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Senators work together to reject BRAC round, address Haven Well contamination

(WASHINGTON, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Chair and member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, respectively, worked together to include New Hampshire priorities in the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act during the subcommittee’s consideration of the bill on Tuesday. The bill is now being considered by the full Senate Armed Services Committee. 

The Senators again rejected the Administration's request for another round of military base closures, a move that significantly diminishes the possibility that a BRAC round will be included in this year's final defense authorization bill. Ayotte and Shaheen have repeatedly opposed the Administration’s BRAC requests. According to nonpartisan experts, the 2005 BRAC round exceeded initial cost estimates by $14 billion.

They also worked to support investments in military readiness that are important to Pease Air National Guard Base and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The subcommittee markup authorizes important military construction and operations projects, including a new flight simulator and fuselage trainer at Pease to prepare for the KC-46A tanker, and the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP) that helps the military reduce energy, water usage, and costs.

In addition, Ayotte and Shaheen worked to include an amendment to the bill that would push the Air Force to identify and notify those who may have been exposed to perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) that were found last year in the Haven Well in Portsmouth. The presence of PFCs is likely due to the Air Force’s past use of firefighting foam at Pease. The language the Senators included requires the Air Force to report to Congress on its progress by September 30.

Ayotte and Shaheen also introduced an amendment to hold the Department of Defense accountable for reducing unacceptable wait times at child development centers that support service members and DoD civilians.  In a separate subcommittee markup, the Ayotte-Shaheen amendment was adopted and included in the bill which is now being considered by the full committee.  The child development center at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard currently has a wait time that exceeds nine months, and more than 110 children are waiting to enroll.

 “New Hampshire serves an important role in the security of the United States, and this legislation will bolster the contributions of Pease and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to our national defense,” said Shaheen. “The bill also prevents a damaging and expensive round of base closures and addresses the unacceptable wait times that service members and civilian employees experience before their children are admitted to a child development center.  As the National Defense Authorization Act makes its way through Congress, I will continue to propose improvements that will help keep the Granite State at the forefront of our national defense."

“This bipartisan legislation improves efficiency, cuts waste, and supports military readiness. I’m especially pleased that the bill addresses key priorities at both the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Pease Air National Guard Base – including pushing the Department of Defense to reduce long wait times at child development centers and pressing the Air Force to better address the Haven Well contamination,” said Senator Ayotte. “Further, I am pleased that the legislation once again prohibits a new BRAC round.”

As leaders of the Readiness Subcommittee for the past several years, Ayotte and Shaheen have worked together to advocate for America’s military readiness, including Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Pease Air National Guard Base, and the New Hampshire National Guard.