Sen. Burr says he’ll seek Intelligence chairmanship

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrFISA 'reform': Groundhog Day edition Justice Department closing stock investigations into Loeffler, Inhofe, Feinstein The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump taking malaria drug; mayor eyes DC reopening MORE on Thursday said he will seek the chairmanship of the Senate Intelligence Committee in the next Congress.

“It’s my plan right now to pursue the Intel chairmanship,” Burr (R-N.C.) told The Hill.

Sen. Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissGOP lobbyist tapped for White House legislative affairs The Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks Hoekstra emerges as favorite for top intelligence post MORE (Ga.) is currently the top Republican on the Intelligence panel, but is retiring from Congress.

Burr is next in line after Chambliss, but could have sought the chairmanship of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, where he now serves as ranking Republican.

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The chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee is prized among lawmakers, because it provides a powerful oversight role with access to some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets. The post is now held by Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Major space launch today; Trump feuds with Twitter Justice Department closing stock investigations into Loeffler, Inhofe, Feinstein Let's support and ensure the safety of workers risking so much for us MORE (D-Calif.), who will cede the gavel when Republicans assume the majority in January.

Burr said he made his decision following the near-unanimous passage of multibillion-dollar legislation to overhaul the Veterans Affairs Department in the wake of a scandal over patient wait times.

“Staying on Veterans as chair, how could I ever surpass that?” Burr asked, describing the legislation as the biggest VA reform bill in 30 years.

Burr noted that the rollout of the law began last week when veteran “choice cards” started going out to around 300,000 vets who live more than 40 miles form a VA healthcare facility.

Another 370,000 cards will be sent out next week to veterans who have waited longer than 30 days to see a doctor.

Burr said the law also succeeded in putting the VA “under the public spotlight right now.”

“If they screw up, the public will be outraged,” he said.

Burr's decision means the gavel of the VA panel will likely fall to Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonJustice Department closing stock investigations into Loeffler, Inhofe, Feinstein Loeffler runs ad tying Doug Collins to Pelosi, Sanders, Biden The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip MORE (R-Ga.).

“I have all the confidence in the world he can monitor the additional rollout and the reforms that are needed,” Burr said.