Sen. Burr says he’ll seek Intelligence chairmanship

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Pelosi says she's open to stock trading ban for Congress Momentum builds to prohibit lawmakers from trading stocks 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 ChamblissFormer Georgia Sen. Max Cleland dies at 79 Effective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests Live coverage: Georgia Senate runoffs 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 FeinsteinOvernight Energy & Environment — Starting from 'scratch' on climate, spending bill Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Eight senators ask Biden to reverse course on Trump-era solar tariffs 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 IsaksonThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Schumer makes plea for voting bill, filibuster reform in rare Friday session Jan. 6 brings Democrats, Cheneys together — with GOP mostly absent 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.