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Richard Burr

Richard Burr
United States Senator
from North Carolina
Assumed office
January 3, 2005
Serving with Kay Hagan
Preceded by John Edwards
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 5th district
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2005
Preceded by Stephen L. Neal
Succeeded by Virginia Foxx
Personal details
Born Richard Mauze Burr
(1955-11-30) November 30, 1955
Charlottesville, Virginia
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Brooke F. Burr
Children 2
Residence Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Alma mater Wake Forest University (B.A.)
Occupation Sales executive
Religion Methodist
Website .gov.senate.burrwww

Richard Mauze Burr (born November 30, 1955) is the senior United States Senator from North Carolina and has served since 2005. A member of the Republican Party, Burr previously represented North Carolina's 5th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 2005.


  • Background 1
  • House career 2
  • Senate career 3
    • Committee assignments 3.1
    • Caucus membership 3.2
  • Political positions 4
    • Fiscal/monetary/financial 4.1
    • Gun rights 4.2
    • Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal 4.3
    • Social issues 4.4
    • Iraq War and Congressional pay raise 4.5
    • Environment 4.6
    • Tobacco 4.7
    • Biodefence and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development 4.8
    • Healthcare reform 4.9
    • Uranium enrichment 4.10
    • U.S. Farm Bill 4.11
  • 2010 Senate campaign 5
  • Electoral history 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9


Burr was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, the son of Martha (née Gillum) and Rev. David Horace White Burr, a minister.[1] He graduated from Richard J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem, N.C. in 1974 and earned a B.A. from Wake Forest University in 1978.[2] Burr was on the football team at both Reynolds High School and Wake Forest. Burr lettered for the Demon Deacons during the 1974 and 1975 seasons; however, the team went winless in ACC play during his tenure.[3] He is a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.

Prior to running for Congress, Burr worked for 17 years as a sales manager for Carswell Distributing Company, a distributor of lawn equipment.[4] Burr is currently a board member of Brenner Children's Hospital, as well as of the group Idealliance - a group of local, academic, and government officials working to expand North Carolina’s Piedmont Triad Research Park.[5] Burr is also a board member of the West Point Board of Visitors.[6]

In 1984, Burr married Brooke Fauth; the couple has two sons.

Burr's father, a minister, said that Burr is a 12th cousin of Aaron Burr, the former Vice-President, Senator, lawyer, and Continental Army officer known most for defeating Founding Father Alexander Hamilton in an 1804 duel. He is the first Burr in the Senate—and only the second person with his last name to win election to Congress (the first being the presumably unrelated Albert G. Burr)—since Aaron.[7][8] Sen. Burr himself has stated that there are no longer any direct descendants of Aaron Burr, and that he descends from Aaron's brother. However, it is more likely that Senator Burr is descended from the brother of Aaron's father as biographies of Aaron Burr state that he had only an older sister, that his parents died young and they were raised by his father's brother.[9][10]

When queried, Burr states that he has tempered pride of the association: "I am [proud] ... though history has proved to shine a different light on him."[11]

Burr's car, a 1974 Volkswagen Thing, is "something of a local celebrity" on Capitol Hill.[12]

House career

In 1992, Burr ran against incumbent Democratic Representative Stephen L. Neal and lost. He ran again in 1994 after Neal chose not to seek re-election, and was elected to Congress during a landslide year for Republicans. He ran on a platform that advocated accountability for the federal government, lower health care costs, economic development, and strong school systems.[13] Burr was elected by increasingly large margins during his term in the House, especially because of growing Republican trends within his district.

Senate career

In July 2004, Burr won the Republican primary to seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat John Edwards, who launched a presidential campaign. He faced Democratic party nominee Erskine Bowles and Libertarian Tom Bailey.

Burr won the election by five percentage points. His and Bowles' combined campaign expenditures totaled over $26 million, making it one of the most expensive Senate races in the country. Burr raised more money from political action committees, $2.8 million, than any other Senate candidate in 2004, primarily from the business community.

In 2007, Burr ran for the leadership post of Republican Conference chairman[14] but lost to Sen. Lamar Alexander by a vote of 31 to 16.[15]

In 2009, Burr was named by Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Senate Republican Whip, to serve as Chief Deputy Whip in the 111th Congress.[16]

In 2011, he announced his intention to seek the post of minority whip, the number two Republican position in the Senate,[17] but he dropped out of that race in 2012.[18]

Committee assignments

Caucus membership

Political positions


Burr voted against the financial reform bill Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, which regulates credit default swaps and other derivatives (Senate vote 162 on May 20, 2010). In the June 26 debate, he stated: "I fear we're headed down a path that will be too overburdensome, too duplicative, it will raise the cost of credit ... The balance that we've got to have is more focus on the products that we didn't regulate ... more so than government playing a bigger role with a stronger hand".

