Shaheen Continues to Deliver on NH Priorities in Committee-Approved Annual Defense Bill
**Shaheen Procures Additional KC-46 Pegasus Refueling Tankers, the Same Aircraft Replacing KC-135s at Pease Air National Guard Base**
** Shaheen Successfully Authorizes Two Virginia-class Submarines—which are Maintained and Repaired at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard – to Help Avert Projected Submarine Shortfall**
**Shaheen Measures Ban PFAS chemicals from Firefighting Foam, Authorize Additional $10 Million for PFAS Health Impact Study Shaheen Created in FY18 Defense Bill & Require DOD to Test Military Firefighters for PFAS Exposure in Routine Physicals**
**Shaheen Obtains Provision to Ensure All Non-Active Service Members & Dependents Have Contraception Coverage with No Cost-Share**
**Bill Contains Shaheen Measure Doubling-Down on Effort to Restrict F-35 Transfer to Turkey**
**Building on Efforts that Created a Syria Study Group (SSG), Shaheen Amendment Establishes ISIS Coordinator Position to Address Detainee Issues and Strategy**
(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The annual legislation authorizes national defense objectives for the fiscal year. It will now be considered by the full Senate. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the highest ranking woman on the committee, secured a number of significant New Hampshire and national defense priorities, including:
Authorization of 15 KC-46 Pegasus refueling tankers, aircraft that will replace the Air Force’s 1950’s-era aerial refueling fleet of KC-135s at the New Hampshire Air National Guard base at Pease, which will be a main operating base;
- Procurement of 2 Virginia-class submarines –which are maintained and repaired at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard— and the authorization of funds for advanced procurement to mitigate an attack submarine shortfall;
- Ban on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from firefighting foam and authorization of an additional $10 million to continue the PFAS health impact study Shaheen established in the 2018 NDAA;
- Provision ensuring all non-active service members and their dependents have contraception coverage with no cost-share, bringing TRICARE in line with standard civilian birth control coverage as a part of the underlying bill.
“The annual defense bill provides an important opportunity to put New Hampshire projects and priorities in support of our national defense front and center. I’m pleased that the bill for fiscal year 2020 continues that practice and supports key objectives critical to the Granite State, including a pay raise for service members, investments in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Pease Air National Guard Base, and new measures to combat PFAS contamination in our communities,” said Shaheen. “This bipartisan bill provides support to the New Hampshire National Guard by authorizing the construction of a new National Guard Readiness Center in Concord, strengthens our submarine fleet and bolsters U.S. air operations with new aircraft, including the KC-46, of which Pease will be a main operating base. In addition to boosting our state’s role in safeguarding our national security, this bill also provides important reforms to keep our communities and service members in New Hampshire safe, including a prohibition on firefighting foam that contains PFAS chemicals and blood testing for military firefighters exposed to these harmful materials. I appreciate the bipartisan efforts that went into this bill and will keep working across the aisle to move this legislation through Congress.”
SHAHEEN’S NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIORITIES INCLUDED IN THE FY 2020 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT:
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 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 last KC-135 departed Pease in March to make way for the KC-46, which is scheduled to arrive later this year.
Military Readiness Priorities for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard:
Shaheen worked to authorize the procurement of two new Virginia-class submarines—which are repaired and maintained at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard—as well as the authorization of funds for advanced procurement to mitigate an attack submarine shortfall. Senator Shaheen has long been a steadfast supporter of the Virginia-class, and a fierce advocate for Shipyard priorities.
Due in part to 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.
Concord National Guard Readiness Center:
Senator Shaheen supported the authorization of $5.95 million in federal funding for a new National Guard Readiness Center in Concord. This effort builds on Shaheen’s priorities in the FY2019 NDAA, where she successfully authorized funding to build the Pembroke Readiness Center, which supports administrative and logistical requirements for the New Hampshire Army National Guard.
