Senate Sends NDAA with NH Priorities Secured by Shaheen to President’s DeskDecember 11, 2020
**Shaheen Supports Authorization of $160 Million for Multi-Mission Dry Dock Project at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard**
**Bill Includes 3 Percent Pay Raise for Service Members**
**Shaheen Secures Highest Funding Level Ever for PFAS Health Impact Study & Successfully Adds Provision to Address Health Concerns Related to PFAS Exposure through Firefighter Gear**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement after the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year (FY) 2021. The annual legislation authorizes national defense objectives for the fiscal year. Now that both chambers of Congress have cleared the legislation, it will be sent to the President’s desk.
Some of the New Hampshire and national defense priorities supported by Shaheen include:
- Authorization of 15 KC-46 Pegasus refueling tankers - aircraft that are replacing the Air Force’s aerial refueling fleet of KC-135s at the New Hampshire Air National Guard base at Pease, which will be a main operating base;
- Authorization of $160 million for the Multi-Mission Dry Dock project at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard;
- Procurement of two Virginia-class submarines – which are maintained and repaired at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard;
- Establishment of a demonstration project and study to improve scheduling flexibility for firefighters in Navy Region Mid-Atlantic;
- 3 percent pay raise for service members; and
- Authorization of an additional $15 million to continue the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) health impact study Senator Shaheen established in the 2018 NDAA.
“The overwhelming bipartisan support for this legislation is a clear indication of how important the priorities it contains are for our national security and the American people,” said Shaheen. “This defense bill will provide a pay raise for our troops, deliver crucial health benefits for veterans suffering from illnesses tied to their exposure to Agent Orange, invest in New Hampshire’s role in support of our national defense and so much more. The National Defense Authorization Act is one of the most important responsibilities Congress must deliver every year and I’m glad to see Democrats and Republicans once again work together to see this through. I urge the President to sign it into law.”
NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIORITIES SECURED OR SUPPORTED BY SHAHEEN IN THE FY 2021 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT INCLUDE:
Military Readiness Priorities for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard:
Senator Shaheen supported the authorization of $160 million for the Multi-Mission Dry Dock project at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Last year, Shaheen announced with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) that a $158 million contract was awarded to a New England company to construct a superflood basin and extend portal crane rails for Dry Dock #1 at the Shipyard. The superflood basin, similar to a navigational lock, will enable Los Angeles-class and Virginia-class submarines to dock without the use of buoyancy assist tanks. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Shaheen helped secure this funding in the fiscal year 2019 funding legislation.
In this year’s NDAA, Shaheen worked to authorize the procurement of two new Virginia-class submarines, which are repaired and maintained at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Senator Shaheen has long been a steadfast supporter of the Virginia-class program, and a fierce advocate for Shipyard priorities. Also, due in part to Senator Shaheen’s successful opposition, the defense bill does not include a new round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), which could endanger national security and potentially damage New Hampshire’s economy by threatening jobs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Scheduling Flexibility for Shipyard Firefighters:
Senator Shaheen successfully included her measure to help improve flexibility in Shipyard firefighters’ work schedules. Shaheen’s measure establishes a demonstration project to study an alternative firefighter work schedule in the Navy’s mid-Atlantic region. Currently, firefighters at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard work 24 hours on and 24 hours off and would prefer a 48 hour shift followed by 48 hours off, which is consistent with most fire fighter stations throughout the Department of Defense (DOD).
Investments at Pease Air National Guard Base:
Senator Shaheen fought to procure 15 KC-46 Pegasus refueling tankers. 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-46 main operating base, an economic benefit to Pease and the surrounding community. The KC-46 replaces 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 last KC-135 departed Pease last year to make way for the KC-46.
Pay Increase for Service Members:
Shaheen supported a 3 percent pay increase for service members.
Continued Investments in Shaheen’s PFAS Health Impact Study:
Senator Shaheen has spearheaded efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health effects related to PFAS contamination, respond to the chemical exposure and remediate polluted sites.
Senator Shaheen was successful in including several PFAS provisions in this year’s NDAA. Shaheen successfully boosted funding to $15 million to continue the PFAS health impact study that she established in the FY18 NDAA – a record high level of funding. Shaheen also included a provision based on her bipartisan standalone legislation to take important steps to address health concerns regarding firefighters’ occupational exposure to harmful PFAS chemicals through their personal protective equipment. She also added a requirement in the bill for the DOD to explore PFAS destruction technology.
Last year, Senator Shaheen successfully included a provision in the 2020 NDAA that will phase out the use of PFAS in DOD firefighting foams and prohibit its use in the military after October 1, 2024. That provision also requires the military to publish a new firefighting foam military specification by January 1, 2023 and ensure it is available for use by October 1, 2023. She also included her legislation with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) that would require the DOD to include blood testing for PFAS as part of routine physicals for military firefighters.
Provides Benefits for Veterans Suffering from Agent Orange:
Shaheen supported an amendment offered by Senator Tester (D-MT) that would require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide benefits for veterans suffering from four diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange. The amendment is based on standalone legislation authored by Senator Tester, of which Senator Shaheen is an original cosponsor.
Support for Military Spouse Occupational Licensing:
Building on her efforts from last year, Senator Shaheen worked to authorize an additional $2.75 million in funding to support her bipartisan legislation with Senator Cotton (R-AR) that became law to improve the transferability of occupational licenses from state to state for military spouses, and also helps alleviate the burden spouses endure if they’re small business owners from having to constantly re-register their businesses.