In fall 2008, during that year's financial crisis, Burr described his response to problems in the U.S. financial system: "On Friday night, I called my wife and I said, 'Brooke, I am not coming home this weekend. I will call you on Monday. Tonight, I want you to go to the ATM machine, and I want you to draw out everything it will let you take. And I want you to go tomorrow, and I want you to go Sunday.' I was convinced on Friday night that if you put a plastic card in an ATM machine the last thing you were going to get was cash."[19] This statement attracted attention from the national press when an April 2009 story in the News and Observer made it more widely known.[20] In late April, Burr told WFAE, a public radio station in North Carolina, "Absolutely I'd do it [again]." He said that "The exact situation we were faced with was a freeze bank to bank. And as I stated, my attempt was to make sure my wife had enough cash at home to make it through the next week." Burr also said that "It was not an attempt to run a bank," and "Nor was it a bank that was even considered then or now to be in trouble."[21]

Burr is a signatory of the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge".[22]

In 2013, Burr criticized some of his Republican colleagues in the Senate, who were filibustering the passage of the fiscal year 2014 federal budget in an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act. In a tweet, he called their strategy "the height of hypocrisy".[23]

Gun rights

Burr supports Second Amendment gun rights and voted against the 2013 legislation which would have extended background checks to internet and gun show weapons purchases.[24] He has sponsored legislation to stop the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from adding the names of veterans to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) if the department has assigned a financial fiduciary to take care of their finances due to mental incompetence, unless a judge or magistrate deems them to be a danger. Persons added to the NICS system are barred from purchasing or owning a firearm in the United States.[25]

Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal

On December 18, 2010, Burr voted in favor of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010.[26][27][28][29][30][31] The repeal would go on to end the core aspect of official Department of Defense employment discrimination against openly gay individuals. Burr and John Ensign were the only Senators who voted against cloture but voted in support of the final passage.[32] Senator Susan Collins (R) of Maine who spearheaded the fractional Republican party support for the repeal expressed grateful surprise at Burr's joining her group in the final vote: "I think that was a gutsy vote" said Collins, "he was not someone who I thought to lobby." Burr strongly expressed his opposition to the timing of the vote, reasoning he said that the chaos of double wars warranted delay, but decided it was right to support the bill when the Senate decided to stop waiting.[33]

Social issues

Burr had previously co-sponsored and voted in favor of a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, although he now believes same-sex marriage should be left to the states.[34] He also co-sponsored a bill prohibiting the creation of human-animal hybrids.[35]

Iraq War and Congressional pay raise

In May 2007, Burr was one of 14 Senators to vote against an Iraq War funding bill despite his strong support of the war, due to his opposition to the clauses of the bill that provided for an increase in domestic spending.[36] In February 2009, he added an amendment to the proposed economic stimulus package that would end the automatic pay increases of Congress.[37] Burr wrote on his Senate blog: "As the law is currently written, Congress has to hold a vote to disapprove an automatic pay raise. As you can guess, these votes don't happen too often."[37]


Burr was one of 21 senators who voted against the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009.[38] Supporters of this measure stated that its provisions enjoyed bipartisan backing in Congress and strong local support in the areas affected,[39] and would protect millions of acres of wild land.[40][41] Opponents said that it was laden with expensive earmarks,[42] that it precluded oil and gas production on large tracts of federal land,[43] and that it would harm rural economies.[44]


Burr opposes the regulation of the tobacco industry by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).[45] During the 108th Congress, Burr proposed the National Uniformity for Food Act, which would have banned states from forcing manufacturers to include labels other than those that are required by the Food and Drug Administration on consumables and health and beauty products.[46] The Consumers Union opposed the bill, since it would have lowered safety regulations that are more stringent in certain states.[47] A similar bill passed the House, but it died in the Senate.

Biodefence and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development

Burr was the sponsor of Senate bill 1873, the Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2005, nicknamed "Bioshield Two", which he says will give the Department of Health and Human Services "additional authority and resources to partner with the private sector to rapidly develop drugs and vaccines."[48] Portions of Senate Bill 1873 were eventually included in Senate Bill 3678 (the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act),[49] which was signed into law in December 2006.

