Senator Richard Burr, from North Carolina, expects to be named Lamar Alexander’s successor as the Senate’s top Republican on the education committee, a source familiar with the senator’s thinking said Friday. A press release from Patty Murray of Washington, the Democratic chair of the committee, on Friday also referred to Burr as the incoming ranking member, or the head of the minority party on the panel.
Burr does not have much of a record on higher education issues, said lobbyists and advocates, who said he will likely not have as great an interest in those issues as Alexander, a former president of the University of Tennessee who retired from the Senate earlier this year.
A spokeswoman for Burr said she had no immediate comment on his priorities for higher education.
As Inside Higher Ed reported in November, Burr, according to research done by Third Way, has sponsored only two higher education bills in recent years. In 2019, he and Tammy Baldwin, a Democratic senator from Wisconsin, co-sponsored a bill aimed at scammers who obtain Education Department data to robocall student loan borrowers, falsely promising to eliminate their student debt. The bill would have made it a federal crime to access Education Department databases in order to commit fraud or gain commercial advantage or private financial gain.
Burr in 2019 also co-sponsored a bill with conservative Republican senator Ted Cruz, of Texas, which would have created tax write-offs for making cash contributions to scholarship-granting and workforce training organizations.
When the National Collegiate Athletic Association decided last October to allow college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness, Burr, who played football at Wake Forest University in the 1970s, wrote in a post on Twitter that he planned to propose a bill to make the athletes pay taxes on the value of their scholarships.
“If college athletes are going to make money off their likenesses while in school, their scholarships should be treated like income,” Burr wrote.