Shaheen Announces NH Priorities Included in Annual Defense BillJune 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**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement after the committee passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year (FY) 2021. The annual legislation authorizes national defense objectives for the fiscal year.
The FY21 NDAA will next be considered by the full Senate. 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 one Virginia-class submarine – which are maintained and repaired at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard — and the bill authorizes $472 million in advance procurement, in order to preserve the option to procure an additional submarine;
- Establishment of a study to improve scheduling flexibility for firefighters in Navy Region Mid-Atlantic;
- 3 percent pay raise for service members; and
- Authorization of an additional $10 million to continue the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) health impact study Senator Shaheen established in the 2018 NDAA.
“Ensuring our Shipyard and its workforce have the funding, resources and support necessary to carry out missions are my top of mind concerns in my role on the Senate Armed Services Committee. The annual defense legislation provides a critical opportunity to advance those priorities and I’m very pleased this year by the committee’s bipartisan support to do just that,” said Shaheen. “This year’s National Defense Authorization Act authorizes $160 million for the Multi-Mission Dry Dock project at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and invests in Virginia-class submarines – which are maintained and repaired at the Shipyard. The 2021 defense bill also provides a three-percent pay increase for all our service members and authorizes additional funding to continue the PFAS health impact study I fought to establish to help deliver urgently needed answers to affected families in New Hampshire and across the country. I urge Senate leadership to move expeditiously on this legislation so we can have a vote as quickly as possible. I’ll continue to defend the Shipyard – and these priorities – from any effort by the President to plunder its funding to pay for his border wall, and will keep working across the aisle to see this legislation through Congress and signed 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 fall, 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 one new Virginia-class submarine—which are repaired and maintained at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard—as well as the authorization of $472 million in advance procurement to preserve the option to procure an additional submarine. Senator Shaheen has long been a steadfast supporter of the Virginia-class, 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 Closing (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 added an amendment to help improve flexibility in Shipyard firefighters’ work schedules. Shaheen’s amendment 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 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.
Shaheen also supported a requirement for the Secretary of the Air Force to develop and implement a solution to the current operational limitations of the Remote Visual System (RVS) used by KC-46 tankers. Through her role on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Shaheen has repeatedly urged that the contractor expeditiously address the visual system fix impacting the aircraft.
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 PFAS provisions in this year’s NDAA. She successfully fought for the authorization of an additional $10 million to continue the PFAS health impact study that she created in the 2018 NDAA. Senator Shaheen also included 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.
Support for Military Spouse Occupational Licensing:
Building on her efforts from last year, Senator Shaheen worked to authorize an additional $4 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.
Support for Service Members & Veterans with Eating Disorder Recovery:
Senator Shaheen successfully added a provision based on her bipartisan legislation with Senator Martha McSally – the Supporting Eating Disorders Recovery Through Vital Expansion (SERVE) Act – which encourages the Department of Defense to expand access to treatment for eating disorders under TRICARE for service members, veterans and their dependents without age limitations, and implement mental health early identification training within the Armed Forces.
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;
- Continued language for implementation of Shaheen’s legislation to bolster women’s leadership in peace negotiations and conflict resolution; and
- Investments in pandemic vaccines.
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.
Prioritizes the Reauthorization of Afghan SIVs:
Senator Shaheen worked to include a sense of the Senate resolution that affirms the chamber’s position on the reauthorization of Afghan Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) program as necessary and the only way to ensure U.S. allies are safely protected. Afghan SIVs are provided to Afghans who have assisted the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and whose lives are in jeopardy because of their service. Shaheen has led bipartisan efforts in Congress to reauthorize additional Afghan SIVs, and historically partnered with the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ) on this priority. She continued to make this a priority and last year introduced new bipartisan legislation that would reauthorize 4,000 Afghan SIVs.
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 $5.5 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 $175 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 encourage 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, help conduct outreach to various populations in support of U.S. operations. The bill that would require 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 decision-making, and advance women’s inclusion in conflict prevention and peace processes.
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.
Prioritizes Investments in Pandemic Vaccines:
Senator Shaheen supported $4 million in research and development for pandemic vaccines response research. As the United States and global community respond to the unprecedented global health crisis created by the COVID-19 outbreak, Senator Shaheen has prioritized efforts in Congress to help prepare for the mass distribution of a vaccine for this emergency, and to be better prepared for future health crises.
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