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NC GOP fund raiser in DC victim of federal shutdown

Chalk up another casualty of the federal government shutdown, reports The Charlotte Observer's Jim Morrill. And this one will cost the North Carolina Republican Party.

The state party had scheduled an Oct. 9 fundraiser at The Capitol Hill Club, with guests paying up to $2,500. The event was to be headlined by GOP Sen. Richard Burr, the state's nine Republican House members and Gov. Pat McCrory.

Republican national Chairman Reince Priebus was expected to put in an appearance.

But Friday, with the shutdown in its fourth day and no end in sight, GOP leaders decided to postpone the event.

NC Senators told students dropping out of college for lack of money

Presidents and chancellors of most of North Carolina’s 11 historically black colleges and universities said in a meeting in Washington with Sen. Kay Hagan Tuesday morning that their schools are in danger of losing students because so many of the young people have run out of money.

Chancellor Donald Reaves of Winston-Salem State University told Hagan that the school lost about a 750 students this year. Of those more than 600 were academically eligible. Two hundred of those who left were seniors. But they were short of funds — by an average of $2,700, Reaves said.

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr will join Obama for dinner tonight

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr is expected to join a small group of Senate Republicans who will be having dinner with President Barack Obama Wednesday night.

The move appears to be part of Obama’s efforts to reach out more to Republicans.

The Associated Press reports Obama raised the idea of a dinner during a phone call with Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina earlier this week. Obama asked Graham to put together the guest list.

Other attendees include Sens. John McCain, Kelly Ayotte, Pat Toomey, Bob Corker, Ron Johnson, Saxby Chambliss, Tom Coburn, John Hoeven, Dan Coats, and Mike Johanns.

Hagan gets new role on HELP Committee

Sen. Kay Hagan has a new leadership role on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

She'll be the chair of the subcommittee on children and families.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the committee chairman, announced the new subcommittee assignments today.

Sen. Richard Burr, who's also a member of the HELP Committee, will be the Republican leader (ranking member) of the Primary Health and Aging subcommittee.

Burr makes waterboarding joke at Brennan hearing

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr got a laugh from Senate colleagues with a waterboarding comment during Thursday's confirmation hearings for John Brennan, the president's choice to run the CIA.

"I will be brief because I notice you are on your fourth glass of water and I do not want to be accused of waterboarding you," Burr said, as he began questioning Brennan.

From the video clip, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and chair of the Senate intelligence committee appeared to think the remark quite witty, though it wasn't clear if she was the senator who responded with "That's a good one."

Brennan, by the way, does not seem to think water boarding is a joke. Asked about it during the hearing, he called the practice "reprehensible."

Burr remains ranking member on Veterans Affair Committee

Senate Republican Committee assignments came out today, and there are no surprises for U.S. Sen. Richard Burr of Winston-Salem.

He’ll remain the ranking member on the Veterans Affairs Committee. There, he has worked on pushing the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve bureaucratic coordination for veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and he’s worked to hold the military and VA accountable for assisting veterans affected by historic water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

Burr will be working with a new Democratic chairman though; U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington replaces Hawaii U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.

Burr is the No. 2 Republican on the powerful Energy and Natural Resources Committee, right behind U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. There had been brief Capitol Hill chatter last fall that the GOP would oust Murkowski from the role and install Burr after she ran for re-election on a write-in ballot. But that faded, and Murkowski kept her position.

Burr also continues on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, a panel with sweeping powers that will be involved in No Child Left Behind reauthorization and in GOP efforts to repeal last year’s health care law.

He also will remain on the Senate Committee on Intelligence.

Senators urge restraint in regulating brick kiln emissions

Both of North Carolina's U.S. Senators are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ease up on the nation's brick and clay industry as the EPA sets pollution limits for brick kiln emissions.

Sens. Kay Hagan and Richard Burr say North Carolina could bear the brunt of the new regulations, as the Tar Heel state has more brick manufacturers than any other state, representing some 1,300 employees.

The two elected officials are part of a 15-member Senate coalition concerned that EPA regulation could cause economic harm to an industry that's already struggling in the wake of the real-estate meltdown. The group on Monday wrote to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Jacob Lew, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, saying the Senators are seeking to strike a balance between protecting jobs and protecting public health.


Senate passes food safety bill co-sponsored by Burr

U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan both voted to pass a landmark food safety bill in the Senate this morning.

The bill is the largest overhaul of food safety regulations in more than 70 years, and both North Carolina senators made the news in the months-long debate over the legislation, called the FDA Food Safety Enhancement Act, or S510.

Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican, is a co-sponsor of the bill. Hagan, a Greensboro Democrat, co-sponsored the Tester-Hagan amendment that exempts small farms from federal oversight.

Beitler cries foul on debate lineup

Libertarian Michael Beitler said he was disappointed that he would not be included in the two U.S. Senate debates being sponsored by the N.C. Association of Broadcasters.

“If you are on the ballot, you should be included in the debate,” Beitler said. “ By excluding qualified candidates, the media is denying voters the ability to make an informed choice.”

The broadcasters said they were limiting the debates to Republican Sen. Richard Burr and his Democratic Challenger Elaine Marshall, reports Rob Christensen. The televised debates will be held Oct. 11 and Oct. 21 at the UNC-TV studios in the Research Triangle Park. The broadcasters said Beitler did not meet the threshold of support in the polls.

Beitler will participate in a televised debate hosted by NBC-17 on Oct. 13

Beitler meanwhile, announced that anti-war activist Adam Kokesh will be the keynote speaker at what he is calling his election season kickoff on Friday at the Greensboro Airport Marriott. Kokesh, an Iraq War veteran, is a grass roots activist and politician who ran in a GOP congressional primary in Texas earlier this year.

Burr 54, Marshall 38

Republican Sen.  Richard Burr has increased his lead over his Democratic challenger Elaine Marshall to 16 points, according to a new statewide poll.

The latest Rasmussen Reports survey shows Burr with the support of 54 percent of likely voters, with Marshall backed by 38 percent of likely voters and 1 percent favoring some other candidate. Seven percent were undecided.

Last month, the Rasmussen Reports poll showed Burr leading Marshall by a 49-40 margin, reports Rob Christensen.

Rasmussen has shown Burr with a lead for most of the year except for shortly after the June Democratic primary, when Marshall's victory gave her a temporary bump, allowing her to pull even with Burr.

The survey of 500 likely voters was conducted on Sept. 8 by Pulse Opinion Research with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Burr's first TV ad had been airing a week when the poll was taken, while Marshall has yet to begin her advertising.

If there is any good news in the poll for Marshall – and there doesn't seem to be much – it is that her supporters seem more committed to voting for her.

The poll also found that 57 percent of North Carolina voters favor repeal of the new national health care law, while 35 percent oppose repeal. Burr opposed passage of the health care bill and favors its repeal, while Marshall was a supporter of the health care overhaul.

Seventy-one percent of North Carolina voters say the country is still in a recession and say the economy is the top issue.

Forty-four percent approve of the job that Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue is doing, while 54 percent disapprove.

UPDATE: The Marshall campaign dismissed the poll results.

"This is a right-leaning pollster, and an outlier poll at that," said Sam Swartz, Marshall's spokesman.

"After 16 years in Washington, public polling has consistently shown that North Carolina voters don't like the job Senator Burr's doing, and that Elaine Marshall is within striking distance."

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