ADDITIONAL SHAHEEN DEFENSE PRIORITIES INCLUDED IN FY 2021 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT:
- Authorization of the Ukraine Security Initiative through December, 31, 2024 and authorization of up to $250 million to be used to provide security assistance to Ukraine;
- Measures to bolster the U.S. National Defense Strategy to maintain a competitive edge over China by requiring DOD to develop strategies to improve domestic supply chains;
- Provisions to prioritize the shipbuilding industrial base, invest in training and provide recommendations to Congress to better stabilize the shipbuilding industrial base workforce;
- Authorization of $3 million to fund the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery; and
- Inclusion of expanded language for implementation of Shaheen’s legislation to bolster women’s leadership in peace negotiations and conflict resolution.
Authorizes Extension of Ukraine Security Initiative to Preserve Ukraine Sovereignty, Counter Russian Aggression:
Senator Shaheen, also a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Ukraine Caucus, supported a provision in the NDAA that extends the Ukraine Security Initiative through December 31, 2024, and authorizes the use of up to $250 million in FY 2021 to provide security assistance to Ukraine. Senator Shaheen has been a tireless advocate for Ukraine sovereignty and its defense against an adversarial Russia.
Bolsters U.S. Policies & Investments to Counter China:
Senator Shaheen supported a provision to bolster the U.S. National Defense Strategy to maintain a competitive edge over China. This would establish and authorize $2.2 billion for a Pacific Deterrence Initiative to ensure the effective implementation of the National Defense Strategy with respect to the Indo-Pacific region. Shaheen also supported the inclusion of a requirement for the DOD to move its printed circuit board (PCB) supply chains out of China and back to the United States or other trusted nations.
Strengthens the Shipbuilding Industrial Base:
Senator Shaheen, co-chair of the Senate Navy Caucus, supported an effort to establish a working group between the Navy and the Department of Labor to stabilize the shipbuilding industrial workforce to address challenges associated with the shipbuilding industrial base. Additionally, the NDAA includes $20 million for submarine workforce development training. The bill also includes $130 million in advanced procurement to stabilize the submarine industrial base.
Implementation of Shaheen Legislation to Bolster Women’s Leadership in Peace Negotiations & Conflict Resolution:
In 2017, Senator Shaheen’s bipartisan legislation with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), the Women, Peace and Security Act, was signed into law, requiring the U.S. Government to strengthen the meaningful participation of women in conflict prevention and peace negotiations—for the first time. In the NDAA, Shaheen secured language to incorporate women, peace and security initiatives at the Department of Defense, such as incorporating military doctrine and hiring full-time gender advisors, who amongst other duties, work with partner forces to better integrate women throughout their force structures. The bill requires the Department of Defense to use these resources in the most beneficial way possible. Shaheen’s amendment will require the Pentagon to account for its practices and programs that both promote the inclusion of gender within departmental decision-making, and advance women’s inclusion in conflict prevention and peace processes.
Expands Sanctions Against Russia’s Nord Stream 2:
Building on her bipartisan bill included in last year’s NDAA that mandated targeted sanctions on vessels involved in installing Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Senator Shaheen added a provision that further clarifies those sanctions, targeting companies working with the Russian vessels sent to complete the pipeline. The Senator’s previous bipartisan effort led to a freeze in the construction of the pipeline, which, if completed, would increase the Kremlin’s leverage and ability to sow discord in Europe and damage the Ukrainian economy by impeding its ability to collect gas transit fees.
Expands Long-term, Emergency Care for All U.S. Government Employees and Dependents Injured While Serving in China & Cuba:
Shaheen added language to expand long-term, emergency care benefits she secured in government funding legislation signed into law last year to all U.S. Government employees and their dependents who were mysteriously injured while working in China and Cuba. Shaheen’s measure to amend the law follows her letter with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) in May, calling on the administration to interpret the law as intended by Congress. Senator Rubio partnered with her on this effort. The New York Times and GQ recently reported that mysterious injuries experienced by federal employees and their families while serving in China and Cuba are the result of an attack -- conclusions bolstered by a report authored by the National Academy of Sciences and commissioned by the State Department. The Washington Post Editorial Board also voiced its support for Shaheen’s efforts.
Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities:
Senator Shaheen added a bipartisan amendment with Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) that would authorize the Small Business Administration (SBA) to declare a disaster in a rural area if any home, small business, private non-profit or small agricultural cooperative located in such area has incurred significant damage. This amendment is based on standalone legislation Senator Shaheen introduced with Senator Risch earlier this year.
Authorizes $3 Million to Fund the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery:
The NDAA authorizes $3 million of much-needed funding to support the Women in Military Service for America Memorial located at Arlington National Cemetery. The funding will support operations and ongoing maintenance at the memorial while a Memorandum of Agreement is negotiated with the U.S. Army, who recently received the land as part of a transfer with the National Park Service.
Senator Shaheen has worked tirelessly to honor U.S. servicemen and women lost in the line of duty. Shaheen successfully led bipartisan efforts in Congress to establish a memorial for the men lost aboard the USS Thresher at Arlington National Cemetery, where she gave the keynote address at its dedication last year. Shaheen was honored by the USS Thresher Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Foundation for her advocacy on behalf of the memorial. Shaheen has also kept up the fight to add the names of the “Lost 74” of the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
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