The Issues

“All Americans are worthy of the protection of the law. I will always fight for those who have been the victims of crime and injustice.”

I am proud to have supported important laws like the Violence Against Women Act, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, and the Justice for All Act, laws that protect Americans from violence and assist the victims of crimes.

As a father and now a new grandfather, I am committed to making our world a just and safe place for all people. It has inspired my fight to protect the rights and dignity of crime victims.

To quote the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, “The time is always right to do what is right.” No words better embody the spirit behind the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act, legislation I introduced with civil rights leader Representative John Lewis (D-GA).  This legislation would require the Department of Justice and the FBI to investigate unsolved, civil rights murders in order to prosecute the perpetrators and bring the truth of past injustices to light. Uncovering and confronting the truth about these crimes is essential to reinforcing for future generations that no one is above the law and that all Americans are worthy of the protection of the law.

I have also fought to enact laws that protect women and children from dangerous sexual predators, domestic violence, and the scourge of modern human slavery.

In 2015, Congress passed my bill, the Military Sex Offender Reporting Act, which closed a legal loophole that had allowed sex offenders convicted under the military justice system to evade being placed on the National Sex Offender Registry. An investigation found that this loophole had enabled hundreds of convicted sex offenders to evade registration and even allowed some to commit horrendous crimes again. But thanks to my law, this loophole has been closed, and those who commit such heinous crimes can no longer avoid the full consequences.

North Carolinians may remember the tragic story of Kilah Davenport, a young girl from Union County who was severely abused and eventually died from injuries inflicted by her stepfather. Her story was the inspiration behind my Kilah Davenport Child Protection Act, legislation aimed at better protecting children from abuse. Signed into law in 2014, this law increased federal penalties against repeat child abusers.

As a member of the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking, I have been a consistent supporter of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the comprehensive federal law aimed at ending human trafficking and helping victims both internationally and here at home. More recently, I supported the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, a law passed by Congress in 2015 to provide services to victims of human trafficking. And I am a cosponsor of the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act, a bill to help eliminate slavery and human trafficking around the globe.

“We must seek out and destroy the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations that seek to do America harm. ”

As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I oversee our nation’s intelligence agencies and I am briefed regularly on the serious threats our nation faces from radical Islamic terrorism. The threat to America is real, and the enemy we face is unlike any other that has come before it. Terrorists have no regard for the rules of war, the nuances of diplomacy, or as we have seen time and time again, the lives of innocents.

Paris, Brussels, and Orlando are sobering reminders that the Obama policy of containment has failed. If we are serious about defeating the global threat of terrorism, we must:

• Devise and execute a comprehensive strategy that clearly identifies our enemies and the resources required to eliminate the threat.

• Take the fight to where the terrorists recruit and train so that they cannot bring the war to our shores.

• Equip our law enforcement and intelligence community with the tools they need to thwart terrorist plots and keep America safe.

“I will fight for the economic security of all North Carolinians.”

Jobs and the economy must be priority one. Americans should no longer have to settle for the lackluster economy that has become the hallmark of the Obama years. We can and must reignite our economy to produce good-paying jobs.

While the unemployment rate appears low, it hides the harsh truth that many Americans are so discouraged about their job prospects that they’ve just given up looking for work. And those Americans who do have jobs are frustrated to watch their paychecks stay the same while their cost of living continues to go up.

One area of the family budget that North Carolinians are really feeling the pinch is healthcare. Under Obamacare, North Carolinians have seen their premiums and out-of-pocket costs skyrocket. This has been one more punch to the pocketbook for working families who are already struggling to get by in this economy.

We cannot afford to wait any longer. We need to turn our economy around and create jobs, and that means taking action in four important areas.

First, we must reform the federal income tax system. Our current tax system is unfair, punishes the middle class, and is overly complex for both families and employers. In order to jumpstart growth, we need to reform the federal tax code to eliminate loopholes that benefit special interests and lower the tax burden for everyone.

Second, we need to make it easier — not harder – in America to start a business and to hire and keep workers. That means reining in the excessive Obama regulatory mandates that are choking off our economy and killing jobs with higher costs and red tape.

Third, we need to ensure employers have an educated, competitive workforce from which to draw talent, and that means having better schools and career development opportunities at all levels.

And finally, we need to enforce our fair trade laws. When a country engages in an unfair trade practice — like currency manipulation or illegal dumping — and causes harm to our economy, we need to respond swiftly and directly. And before the United States agrees to enter into a trade agreement, we must first make sure that it’s a good deal for American workers, businesses, and consumers. When a trade deal is a raw deal for North Carolina, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), I will oppose it.

As we saw after the Great Depression, Americans are strong, resilient and hardworking. We need to get government out of the way so that Americans can bring jobs back from overseas and make our country the standard-bearer of free enterprise and ingenuity once again.

