Shaheen Continues to Deliver on NH Priorities in Senate-Approved Annual Defense Bill
**Legislation Procures Additional KC-46 Pegasus Refueling Tankers, the Same Aircraft Replacing KC-135s at Pease Air National Guard Base**
** Shaheen-Backed Bill Authorizes Two Virginia-class Submarines—which are Maintained and Repaired at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard – to Help Avert Projected Submarine Shortfall**
**Shaheen’s Legislation to Crack Down on Fentanyl Coming from China & Mexico Passes as an Amendment**
**Bill Includes Bipartisan Shaheen-Portman Legislation to Boost EPA Response to PFAS Contamination**
(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 Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on a bipartisan vote of 86-8. The annual legislation authorizes national defense objectives for the fiscal year. Once the House of Representatives passes its version of the bill, the two chambers will conference on final legislation. Shaheen is the highest ranking woman on the committee. She 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;
- 3.1% pay raise for service members – which represents the largest such increase in a decade;
- Ban on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from firefighting foam, PFAS blood testing for military firefighters 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;
- Bipartisan legislation to crack down on fentanyl coming from China and Mexico.
“This year’s defense bill includes a number of significant provisions that respond directly to Granite State priorities, from additional aircraft and submarines that are stationed at the New Hampshire Air National Guard base at Pease and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, to important legislation that will boost our government’s response to PFAS contamination in our water supplies, to cracking down on traffickers and sponsors of fentanyl manufacturers that are flooding our streets with illicit drugs and exacerbating the opioid crisis,” said Shaheen. “I appreciate the broad bipartisan support to include my provisions that speak to what is needed here in New Hampshire and I’ll continue to work across the aisle to get this bill over the finish line and signed into law.”
SHAHEEN’S NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIORITIES INCLUDED IN THE FY 2020 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT:
Sanctions Legislation to Crack Down on Fentanyl Coming from China & Mexico:
Shaheen successfully included her targeted fentanyl sanctions bill – the Fentanyl Sanctions Act –as an amendment to the defense bill. The bipartisan sanctions legislation applies pressure on the Chinese government to strictly enforce their commitment to make all fentanyl illegal and provides the United States with more tools and resources to target illicit traffickers in China, Mexico and other nations. Shaheen’s legislation was originally introduced with Democratic Leader Schumer and Senators Cotton (R-AR), Brown (D-OH), Rubio (R-FL), Menendez (D-NJ) and Toomey (R-PA).
“More than 80 percent of the total drug overdose deaths in New Hampshire in 2018 were due to fentanyl or fentanyl combined with other drugs. This crisis should have Congress’ undivided attention,” said Shaheen. “As our law enforcement and other first responders tackle this crisis from the front lines, it’s critical that Congress back them up with the resources they need, and that the U.S. government take meaningful action to hold traffickers and their sponsors to account by imposing sanctions and increasing enforcement. Passing this legislation in the defense bill is a big step forward. This is a first-of-its kind legislation that has full-throated bipartisan support, and I’ll keep working to push this effort through Congress and deliver it to the President’s desk.”
Shaheen met with New Hampshire law enforcement officials earlier this week to discuss the Fentanyl Sanctions Act, as well as continued efforts to help stem the opioid crisis in New Hampshire. Senator Shaheen is a leader in the Senate on tackling the opioid epidemic. As a senior member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, she helped negotiate the bipartisan agreement in 2018 that outlined two years of opioid response spending – totaling $6 billion to address the opioid crisis. This included the set-aside funding for states with the highest mortality rates, like New Hampshire. This critical additional funding, which Shaheen helped broker, has been included by Congress over the last two fiscal years. As a result of the Congressional Delegation’s efforts, New Hampshire received a more than seven-fold increase in annual grant award funding provided through the State Opioid Response Grant program.
Tracking Toxic Exposure in Iraq and Afghanistan
Senator Shaheen cosponsored an amendment that would require the Secretary of Defense to include in periodic health assessments, separation history and physical examinations an evaluation of whether a member of the Armed Forces has been exposed to open burn pits or toxic airborne chemicals. Members of the Armed Forces who have been exposed to toxic airborne chemicals or stationed near an open burn pit would be automatically enrolled in the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, unless they opt out, to ensure their records are easily accessible should health complications arise from their exposure. Open burn pits have been used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan and have been linked to a number of illnesses. Senator Shaheen previously cosponsored the legislation offered as an amendment as a standalone bill introduced by Senator Klobuchar.
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.