Ban on PFAS Chemicals in Firefighting Foam & Boost in Funding for 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. In the FY2020 defense bill, Shaheen secured a provision that would prohibit the Department of Defense from procuring firefighting foam that contains PFAS after October 1, 2022. Additionally, Shaheen successfully authorized $10 million to continue the PFAS health impact study she established in the FY2018 NDAA. Shaheen has repeatedly secured the necessary authorization and funding to implement the study, which is set to begin this summer.
Also included in the defense bill is a critical piece of Shaheen’s legislation with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) that would confront occupational exposure to PFAS— the Protecting Military Firefighters from PFAS Act. The bipartisan bill would require the Department of Defense to include blood testing for PFAS as part of routine physicals for military firefighters. Shaheen and Murkowski previously called on federal health agencies to prioritize studies on the health effects of firefighters exposed to PFAS.
Because of the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation’s efforts, Pease will serve as the model site for the nationwide PFAS health study. In response to recent news reports that the Department of Defense pressured the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to weaken cleanup standards for pollution caused by PFAS, Shaheen doubled-down on her previous request for the department and agency to disclose relevant correspondence regarding the groundwater pollution guidelines for PFAS chemicals. Earlier this month, Shaheen worked with a bipartisan group of Senators led by Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) to reintroduce the PFAS Accountability Act, which would hold federal agencies accountable for addressing PFAS contamination at military bases.
“PFAS exposure has been linked to adverse health effects and contamination has required substantial remediation efforts in New Hampshire and across the country. The Department of Defense should be working proactively to eliminate its use in firefighting foam in order to prevent further harm,” said Shaheen. “Our service members and firefighters are occupationally more likely to come into contact with these chemicals, as are communities in the vicinity of military bases that use firefighting foam containing PFAS. Prevention needs to be part of our plan to combat PFAS exposure, which is why phasing out this type of firefighting foam is a necessary step forward.”
ADDITIONAL SHAHEEN DEFENSE PRIORITIES INCLUDED IN FY 2020 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT:
Prohibits F-35 Aircraft to Turkey:
Senator Shaheen’s provision would prohibit funds authorized by the NDAA to be used for the transfer of F-35 joint strike fighters to Turkey if the Russian S-400 air defense system is delivered to Turkey. This prohibition also applies to equipment, intellectual property and technical data necessary for the F-35, and to construct facilities to store the F-35 in Turkey.
Under the US-led, multinational Joint Strike Fighter program, Turkey is expected to accept delivery of the F-35 as early as next fall. Shaheen introduced comparable standalone legislation in March to prevent the F-35 transfer to Turkey with Senators Lankford (R-OK), Tillis (R-NC) and Van Hollen (D-MD). Last year, Shaheen, Lankford and Tillis introduced a similar bill to restrict the transfer of fighter aircraft to Turkey by directing the Secretary of Defense to submit a plan to Congress to remove Turkey from participation in the F-35 program. That bill was ultimately included in the FY2019 NDAA. Shaheen, Lankford and Tillis also teamed up to raise the case and free Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was unjustly held by the Turkish government. Pastor Brunson was released in October 2018 after being detained for two years.
“As long as President Erdogan continues to move ahead with plans to acquire the S-400 Russian air defense system, any transfer of F-35 aircraft, equipment or supplies must be off the table,” said Shaheen. “This measure has broad bipartisan support because both Democrats and Republicans understand the clear threats posed by introducing F-35s into airspace that will be closely monitored and controlled by the Russians through the S-400 system. President Erdogan may be comfortable with his decision to grant the Kremlin such broad access and insight into his nation’s airspace, but the Senate will not do the same with the United States’ most sensitive defense technologies. We must swiftly move this bill through Congress and see it signed into law so that our message is crystal clear.”
New Senior Coordinator Position to Address ISIS Detainee Issues:
Shaheen successfully added her amendment to establish a senior coordinator position within the Executive Branch for all ISIS detainee issues. This position would lead all diplomatic engagements and planning regarding the future of ISIS detainees. The amendment mandates an annual report to Congress on the status of the repatriation, detention and prosecution of high-value ISIS detainees, as well as efforts to inform family members of U.S. victims about the status of detainees responsible for crimes against Americans. The creation of this role was a recommendation of the Syria Study Group’s (SSG) interim report. Shaheen established the Syria Study Group in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that was signed into law in October. The Syria Study Group is a bipartisan panel created with the purpose of completing a comprehensive strategic review of America’s policy in Syria. Shaheen has worked closely with the family of James Foley, an American journalist and Granite Stater who was viciously murdered by ISIS jihadists. Shaheen has fought to ensure that ISIS terrorists culpable in Foley’s murder, as well as other U.S. citizens, are brought to trial in the United States.