My Plan to Get the Economy Back on Track and Create Jobs:

  • Reform the tax code so that it’s fairer, simpler, and less burdensome for everyone.
  • Eliminate corporate handouts and special interest tax breaks.
  • Cut red tape and job-killing mandates so that businesses can grow.
  • Make it easier to start a business by reducing regulations.
  • Hold bureaucrats accountable for harassing job creators.
  • Support fair trade and punish those who refuse to play by the rules.
  • Investing in education and career training programs for a more educated workforce.
  • Make child care and college more affordable for working families.
  • Support the growth of careers, not just jobs.

“Our veterans fought for our freedoms. I will always fight for them.”

In 2014, our nation learned that brave Americans who had once survived combat on a battlefield in a foreign land were dying on American soil as they waited for much-needed health care from the VA. For those who have served, revelations of scandal and bureaucratic mistreatment of veterans throughout the VA were especially horrifying. These failures of government quickly became a national disgrace, and for good reason.

As a nation, we promised our veterans the best health care our country has to offer. For the Marines of Camp Lejeune sickened by toxic well water, for the veterans of Vietnam exposed to Agent Orange, and for the veterans still fighting the invisible war of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, I have fought to make good on that sacred promise, and I will never let up.

While serving as Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, I led a number of major efforts to address the VA health care crisis and to improve the quality of life of veterans, such as:

  • Creating the Veterans Choice Program, which enables veterans to see a doctor of their choice outside the VA if they are on a waitlist or live far from a VA facility.
  • Fighting successfully to bring 19 new, state-of-the-art VA medical facilities to communities all across North Carolina.
  • Writing and passing the Janey Ensminger Act, the law that requires the VA to provide health care to the veterans and their family members who were sickened by the toxic chemicals found in the well water of Camp Lejeune.
  • Providing additional resources to enhance VA facilities and hire more doctors and nurses.
  • Reaching across the aisle to enact bipartisan legislation that strengthened support for the caregivers of disabled veterans.
  • Starting a new dental insurance benefit for veterans and their families
  • Advocating for North Carolina veterans to receive the military awards they earned, but never received.
  • Working to enact the Clay Hunt Act to address the alarming epidemic of veteran suicide.
  • Leading the efforts in the Senate to ensure our government formally commends the service, contributions, and sacrifices of our Vietnam Veterans and Gold Star Wives.

But we’ve got much more work to do. That’s why I will continue my fight to:

  • Fix the VA health care system by urging Congress to pass my Veterans Choice Improvement Act, legislation that would cut the red tape and bureaucratic hassles, confusion and delays that still stand in the way of veterans and much-needed medical care.
  • Hold the VA’s feet to the fire so that bureaucrats can no longer deny health care and disability benefits to the Camp Lejeune veterans and their families.
  • End veteran homelessness by pressing for passage of my bipartisan Homeless Veterans Prevention Act.

“Education has been, and continues to be, a passion of mine. I’ve seen firsthand the power of education to lift our fellow citizens out of poverty and better their lives.”

The United States is the most prosperous nation in the world. It is time that we had a public education system that reflected our great country.

In my senior role on the Senate Education Committee, I helped pass the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, the law that ended the Common Core mandate and “No Child Left Behind.”

On behalf of North Carolina schools, I successfully fought for a change in the law that will result in our state receiving an additional $24 million – every year – to hire, train, and reward teachers and principals who serve low-income students. This was a major victory for our teachers and students in North Carolina.

And to help those teachers who often reach into their own wallets to help pay for supplies for their classrooms, I worked with Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) to successfully expand the federal tax deduction for teacher classroom expenses. This accomplishment, as well as my successful effort to bring more federal education dollars to schools with low-income children in North Carolina, earned applause from the National Education Association.

But I believe we need to do more to give teachers and school leaders the freedom to do what they do best: educate. Complex federal rules and other attempts to turn classrooms into assembly lines demean the teaching profession and have led to more emphasis on standardized testing in recent years. I’m fighting every day to make sure that local educators and school boards, not federal bureaucrats, are in the driver’s seat when it comes to setting education policies in our country.

“The American Dream should be within reach of all who are willing to put in the effort to earn it. I have serious solutions and a proven record on making college more affordable.”

With some of the world’s finest colleges and universities, North Carolina is a leader in higher education. Hiring our graduates is one of the many reasons employers choose to relocate to our state. I am working every day to make the dream of a college education within reach of every North Carolinian and to help graduates manage their student loans.

One such law I wrote and got signed into law is the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, historic legislation that lowered interest rates for students and their parents. This law has worked, saving America’s students over $46 billion in just the past three years. For this school year alone, the students and parents of North Carolina who take out loans to pay for college will save $1.1 billion. If you’ve taken out loans for college since 2013, you’ve saved money.

