DEFENSE BILL INCLUDES SHAHEEN PRIORITIES SUPPORTING NEW HAMPSHIRE SERVICE MEMBERS, ECONOMY

Senate passes National Defense Authorization Act with Shaheen’s proposals strengthening Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Pease Air National Guard Base - Bipartisan legislation includes Shaheen’s Women’s Small Business Procurement Parity Act promoting women-owned small businesses

December 12, 2014

(Washington, D.C.) – The U.S. Senate today approved (89-11) the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes key national defense priorities put forward by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that will strengthen Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Pease Air National Guard Base and also encourage women’s business ownership.

The annual defense bill authorizes all Department of Defense (DOD) programs and major defense policies and includes bipartisan proposals from Shaheen that that authorize funding for the KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling tankers, the procurement of two Virginia Class submarines, modernization and upgrades to the Pease Air National Guard Base and energy conservation projects at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The legislation also incorporates Shaheen’s Women’s Small Business Procurement Parity Act, which encourages women’s business ownership and gives women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) more opportunities to win federal contracts.

“The bill we passed today is one of Congress’ most important annual responsibilities, and it authorizes the resources our military needs for a strong national defense and also makes targeted investments that will benefit New Hampshire’s economy,” Shaheen said. “New Hampshire has always played an important role in the security of the United States, and by supporting Pease and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, this bill will keep the Granite State at the forefront of our national defense.”

The NDAA incorporates several of Shaheen’s proposals from the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support. As Chair of this subcommittee, Shaheen rejected the Administration's request for another round of military base closures and supported investments in military readiness that are important to Pease Air National Guard Base and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Shaheen provisions and priorities included in the final committee version of the NDAA include:

KC-46 Aerial Refueling Tanker

The NDAA authorizes full funding for the KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling tanker program—the successor to the Air Force’s current fleet of 1950’s era KC-135s. Pease Air Force Base, home to the New Hampshire Air National Guard’s 157th Air Refueling Wing, won a competitive process against 82 other installations and four other finalists to be the first Air National Guard unit to receive the next generation tanker, beginning in fiscal year 2018. The bill also authorizes funding for infrastructure upgrades and facilities construction at Pease Air National Guard Base in preparation for Pease receiving the KC-46A air refueling tanker.

Shaheen and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) have advocated for Pease to receive the tanker since 2011. Last  year, they announced that the Air Force had designated the 157th Air Refueling Wing as the first Air National Guard unit to receive the KC-46A. 

Virginia-class Submarines

The bill authorizes the procurement of two Virginia Class submarines in FY2015 and provides advanced procurement funding for two boats in FY2016. Shaheen has consistently advocated for investments in our Navy’s submarine fleet, which remains one of the most productive and strategically important assets for the DOD. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Shaheen has touted Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s superior record of performing fast-attack submarine maintenance, modernization and repair under budget and ahead of schedule. The procurement of two Virginia class submarines will help address modernization needs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the nation’s three other public shipyards.

Women Owned Small Business Contracting

The legislation includes the Women’s Small Business Procurement Parity Act, which Shaheen introduced as standalone legislation earlier this year with Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The provision would ensure WOSBs access to tools available under other contracting programs, encouraging WOSBs and helping federal agencies meet the goal of awarding 5 percent of all federal contracts to WOSBs. Although women make up more than half of the U.S. population, only about 30 percent of businesses in the United States are owned by women. The provision included in this year’s NDAA would support additional contracting for WOSBs by giving the WOSB procurement program parity with other small business federal contracting programs.

Special Immigrant Visas

The NDAA builds on Shaheen’s bipartisan efforts to support the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program by authorizing an additional 4,000 SIV visas and instituting other reforms to the program. The SIV program provides visas to Afghans who have provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and face threats as a result. Shaheen has led a bipartisan effort with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to sustain and improve this program. This summer, Shaheen addressed a pressing shortfall in the number of visas available to deserving applicants for the Afghan SIV program. Last year, Shaheen helped prevent the Iraq program from expiring by pushing Congress to unanimously extend it.