ICYMI: Shaheen Helps Advance Key NH Priorities for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Housing and More in Government Funding Legislation
(Washington, DC) -- U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a senior member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee, applauded the bipartisan Senate passage of funding legislation that includes numerous priorities she championed that will benefit New Hampshire. The three bills passed were the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Acts; Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Acts and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Acts. As a senior appropriator, Senator Shaheen supported and helped secure a number of provisions directly impacting Granite Staters and communities nationwide, as well as key national security priorities.
“As we work to fund the government for the next fiscal year, I’m fighting to ensure New Hampshire’s priorities are ultimately signed into law,” said Senator Shaheen. “In the three bills that passed the Senate this week, I secured investments for a range of programs and projects important to Granite Staters, including modernizing the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, funding affordable housing projects, supporting rural communities and protecting veterans’ health. The Senate continues to do its part to pass these funding bills and ensure the government is adequately funded.”
In addition, Shaheen specifically worked to advance over $43.475 million in Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) awards, which if included in final legislation and approved by Congress, will be directly awarded to specified New Hampshire recipients. Shaheen successfully included more than $111 million in CDS awards for New Hampshire across all appropriations bills in last year’s final spending bill.
Summary of Shaheen Priorities Included in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2024:
Modernizing Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) Infrastructure
Senator Shaheen worked to advance the PNSY Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan, which fully funds the multi-mission dry dock project for fiscal year 2024 at $544 million. This project is integral to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard's modernization and expansion over the next several years. It aims to address the shallow water levels at PNSY and its impediment to the docking and undocking of submarines, as well as expand the Shipyard to accommodate the larger Virginia-class submarines and add a submarine berth.
Expanding Opioid Education at VA Facilities & Investing in Alternative Pain Management
Senator Shaheen worked to include $254,487,000 for Jason’s Law, which will go towards efforts to ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) follows policies to reduce the over-prescription and overuse of opioids for pain management, including by deploying non-opioid pain management methods and making available opioid receptor antagonists, including naloxone. Senator Shaheen has long worked on policies to assist veterans in recovery as veterans have been acutely affected by the opioid crisis.
In addition, Senator Shaheen successfully included language in the government funding bill encouraging the VA to expand the use of alternative treatments for pain management, such as acupuncture, in its delivery of health care services. This would also require the VA to consider integrating alternative treatment into VA medical centers and clinics. A leader in the Senate on efforts to respond to the substance use disorder epidemic, Shaheen previously introduced the Acupuncture for our Heroes Act to expand access to acupuncturist services for veterans enrolled in the VA health care system. According to a report by the Veterans Health Administration, 80 percent of VA providers identified acupuncture as one of the top three services most often requested by veterans.
Senator Shaheen succeeded in getting an amendment added to the package on the Senate floor that would require the VA to report on its use of third-party contractors for claims examinations, an increasing practice that has led to some veterans driving hundreds of miles for exams.
Combatting PFAS Exposure & Protecting First Responders from PFAS Contamination
In addition, the Committee included report language, at the request of Senator Shaheen, on PFAS and military firefighters. The language directs the VA to report on its recommended guidance for blood testing, including for military firefighters who were exposed to aqueous film forming foam (AFFF). The language also calls on the VA to establish and maintain a registry for veterans who may have been exposed to PFAS on account of exposure to AFFF.
Senator Shaheen leads efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health effects related to PFAS contamination, respond to the chemical exposure and remediate polluted sites. In the fiscal year (FY) 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee and signed into law, Senator Shaheen included numerous PFAS provisions, including the authorization of an additional $20 million to continue the PFAS health impact study that she created in the 2018 NDAA. Because of her efforts, Pease is serving as a model site for the nationwide study. In addition, Senator Shaheen added an amendment that would prohibit the DoD from purchasing PFAS laden firefighting turnout gear after October 1, 2026. This follows Shaheen-led efforts to expand blood testing and treatment for firefighters exposed to PFAS and a similar amendment she secured to ban the use of PFAS-laden firefighting foam in the FY 2021 NDAA. In December 2022, legislation Shaheen cosponsored – the Protecting Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act – was signed into law, which directs federal agencies to develop best practices, training and educational programs to reduce, limit and prevent PFAS exposure.