Let me give you an example. A student taking out a $10,000 loan to pay for college this year will save over $1,800 in student loan costs, thanks to my law.

But my work is not done. For example, the most effective way to reduce student loan debt is to encourage more American families to start saving early for their kids’ college education. That’s why I’ve introduced the Boost Saving for College Act, bipartisan legislation that enhances the popular 529 college savings accounts. The Boost Act would:

  • Provide a tax credit to low-income and middle-income families who might not ordinarily save for college.
  • Encourage employers to match the college savings of their employees.
  • Allow savings that aren’t needed for college to be rolled over into a retirement account.

The Boost Act would allow families to save for college and lighten reliance on student loans, and that’s why my plan has been endorsed by a broad range of higher education organizations.

We also need to make it easier for graduates to pay off their student loan debt. That’s why I joined Senator Angus King (I-ME) to introduce the Repay Act, legislation that would simplify student loan repayment options and ensure that monthly payments are manageable.

The American Dream should be within reach of all who are willing to put in the effort to earn it. That’s why I will continue my work on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who every year seek the benefits of higher education.

“I have a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare that focuses on quality, affordability and restoring the ability of Americans to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.”

Our nation has the most advanced, innovative medical care available in the world. Our challenge as a nation is not only to foster the medical innovation necessary to find that next, great medical breakthrough, but it is also to make the benefits of that medical innovation accessible and affordable to every American.

Unfortunately, Obamacare has been just another empty promise. Since the enactment of this law, Americans have experienced double-digit premium increases, skyrocketing out of pocket costs, and fewer choices of plans and doctors. And these damaging trends are expected to only get worse.

My solution to Obamacare, the Patient CARE Act, would go a long way in making quality, affordable healthcare available to every American. My blueprint would repeal Obamacare and replace it with common-sense, patient-focused reforms. Unlike Obamacare and its government mandates, my proposal empowers the American people to make the best healthcare choices for themselves and their families by:

  • Adopting common-sense consumer protections.
  • Creating a new protection to help Americans with pre-existing conditions.
  • Empowering small businesses and individuals with greater purchasing power.
  • Providing tax credits to those who do not have health care coverage through their employer.
  • Allowing Americans to buy coverage across state lines.
  • Reducing defensive medicine and reining in frivolous lawsuits through medical malpractice reforms.
  • Making healthcare pricing more transparent to empower consumers and patients.

In addition to finding ways to make healthcare more affordable, I am passionate about medical innovation. We must continue to invest in the research that will enable us to find cures and save lives. That’s why I have led the bipartisan effort in the Senate to ensure robust funding for the National Institutes of Health, so that we can find cures for diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and ALS. Thanks in part to this advocacy, in 2016, the NIH received the largest increase in its budget in six years.

Finally, I believe it is critically important to our health — and to our national security – that we take the threats posed by diseases like Ebola and Zika seriously. This concern inspired me to draft legislation called the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act.  This legislation, which is now law, ensures we have a framework in place to develop critical vaccines and treatments for life-threatening diseases, like Smallpox and Ebola, so that our nation is prepared to protect American lives in the event of an outbreak or deliberate biological attack. Now, as our nation confronts the serious threat to pregnant women and their babies from the Zika virus, I am working every day to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect American lives.

“The strength and readiness of America’s military relies on the strength and stability of our military families.”

We owe a debt of gratitude to our brave women and men in uniform and to the families who love and support them. North Carolina is fortunate to have one of the largest communities of active-duty military and veterans in the nation. As Co-Chair of the Senate Military Family Caucus, I have made it my mission to ease transitions and improve the quality of life for our military families.

My work on behalf of military families has included:

  • Sponsoring legislation to require background checks for military day care providers so that parents who are serving our country never have to worry about whether their children are in safe hands
  • Joining a bipartisan effort to pass the Military Family Stability Act, a bill that would provide flexibility to military families when their duty station changes.
  • Supporting passage of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the largest expansion of education benefits for veterans and the military since the Montgomery GI Bill, and successfully fighting to give service members the ability to transfer their unused education benefits to their children.
  • Cosponsoring legislation to repeal the unfair and unjust Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)-Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) offset, which is robbing surviving military spouses of the benefits that their loved ones earned.
  • Writing and passing the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act, the law that gave military spouses the right to choose their state of residency.
  • Fighting to protect our commissaries, an essential benefit that helps military families and veterans save money on everyday expenses.

“The United States must remain a beacon of freedom and prosperity around the world.”

