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David P. Cleary

Senior Policy Advisor

David is one of Washington’s most widely respected policy and political strategists, having spent 25 years in key positions within the US Senate, US House of Representatives and US Department of Education. Prior to joining DLA Piper, he served as principal advisor to former Senator Richard Burr and as Chief of Staff to former Senator Lamar Alexander. He was the longest serving Republican Staff Director on the United States Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, holding this position for nearly a decade. 

David’s skillset spans education, health, labor and pensions, appropriations, and complex politics and processes in Washington. He played vital roles in helping pass recent laws updating the No Child Left Behind Act; addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, fighting the opioid crisis and spurring medical innovation via the 21st Century CURES Act.

David was integral to developing health care law and policies during his tenure working with the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, including the PREVENT Pandemics Act in 2022, which strengthened preparedness and response capabilities following the COVID-19 pandemic. David led legislative and oversight efforts such as the reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) in 2018, which provided the foundation for the COVID-19 response. He was also a leading voice in the major bipartisan COVID relief bills passed by Congress in 2020 to address the global pandemic. 

David also guided work on critical opioid legislation, led negotiations for mental health bills and oversaw efforts to end surprise medical bills for patients in the No Surprises Act of 2020. He played a key role in efforts to advance numerous public health bills ranging from supporting efforts to increase the number of health care professionals to advancing research for preventing and treating childhood cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and emerging public health threats, like Zika virus and Ebola.

Prior to joining the Senate, David worked on the House Education and Workforce Committee on disability policy and was the lead drafter of the Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act of 2004. David started his career at the US Department of Education working on elementary and secondary education and special education issues.

*David Cleary is not a lawyer

  • M.A., The George Washington University
  • B.A., The George Washington University