Richard Burr was born in Charlottesville, Va., and resides in Winston-Salem, N.C. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1978 from Wake Forest University, where he played football.
Burr was a national sales manager for Carswell Distributing Co., which distributes lawn equipment. He also was state co-chairman of North Carolina Taxpayers United.
Burr was elected to the U.S. House in 1994, winning re-election four times. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004, filling the seat vacated by John Edwards, who was that year's Democratic vice presidential candidate.
Burr and his wife, Brooke, have two sons.
Richard Burr has backed off a bid for the position of Republican Whip after the 2012 elections. Burr said last fall he would run for the spot, but backed off because the post would not allow him the time nor flexibility to commit to legislation he's introduced.
Burr was a vocal critic of the 2010 federal health care overhaul, calling it "nothing more than a massive expansion of the federal government." After its passage in March 2010, Burr blocked a Senate Armed Services hearing because, he said, some GOP members had objections to the legislation.
Democrats accused Burr of putting his party above important military functions, pointing out that generals had traveled from around the globe for the hearing.
Burr also faced criticism after saying he encouraged his wife to repeatedly withdraw money from an ATM at the same time federal officials were scrambling to contain the financial crisis.
Burr joined Congress during the 1994 Republican sweep, moving from the House to the Senate while hammering at budget deficits and promoting conservative principles.
Burr voted for the $700 billion bank bailout in 2008, but then opposed the release of the second half of those funds in January 2009 saying he wanted to know how the first portion of the bailout had impacted the market. He also voted against the approximately $800 billion stimulus package in February 2009.
"In typical Washington fashion, we have thrown together a hastily-written bill with little public input, little debate, and very little thought about the long-term consequences of what we are passing," Burr said at the time.
Early in his congressional tenure, Burr worked to reform the Food and Drug Administration and participated in assessing the federal government's preparedness for possible computer problems associated with the year 2000.
While on the House Intelligence Committee, he voted against creation of the national commission to investigate the Sept. 11 attacks, questioning the panel's effectiveness working in a "political strained atmosphere" in Washington. He later largely praised the commission's completed work. Burr also finalized legislation designed to improve the nation's response to terror threats and other public health emergencies.
Burr, whose congressional district included the headquarters of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., also successfully pushed for a buyout of the federal tobacco quota system, a measure that passed in the closing weeks of his successful 2004 Senate campaign against Democrat Erskine Bowles.
Burr spent the first several months of 2005 largely out of the spotlight, learning the parliamentary ropes and presiding over the Senate for 135 hours.
He made news by voting in favor of the Central American Free Trade Agreement after suggesting earlier that he might vote against it. He also backed the nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.
He scored his first significant legislative victory as a senator when Congress approved a defense appropriations bill that contained liability protection for pharmaceutical companies that make vaccines. The bill also added a compensation fund for first responders who suffer complications from such medicines.
Burr criticized the administration of former President George W. Bush for its handling of Hurricane Katrina and its plan to sell nearly 300,000 acres of national forest land — including about 10,000 in North Carolina — to help pay for rural education in 41 states. He also voted in 2007 against an immigration reform bill brokered between the Bush White House and the Democratic-majority Congress.
Committee Assignments: Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Veterans' Affairs; Select Intelligence; Finance
American Conservative Union Rating: 94
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 10
Recent winning percentages for office currently held: 55% (2010), 52% (2004).
(Last updated by Allen Reed on July 30, 2012.)