As we combat terrorism, we must remain vigilant to other threats around the world. There are foreign adversaries who view the United States as a threat to their own power and ambitions. It is critical that we are prepared to defend ourselves, support and protect our allies and ensure stability around the world. As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I oversee the numerous branches of the intelligence community and have stewarded major legislation through Congress and to the President’s desk that lets intelligence officials do their jobs to keep America safe.

Iran:  The Iranian Nuclear Agreement did nothing to deter the radical Iranian regime from gaining nuclear capabilities, nor did it slow their war on Israel and the United States. This agreement only redirected funds to a corrupt and brutal government, allowing Iran to funnel money to terror organizations that have openly pledged to destroy Israel and the United States. Since the agreement was put in place, the Iranians have only defied it. That’s why I vehemently opposed the agreement from the start and continue to oppose it now.

If we are serious about preventing a nuclear Iran, the United States should reinstate sanctions against this state sponsor of terrorism. We must work with our allies in the Middle East to contain the regime, frustrate its ambitions to develop nuclear capabilities, and block it from funneling money and weapons to terror organizations.

China:  As one of the world’s largest economies, China is a significant economic competitor to the United States. Unfortunately, China refuses to play by the same rules as the rest of the world, whether it’s manipulating its currency to gain an unfair economic advantage or engaging in cyberattacks against American businesses and government.

If we want to protect America’s ability to compete and create jobs, we need to fight unfair trade practices and make clear that there are consequences for engaging in corrupt or criminal activity. I have been a leader in the effort to crack down on currency manipulation by the Chinese government, and I will continue my fight to stop this practice that is killing American jobs.

Cybersecurity: One of my top priorities is a more prosperous North Carolina for all individuals. Cyberattacks by foreign agents and identity thieves threaten not only our national security but also our economic security.

That’s why I wrote and passed bipartisan cybersecurity legislation that is helping protect the online privacy of Americans while improving our nation’s defenses against cyberattacks.

Russia: An aggressive Russia has deliberately bombed civilians in Syria, supplied weapons to Iran, staged invasions of Crimea and eastern Ukraine, and even participated in the downing of a commercial Malaysian airliner.  This aggression threatens global stability.

Curbing Russian aggression means standing with strength in opposition to their actions. No more “red lines” or empty threats. We need to stand with our allies in Europe when they face Russian aggression, and we need to hold Russia accountable when it provides weapons of war to those who threaten the United States and our allies. It is our responsibility to impose sanctions and ensure that Russia works with the international community to achieve peace.

“I’ve fought to make sure that America keeps our promises to seniors, and I will continue to do so.”

America’s seniors, and the generations before them, helped make our country the superpower that it is today. I believe seniors should be able to enjoy their retirement with the peace of mind that the benefits they earned and paid for through decades of hard work are safe and secure.

The United States Government cannot rob seniors of the benefits they earned, and while some politicize Social Security and Medicare, it is not an issue that should appear only during election seasons. For our seniors, this is a question of their livelihood and the ability to make ends meet.

I will keep up the fight to protect our retirement programs so that America’s seniors can continue to count on these benefits being there for them. My record on behalf of seniors and those nearing retirement includes:

  • Consistently voting to protect Social Security so that retiree benefits are kept intact.
  • Opposing Obamacare, the health care law that has robbed hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare to pay for other government programs and which is now threatening the ability of seniors to get the health care they need.
  • Fighting the Obama Administration’s plan for Medicare Part B that could cut off seniors’ access to lifesaving treatments for cancer and other serious medical conditions.
  • Voting to make sure that the government cannot use Social Security as a slush fund for other government programs.
  • Voting to repeal the Clinton tax increase on Social Security benefits.
  • Co-authoring the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act, the law that ensures that North Carolina seniors are getting their fair share of funding for programs like Meals on Wheels, caregiver assistance, and programs that allow seniors to stay in their homes.

“I’ve led the charge to conserve our nation’s natural treasures for future generations to experience and enjoy.”

Our state is blessed with inspiring mountains and lakes, pristine beaches, and unique wildlife. We can and should protect these treasures.

As an avid outdoorsman, I am passionate about conservation, especially in North Carolina. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is one of America’s most successful federal conservation programs, conserving irreplaceable lands and improving outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the nation. It requires no taxpayer funding. I led the charge in Congress to continue this popular program, which has contributed to some of North Carolina’s best loved monuments including Chimney Rock, Catawba Falls, and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I’ve also been fighting to save a true North Carolina treasure, the wild horses of Corolla, from extinction. Believe it or not, there are bureaucrats in Washington who believe the Corolla horses are an “invasive species” and not worthy of our protection. That’s why I am fighting to get my Corolla Wild Horse Protection Act signed into law, so that a local non-profit will be able to take steps to ensure the viability and survival of these horses for generations to come.

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