Shaheen-Portman Legislation to Boost EPA Response to PFAS, 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. The defense bill includes a significant package of legislation, cosponsored by Shaheen, aimed at combating PFAS exposure. This PFAS package includes Shaheen’s bipartisan legislation with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, which would expedite analysis of water contaminants like PFAS and provide support and resources to states dealing with the health challenges posed by these potentially harmful materials. In addition to the Shaheen-Portman bill, the PFAS package directs EPA to establish enforceable drinking water limits for PFOA and PFOS, two of the most prevalent PFAS chemicals, within two years and creates a process to expedite regulatory considerations of other chemicals in the PFAS family. In February, Senator Shaheen led a bipartisan letter with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) that called on the EPA to establish federal drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS, to which the EPA responded that it “intends” to establish these standards.
“PFAS exposure is a serious problem impacting communities throughout New Hampshire and the nation, so I appreciate the bipartisan consensus to include my bill with Senator Portman that makes combating these harmful chemicals a top priority,” said Shaheen. “Breaking down barriers that impede the Environmental Protection Agency from responding to PFAS exposure, and ensuring our local communities have the resources they need to safeguard their water supplies from contamination are important steps we need to take. I’m glad the annual defense bill continues to serve as an important vector to deliver for our communities on this important issue, and I’ll keep working to find solutions to stop PFAS exposure and ensure the safety of our drinking water.”
Shaheen also secured a provision that would ban the Department of Defense from procuring firefighting foam that contains PFAS after October 1, 2022 and would prohibit its use in the military after October 1, 2023. 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.
ADDITIONAL SHAHEEN DEFENSE PRIORITIES INCLUDED IN FY 2020 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT:
Prohibits F-35 Aircraft to Turkey & States Congress’ Intentions Regarding Sanctions Against Turkey’s Purchase of the S400 Air Defense System
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. In addition to the F35 prohibition, Shaheen included an amendment with Senator Lankford (R-OK) to clarify congressional intent regarding sanctions against Turkey’s Leadership for its purchase of the Russian system under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). Shaheen played a leading role in negotiations of CAATSA – Russian sanctions legislation. The Shaheen-Lankford amendment specifically expresses the sense of Congress that Turkey’s acquisition of Russia’s S-400 air defense system undermines the security interests of the United States, weakens the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and is incompatible with the Republic of Turkey’s own security interests.
“This bipartisan effort to impose sanctions sends an unmistakable message to Turkey: NATO and transatlantic security are far too important to hand over to the Kremlin. There will be repercussions if the S-400 Russian defense system is delivered to Turkey,” said Shaheen. “The Turkish military and the people of Turkey understand what is at stake if the Russians are allowed such unprecedented access to a NATO country, but the message is yet to be understood by President Erdogan. If he doesn’t back down from allowing delivery of this air defense system, Congress must take action to ensure the administration responds accordingly.”
These measures are based on Shaheen’s standalone legislation, which she introduced in March with Lankford, 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.
Require Secretary of State to Comply with Law & Prioritize Afghan Women’s Inclusion in Peace Negotiations
Shaheen added her provision requiring the Secretary of State to comply with the Women, Peace and Security Act– which she authored with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)—to prioritize Afghan women’s inclusion in ongoing peace negotiations.
“The Women, Peace and Security Act became the law of the land in 2017, mandating that the United States be an advocate for including women in security structures and the peace-building process. We know the statistics: when women are at the table, peace agreements are thirty-five percent more likely to succeed. As Afghan demand to be included in discussions to determine their country’s future path, the United States is bound by both law and interest to make their inclusion a foreign policy priority,” said Shaheen. “To date, Secretary Pompeo has failed to see that through, which is why my provision to the defense bill requiring the Secretary of State to comply with the law is urgently needed. Afghan women have made significant societal gains – they don’t want to be spectators to their rights being negotiated away.”
The Women, Peace and Security Act bolsters women’s roles in peace negotiations and conflict resolution around the world. Shaheen has led efforts in Congress pushing the Trump administration to prioritize Afghan women’s inclusion in ongoing peace negotiations. In February, Shaheen led a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging the administration to prioritize women’s inclusion in peace negotiations between the United States and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and to protect the United States’ investment in the rights of women and girls. During a Senate Foreign Relations hearing in April, Shaheen repeatedly asked Secretary of State Pompeo to commit to making Afghan women’s inclusion in negotiations a foreign policy priority, to which he refused. Earlier this year, Shaheen met with women leaders in Afghanistan about the urgency and importance of their representation in the peace talks.
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, including detainees associated with the notorious British ISIS cell known as the “Beatles,” 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:
As the lead in the Senate for the continuation of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, Senator Shaheen included a sense of the Senate that affirms the chamber’s position on the reauthorization of Afghan 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.