In the defense bill, Shaheen also extended the authority to support training and equipping of vetted Syrian opposition, as well as the authority to support training and equipping of Iraqi Security Forces to counter ISIS.
Prioritize the Reauthorization of Afghan SIVs:
Senator Shaheen included a sense of the Senate that affirms the chamber’s position on the reauthorization of Afghan Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs). The provision reiterates the importance of the SIV program as the only path to ensuring the safety of Afghan allies that have aided U.S. service members and diplomats. Shaheen has led bipartisan efforts in Congress to reauthorize additional Afghan SIVs, and historically partnered with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) on this priority. Just last week, Shaheen introduced new bipartisan legislation that would reauthorize 4,000 Afghan SIVs for FY 2020.
Contraception for Non-Active Service Members & Dependents:
Senator Shaheen successfully included an amendment to ensure that all non-active servicemen and women, and their dependents, in addition to active-duty service members 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.
Additionally, Shaheen included a directive to the Department of Defense to provide more information to the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding concerns about maternal deaths at military hospitals. Media reports and research have raised the alarm on pregnancy-associated deaths at military hospitals and caused worry as to whether facilities need to pursue additional measures to improve the safety of women during childbirth at military treatment facilities.
Expand TRICARE Coverage for Life-Improving & Cost-Saving Technology for Diabetes Treatment:
Senator Shaheen, co-chair of the Diabetes Caucus, added an amendment that would update TRICARE criteria for the use of continuous glucose monitors and direct the Secretary of Defense to provide an update on its progress no later than 90 days after the defense legislation is enacted. Shaheen has historically partnered with fellow Diabetes Caucus co-chair Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to expand coverage for continuous glucose monitors, which are critical in helping diabetic patients manage the chronic disease.
Support for Military Spouse Occupational Licensing
Senator Shaheen worked to include her bipartisan legislation with Senator Cotton (R-AR) that would improve the portability of occupational licenses from state to state for military spouses. Shaheen introduced the standalone legislation earlier this month, which would help alleviate the burden military spouses endure when having to re-register a small business in a new state each time a service member gets relocated to a new military installation. At a press conference with Senator Cotton and Second Lady Karen Pence, Shaheen highlighted the story of Andrea Krull, whose husband is a Granite Stater, and her personal experience of having to continuously re-establish her business as a consultant with every move.
Robust Military Housing Reform in Support of Service Members’ Families
The defense bill contains robust military housing privatization reform in support of service members and their families, including a “Tenant Bill of Rights.” This provision specifically includes a number of legislative fixes that are addressed in a standalone bill Senator Shaheen cosponsored with Senators Feinstein (D-CA), Kaine (D-VA), Warner (D-VA) and Harris (D-CA). In April, Shaheen sent a letter with fellow cosponsors of the bill – the Ensuring Safe Housing for Our Military Act – to the Senate Armed Services Committee leadership, requesting that the bill be included in the FY2020 NDAA.
The NDAA also requires the Department of Defense to consider any performance history of a landlord along with the recommendation of the installation commander when renewing or starting a new agreement. This effort builds off the unacceptable reports of sub-standard conditions in various military housing installations. These provisions are necessary to ensure that contractors are responsive to service members’ concerns, that military housing officials are exercising proper oversight and that service members are empowered to leave any home that is unsafe for their family without fear of incurring a financial penalty.
Establishment of Tech Fellowship for Students:
Senator Shaheen supported a provision that would create a one-year technology fellowship for the Department of Defense and Congress. This would place civilians in the Department of Defense or congressional offices with the goal of increasing the number of national security professionals with science, technology, engineering and mathematics credentials employed by DOD and Congress.