Shaheen Priorities Included in Committee-Approved Defense BillJune 28, 2017
**In major win for NH, bill includes Shaheen amendment that directs the Department of Defense to fund a national health study on PFOA and other emerging contaminants found in drinking water systems, such as the contamination around Haven Well at the Pease International Tradeport**
**Shaheen’s amendment to invest in rural small businesses by expanding the Small Business Administration Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program included in legislation**
**Shaheen provisions bolster the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Pease Air National Guard Base**
**Legislation includes Shaheen amendment to ensure all non-active servicemembers and their dependents have contraception coverage with no cost-share**
**Shaheen secures 4,000 additional visas for the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program**
(Washington, DC) – This afternoon, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), critical legislation to authorize funding for U.S. national security priorities. Included in the bill are provisions championed by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a member of the committee, including:
- Shaheen’s bipartisan amendment that would direct the Department of Defense to fund a nationwide health study on implications of perfluorinated chemicals, such as PFOA, in drinking water. This amendment comes on the heels of the Air Force’s recent announcement that it would not fund a health study of water contamination around Haven Well at the Pease International Tradeport;
- Funding to continue the development of the KC-46A aircraft, which is scheduled to be based at Pease Air National Guard Base;
- Shaheen’s amendment to expand the ability of small businesses in rural areas to participate in the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program, which helps small businesses sell to the federal government;
- Shaheen’s amendment to ensure that all non-active servicemembers and their dependents have contraception coverage with no cost-share, bringing TRICARE in line with standard civilian birth control coverage;
- An additional 4,000 visas for the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program, secured and championed by Senator Shaheen.
Shaheen was part of a bipartisan coalition that defeated efforts to include another Base Realignment and Closing (BRAC) round in the legislation, which could have threatened jobs at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Senator Shaheen helped remove provisions of the bill that would have been harmful to workers’ rights, including attacks on prevailing wage laws and official time for federal workers.
“The bill that advanced today by the Senate Armed Services Committee bolsters New Hampshire’s role in the defense of our nation,” said Shaheen. “This legislation makes important investments that will strengthen our national security by supporting the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the deployment of the KC-46A at Pease Air National Guard Base. Importantly, the bill does not include ill-advised Base Realignment and Closing proceedings, which would hurt the Seacoast economy.”
“Notably, this bill includes my bipartisan amendment that authorizes the Department of Defense to fund a health study on the PFOA contaminant, which has impacted the drinking water sources of military bases across the country. Communities in New Hampshire have been fighting tirelessly for answers about the risks from exposure to perfluorinated chemicals in drinking water. The federal government needs to be a better partner to these communities and that’s why I worked across the aisle to amend this defense bill to authorize the first nationwide health study on the effect of these potentially harmful materials. The health implications of these chemicals is deeply concerning to New Hampshire families and they need to be able to trust that their drinking water is safe. Going forward, I’ll work to ensure that this national study pays particular attention to the health impacts on Seacoast residents.”
“The women who serve in our military, and the dependents of our servicemembers, deserve the same level of healthcare coverage and care as the civilians they fight to protect. I’m glad this legislation includes my amendment to ensure all non-active servicemembers and their dependents have birth control coverage without cost sharing. Access to basic preventive health care like contraception is critical to promote both military readiness and quality of life.”
“Our nation owes a great debt to the civilians who have provided essential assistance to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, and I am very pleased that this legislation authorizes the necessary visas for these brave men and women. Make no mistake, the Special Immigrant Visa program saves the lives of Afghan interpreters and support staff who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Americans in the field, putting themselves and their families at risk to help our soldiers and diplomats accomplish their mission and return home safely. I hope that the agreement reached today signals that Congress can begin authorizing additional visas without controversy and foot-dragging. Our nation made a promise to these Afghans and it’s critical that Congress keeps that promise."
SHAHEEN PRIORITIES INCLUDED IN THE FY2018 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT:
Health Study on PFOA, Emerging Contaminants in Drinking Water
The bill includes Senator Shaheen’s bipartisan amendment that would grant the Department of Defense authorization to fund a nationwide health study on implications of perfluorinated chemicals, such as PFOA, in drinking water. This amendment comes on the heels of the Air Force’s recent announcement that it would not fund a health study of water contamination around Haven Well at Pease. The national study would be conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Shaheen has also introduced the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, bipartisan legislation that will help expedite the analysis of contaminants, such as PFOA, and provide resources to states dealing with the health challenges posed by these potentially harmful materials.
Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program
This bill includes Senator Shaheen’s legislation, the Invest in Rural Small Business Act, which she introduced to expand a key small business program in rural New Hampshire and across the country. The U.S. government is the world’s largest buyer of goods and services, but small businesses often have difficulty accessing the federal marketplace. Senator Shaheen’s legislation increases the ability of rural small businesses to qualify for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program. The current one-size-fits-all formula for determining a HUBZone leaves many otherwise eligible communities outside the program. The law requires 3 percent of contracts be awarded annually to HUBZone firms, but in 2016, only 1.67 percent of federal contracting dollars were awarded to these businesses. Shaheen’s Invest in Rural Small Business Act expands the pool of HUBZone eligible communities and enhances the program’s ability to be a targeted economic development tool.
Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program
Senator Shaheen secured the authorization of 4,000 visas for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program for Afghan interpreters and support staff to be included in this legislation. Senator Shaheen has championed the Afghan SIV program, which allows Afghans who have supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and face threats as a result of their service to apply for refuge in the United States. Earlier this year, Shaheen played a critical role in securing additional Afghan visas to avert a lapse in the program.
Pease Air National Guard Base
With Senator Shaheen’s strong support, the bill authorizes the funding necessary for the Air Force to continue development of the KC-46A Aerial Refueling Tanker program. Thanks to strong advocacy by Senator Shaheen and the New Hampshire National Guard, Pease was selected as the Air Force’s first Air National Guard KC-46A main operating base, an economic benefit to Pease and the surrounding community. The KC-46A will replace the Air Force’s 1950’s-era aerial refueling fleet of KC-135s and will serve as the backbone of American air operations for decades to come.
The bill authorizes procurement of two new Virginia-class submarines in Fiscal Year 2018 and funds advanced procurement to mitigate an attack submarine shortfall projected for some time after 2020. Senator Shaheen has long been a stalwart supporter of the Virginia-class.
Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Not Included
Based in part on Senator Shaheen’s successful opposition, the bill does not include a new round of Base Realignment and Closing (BRAC), which could endanger national security and potentially damage New Hampshire’s economy by threatening jobs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. According to nonpartisan experts, the 2005 BRAC round exceeded initial cost estimates by $14 billion.
F-35 Joint Strike Fighters
Senator Shaheen successfully advocated for the bill to include 24 additional F-35s above the President’s budget request for procurement of fighter jets to address future threats and mitigate a shortfall across all three military services. Ramping up production of F-35s in particular will drive down unit cost and more quickly fulfill the requirements of our military and our allies.
Contraception for Non-Active Servicemembers and Dependents
Senator Shaheen successfully included an amendment to ensure that all non-active servicemen and women, and their dependents, in addition to active duty servicemembers who already have this coverage, have equal access to contraception without cost sharing. For military servicewomen, contraception is critical to ensuring military readiness, for family planning, and as treatment for various health conditions.
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