause of reported diseases continues to be determined by scientific data, not bureaucratic red tape.”

Senator Burr can speak confidently because, according to a press release about the bill, the “Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ASTDR) has determined a number of cancers and other diseases found in individuals who lived at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina between 1953 and 1987 are scientifically linked to exposure to contaminated well-water. The VA is required to provide health care to veterans and their family members suffering from health problems as a result of this toxic chemical exposure, but the agency continues to challenge certain findings, often delaying or denying care.

The Janey Ensminger Act of 2019 requires ASTDR to review every three years the relationships between specific illnesses or conditions reported and time spent at Camp Lejeune, and to determine to what extent they may have been caused by toxic chemical exposure. It also requires ASTDR to publish the classifications on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website.”

The bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

S.1589 — Damon Paul Nelson and Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2018, 2019, and 2020

Lastly, this bipartisan bill was introduced on May 22 with bipartisan support from Democratic Senator Mark Warner. The focus of the legislation (which passed on June 11) is to authorize funding and enable “comprehensive, Congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community. This legislation is named for two dedicated staff members on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, Damon Nelson and Matt Pollard, who passed away last year.

Specifically, the bill improves the Intelligence Community’s ability to defend the United States by:

  • Deterring aggression from Russia and other foreign actors by increasing the United States’ capability of detecting malign activities, such as active measure campaigns, illicit financial transactions, and other intelligence activities.
  • Securing our elections from foreign meddling by requiring strategic assessments of Russian cyber threats and influence campaigns, and facilitating increased information sharing between local, state, and federal government officials.
  • Enhancing the security clearance process by requiring a plan to reduce the backlog, increase efficiencies, create an interagency information sharing program for positions of trust, and ensure compliance with uniform clearance eligibility procedures within the federal government.
  • Protecting the U.S. Government technology supply chain by creating a task force within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and improving the procurement process to defend against intrusion and sabotage.
  • Bolstering the recruitment and retention of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professionals by enhancing career path flexibility and benefits for cybersecurity experts working within the Intelligence Community.
  • Improving the Intelligence Community Inspector General’s oversight by establishing an effective appeals panel process and enabling consistency among Intelligence Community agencies’ processes and procedures.
  • Advancing the Intelligence Community workforce by requiring 12 weeks of paid parental leave for civilian IC personnel, and by establishing a Public-Private Talent Exchange to foster professional experiences and growth.”

Speaking of the legislation’s passage, Senator Burr said, “Today’s passage of the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) marks a significant investment in the men and women of our Intelligence Community and the work they do to keep our nation safe. The IAA was approved unanimously by the Senate Intelligence Committee last month, and I am glad to see it included in this year’s bipartisan defense bill. This legislation is critical for advancing the IC’s mission of deterring foreign adversaries, strengthening our election security, protecting our technology supply chains, and building a capable workforce. It strikes the right balance between giving our intelligence agencies the resources they need to operate effectively, while keeping them accountable to American taxpayers. I look forward to the IAA’s passage in the House.”

In Conclusion

There are no obvious signs of any undue influence upon Senator Burr, and though he has some questionable connections to large donors, he has no legislative activities that would be of specific benefit to the industries showing the greatest support. It is clear he has the needs of his constituents as his chief motivators, and nothing else.