Senator Shaheen also included the following Congressionally Directed Spending Items:
Support for the New Hampshire National Guard
Senator Shaheen worked to include $18 million to fund three separate projects for the New Hampshire National Guard. This includes $9 million to build a new physical fitness center in Strafford that is designed to provide soldiers with the resources needed to meet and maintain the physical fitness requirements for the New Hampshire Army National Guard. The bill also includes $5 million for the New Hampshire Army National Guard Pembroke Readiness Center. Funding would be used to install a 9,450 square-foot parking canopy and solar rooftop array to provide covered parking for military vehicles as well as to significantly reduce the facility’s energy costs. $4 million is also included for the New Hampshire Air National Guard to replace out-of-code fuel storage containers to ensure safe and environmentally protective ground fueling infrastructure.
Summary of Shaheen Priorities Included in the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Acts for Fiscal Year 2024:
Combating the Youth Vaping Crisis
Senator Shaheen is a leader in the U.S. Senate on policies that combat the youth vaping crisis. The government funding bill includes a provision addressing concern over youth use of e-cigarettes and urges the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use its full authority to address the serious public health concern. The second Shaheen provision, on synthetic nicotine products, underscores concern about unauthorized e-cigarette products in the market and urges the FDA to pursue all legal authority to remove unlawfully sold nicotine products from the marketplace.
Senator Shaheen led the bipartisan, bicameral introduction of the Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act, which would require that e-cigarette manufacturers pay user fees to the FDA to help to fund more activity at the FDA to conduct stronger oversight of the e-cigarette industry and increase awareness for the danger of e-cigarettes. The FY 2023 government funding bill included report language added by Shaheen to address youth e-cigarette use and encourages National Institute on Drug Abuse to support research to develop therapies to combat pediatric nicotine addiction. Earlier this year, Shaheen joined a bipartisan group of Senators in calling on the FDA to take long-overdue action to combat the youth vaping crisis, including steps that could remove kid-friendly, addictive e-cigarettes from the market. In February, Shaheen reintroduced her bipartisan legislation that would crack down on e-cigarette companies and close a tax loophole that allows manufacturers to claim federal tax deductions for the cost of advertising for e-cigarettes and tobacco products.
Investing in Research and Development of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Cures
Senator Shaheen successfully included an amendment authored by Shaheen and cosponsored by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), that urges the FDA to prioritize research and development of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes cures, namely islet therapies. The language also urges the FDA to further engage with stakeholders on advancing transformative diabetes treatments and cures.
As co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, Shaheen and Collins have worked together to increase awareness of the threats posed by diabetes, invest in research and improve access to treatment options. Earlier this year, Shaheen and Collins introduced the Improving Safeguards for Users of Lifesaving Insulin Now (INSULIN) Act of 2023, which would comprehensively address the skyrocketing costs of insulin and remove barriers to care making it more accessible to millions of Americans. Shaheen and Collins have consistently pressed to hold insulin manufacturers, insurers and pharmacy managers accountable for the skyrocketing cost of life-saving insulin. Recently, bipartisan legislation co-led by Senator Shaheen cleared a key committee hurdle, which would reauthorize and strengthen vital Type 1 diabetes research happening at the National Institutes of Health and renew critical treatment, education and prevention programs for at-risk populations who experience Type 2 diabetes at nearly three times the national average.
Standing up for Animal Rights & Preventing Horse Slaughter
Senator Shaheen led the inclusion of a provision to continue the current prohibition of horse slaughter in the United States. Senator Shaheen is a dedicated supporter of animal rights causes.
Bringing Key Snow Monitoring System to New England
Senator Shaheen secured continued funding for the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting Program (SNOTEL), including $1 million to continue the ongoing study regarding potential Northeast expansion of this program. Senator Shaheen secured the initial $1 million for this study in FY 2023 government funding legislation. The Senator recently introduced the bipartisan the Snow Survey Northeast Expansion Act with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) to establish a SNOTEL network across the Northeast to track mountain snow accumulation and precipitation rates.