Healthcare reform

Senator Burr is a vocal opponent of President Obama's healthcare reform bill, claiming that the President's health care proposal ignored the demands of the American people and will result in a Government takeover of individual healthcare decisions, increased taxes, and rationed care.[50] Critics note that he was ranked second[51] for senators to receive contributions to their campaign committees and leadership PACs between January and September from health and accident insurers and ranked first for funding from pharmaceuticals companies.[51] Burr voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009,[52] and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[53]

In 2014, Burr sponsored the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment Act along with Senator Orrin Hatch. The bill is intended to provide an alternative health care reform system to the Affordable Care Act, according to Ripon Advance. The bill would repeal the Affordable Care Act and implement provisions related to consumer protections, pre-existing conditions, and “consumer-directed healthcare measures.”[54]

Uranium enrichment

As a representative, Burr co-sponsored, with Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) an amendment to the Energy Policy Act of 2003 relaxing restrictions on the exports of specific types of enriched uranium, first enacted in the Schumer Amendment to the Energy Policy Act of 1992. The original Schumer amendment placed increased controls on U.S. civilian exports of weapons grade highly enriched uranium (HEU) to encourage foreign users to switch to reactor grade low-enriched uranium (LEU) for isotope production. HEU is attractive to terrorists because it can be used to create a simple nuclear weapon, while LEU cannot be used directly to make nuclear weapons.[55][56]

U.S. Farm Bill

A United States farm bill amendment, introduced in 2013, would have prevented North Carolina farmers from receiving crop insurance subsidies. Burr led the effort to oppose the proposal. In his speech, he said that about 85% of North Carolina is considered rural and that funding rural development is essential.[57]

2010 Senate campaign

Burr defeated North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall (D) on November 2, 2010 with 55% of the vote. He is the first Republican since Jesse Helms to be re-elected to the United States Senate from North Carolina. He also broke the "curse" that his seat held, being the first Senator re-elected to the seat since 1968 (when Sam Ervin won his final term).

Electoral history

North Carolina's 5th congressional district: Results 1992–2002[58]
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1992 Stephen L. Neal 117,835 53% Richard Burr 102,086 46% Gary Albrecht Libertarian 3,758 2% *
1994 A. P. "Sandy" Sands 63,194 43% Richard Burr 84,741 57%
1996 Neil Grist Cashion, Jr. 74,320 35% Richard Burr 130,177 62% Barbara J. Howe Libertarian 4,193 2% Craig Berg Natural Law 1,008 <1%
1998 Mike Robinson 55,806 32% Richard Burr 119,103 68% Gene Paczelt Libertarian 1,382 1%
2000 (no candidate) Richard Burr 172,489 93% Steven Francis LeBoeuf Libertarian 13,366 7%
2002 David Crawford 58,558 30% Richard Burr 137,879 70%

*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1992, write-ins received 4 votes.

North Carolina Senator (Class III) 2004 results:[58]
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
2004 Erskine Bowles 1,632,527 47% Richard Burr 1,791,450 52% Tom Bailey Libertarian 47,743 1% *
2010 Elaine Marshall 1,145,074 43% Richard Burr 1,458,046 55% Mike Beitler Libertarian 55,682 2%
*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2004, Walker F. Rucker received 362 votes.