Supporting the Maple Industry
Senator Shaheen pushed to secure $7.5 million in level funding for the Acer Access and Development program, created in the 2014 Farm Bill to support the maple industry. This program is currently authorized at up to $20 million, though it has never yet been fully funded, and Senator Shaheen’s previously introduced MAPLE SYRUP Act would increase the program’s authorization to $30 million and rename the program. In March, Shaheen met with maple producers at Mac Hill Maple Farm to hear about issues facing New Hampshire’s maple industry ahead of the upcoming reauthorization of the Farm Bill. In the 2023 Farm Bill, Shaheen is advocating for federal programs that support New Hampshire maple producers as well as other agricultural producers in the state.
Preserving and Expanding Housing in Rural Communities
Senator Shaheen worked to include key provisions from her Strategy and Investment in Rural Housing Preservation Act. Shaheen’s standalone legislation would ensure that hundreds of thousands of low-income tenants in rural areas are able to maintain access to safe and affordable housing. It would protect access to affordable housing for families in rural areas that are often elderly or disabled, who are at risk of losing rental assistance through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Housing Service (RHS). The provisions secured by Shaheen in the government funding bill would largely implement her legislation and allow USDA rental assistance to continue to be offered to low-income tenants at properties with maturing mortgages. This would preserve rural rental housing options for Granite Staters and Americans across the nation.
Senator Shaheen is a leader in the Senate working to combat homelessness and help vulnerable Granite Staters. Earlier this year, she led the New Hampshire congressional delegation in announcing over $9 million in additional Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funds headed to New Hampshire, making a total of more than $300 million of ERA funds. These funds were authorized by congressional Democrats’ American Rescue Plan Act and signed into law by President Biden, which included nearly $50 billion for housing, including support for vulnerable renters and homeowners. This is in addition to the $25 billion in emergency rental assistance included in the December 2020 emergency COVID-19 relief legislation, which Shaheen helped lead as part of the “908 Coalition.”
Summary of Shaheen Priorities Included in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2024:
Investments in Transportation and Other Infrastructure
As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Shaheen historically secures robust funding for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program, which provides investments in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve national objectives. This bill provides $800 million for the RAISE grant program. Recently, the RAISE program provided $20 million to support the General Sullivan Bridge Bicycle and Pedestrian Crossing project in Rockingham and Strafford Counties. In addition to ground and water transportation, Shaheen secured funding for much-needed airport infrastructure programs. The funding will help support air traffic control towers, air service for rural communities and the Airport Improvement Program.
Supporting Affordable and Safe Housing
With housing costs on the rise in New Hampshire, Shaheen has been a longstanding supporter of affordable housing and rental assistance. The bill provides $31.7 billion for Tenant-Based (Section 8) Rental Assistance, $1.5 billion more than FY 2023. Housing Choice Vouchers are one of the most significant federal tools for housing assistance. Under the program, eligible low-income individuals and families pay 30 percent of their adjusted income for rent, and the federal government makes up the difference, up to the fair market rent. The bill also provides $1.5 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships program, which provides funding to build and rehabilitate affordable housing.
Other affordable housing programs that received funding include the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), Supportive Housing for the Elderly and Rental Assistance for Persons with Disabilities and $30 million to help those recovering from substance use disorder remain stably housed. Additionally, the bill provides $3.9 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants, which provide funding through State and local Continuums of Care to help address homelessness.
The measure also urges the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and USDA to continue their progress towards saving families money on their energy bills, specifically by requiring federally backed housing construction use the latest energy building codes. These codes are estimated to save an average of $15,000 for a single-family home and more than $5,000 on average for apartments compared to current requirements. Shaheen and former Senator Robert Portman (R-OH) urged HUD and USDA to implement these codes in December 2022, and HUD and USDA advanced that process in May 2023.