  1. ^ 1
  2. ^ "Richard Burr Biography". Project VoteSmart. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  3. ^ 2010 Wake Forest University Football Media Guide, p. 167.
  4. ^ "Richard M. Burr (R)". The Washington Post. 
  5. ^ U.S. Senate: Senators Home > Senator Richard Burr
  6. ^ "Richard Burr Biography". Richard Burr U.S. Senator North Carolina. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  7. ^ Durham Herald-Sun
  8. ^ Burr is former veep's 12th cousin | projects
  9. ^ "Aaron Burr Biography". Encyclopedia of World Biography. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  10. ^  
  11. ^ Miller, John J. (September 22, 2004). "A Burr duels for the Senate". National Review. Retrieved April 20, 2013. 
  12. ^ Laura Barron-Lopez (September 21, 2011). "The Thing on the Hill". CQ Roll Call. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ | Burr wants policy position
  15. ^ Alexander elected to GOP’s No. 3 spot on Nashville City Paper
  16. ^ "Burr Named Chief Deputy Whip". January 14, 2009. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  17. ^ Kondracke, Morton. "Burr Counts on His Record in Whip Race : Roll Call Politics". Retrieved September 4, 2013. 
  18. ^ Politico: Richard Burr won't seek Republican whip
  19. ^ James Shea (April 14, 2009). "Sen. Burr speaks on economy". Times-News. 
  20. ^ Beckwith, Ryan Teague. "As crisis loomed, Burr told wife: Empty ATM" News and Observer 2009-04-16. Retrieved 2010-01-07.
  21. ^ Eric Zimmermann (May 1, 2009). "Burr on bank flap: I'd do it again". The Hill. 
  22. ^ "The Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers" (PDF). Retrieved February 13, 2012. 
  23. ^ Blake, Aaron (September 27, 2013). "'"GOP Sen. Richard Burr: Cruz's filibuster strategy 'the height of hypocrisy. Washington Post. Retrieved August 16, 2014. 
  24. ^ Weisman, Jonathan (April 17, 2013). "Senate Blocks Drive for Gun Control". The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Veterans' gun rights a sticky issue in defense bill". Fox News. December 3, 2012. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  26. ^ Foley, Elise (December 18, 2010). "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Passes Senate 65-31". The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 20, 2013. 
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Snowe, Collins join majority in repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' | The Kennebec Journal, Augusta, ME". December 18, 2010. Retrieved September 4, 2013. 
  29. ^ "Eight Republicans back ‘don’t ask’ repeal - Shira Toeplitz". Politico.Com. Retrieved September 4, 2013. 
  30. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Retrieved September 4, 2013. 
  31. ^ "'"Senate Vote 281 - Repeals 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The New York Times. 
  32. ^ Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress)
  33. ^ Toeplitz, Shiera (December 18, 2010). "Eight Republicans Back Repeal". Politico. 
  34. ^ Morgan, Debra (March 27, 2013). "Q&A: Burr talks gun rights, sequester, same-sex marriage". Retrieved August 4, 2013. 
  35. ^ Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress)
  36. ^ U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote
  37. ^ a b Barrett, Barb (2009-02-06). "Burr: Congress should feel pinch too".  
  38. ^ "Voting Record: Senator Richard M. Burr (NC): Environmental Issues". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2010-01-10.
  39. ^ "The Nature Conservancy Urges Passage of Omnibus Public Lands Management Act". The Nature Conservancy. 2009-02-10. Retrieved 2010-01-10.
  40. ^ Karpinski, Gene. "Support S.22" (letter to U.S. House members). League of Conservation Voters. 2009-03-10. Retrieved 2010-01-10.
  41. ^ Slater, Dave. "Wilderness vote down to the Wire: House passage of long-awaited legislation looks uncertain". The Wilderness Society. 2009-01-29. Retrieved 2010-01-10.
  42. ^ "Dr. Coburn Calls Omnibus Lands Package a Return to Business As Usual". Tom Coburn, M.D. (U.S. Senate website). 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2010-01-10.
  43. ^ Josten, R. Bruce. "To the members of the U.S. Senate". Reproduced at Tom Coburn, M.D. (U.S. Senate website). 2009-01-09. Retrieved 2010-01-10.
  44. ^ "Oppose Omnibus Land Grab Act of 2009". Save the Trails. Retrieved 2010-01-10.
  45. ^ Craver, Richard (2008-11-10). "Burr, Hagan promise to work for N.C.".  
  46. ^ "S. 3128 [109th]: National Uniformity for Food Act of 2006". Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  47. ^ """CU opposes the "National Uniformity for Food Act. 2006-02-15. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  48. ^ — 'Pharma To Republicans — Time To Pay Up Again', Evelyn Pringle (November 24, 2005)
  49. ^ : Senate Bill S 3678 of the 109th Congress
  50. ^ "Richard Burr, United States Senator North Carolina". United States Senate. Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  51. ^ a b "Stakeholders in Health Insurance Reform Debate Gave Big to Senators - Capital Eye". OpenSecrets. Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  52. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Retrieved September 4, 2013. 
  53. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  54. ^ Martin, Aaron. "Burr, Hatch introduce alternative to Affordable Care Act", Ripon Advance. January 28, 2014. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  55. ^ Kuperman, Alan J. (October 9, 1998 [August 29, 1996]). "Civilian Highly Enriched Uranium". Nuclear Control Institute. Retrieved April 20, 2013. 
  56. ^ Kuperman, Alan J. (November 8, 2005). "Weaker U.S. Export Controls on Bomb-Grade Uranium: Causes, Consequences, and Prospects". Nuclear Control Institute. Retrieved April 20, 2013. 
  57. ^ Wooten, Larry (June 19, 2013). "NC has big stake in federal farm bill". The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC). Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  58. ^ a b "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 

Further reading

External links

  • U.S. Senator Richard Burr official Senate site
  • Burr for Senate
  • Richard Burr at DMOZ
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Stephen L. Neal
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Virginia Foxx
United States Senate
Preceded by
John Edwards
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from North Carolina
Served alongside: Elizabeth Dole, Kay Hagan, Thom Tillis
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mark Pryor
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Tom Coburn
Party political offices
Preceded by
Lauch Faircloth
Republican nominee for Senator from North Carolina (Class 3)
2004, 2010
Succeeded by
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