Shaheen Helps Secure Numerous NH Priorities in FY21 Senate Bill to Boost Pay for Service Members, Increase Assistance for First Responders & Invest in NH’s Role in Support of U.S. National DefenseNovember 10, 2020
**Shaheen calls for appropriations process to move forward with focus on COVID-19 relief**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement on the legislation released by the Appropriations Committee’s Chairman to fund the federal government for fiscal year (FY) 2021. Despite the process that failed to include a full committee markup, Senator Shaheen worked to include and supported numerous measures that were added to the legislation that invest in important New Hampshire priorities.
“This government funding legislation addresses a myriad of issues that are top of mind for Granite State families. It boosts pay for our service members, provides resources for first responders – including urgently needed suicide prevention measures – and prioritizes programs to help our communities turn the tide of the substance use disorder epidemic, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19,” said Shaheen. “But our work is far from over. As Democrats and Republicans from both chambers come together to finalize this legislation, we need to ensure it rightly addresses the full scope of the COVID-19 health and economic emergencies impacting our communities. We are still in the middle of this pandemic and our country needs a funding bill that will help Americans survive and recover from this crisis.”
As Vice Chair of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee, Shaheen helps write the legislation that funds key federal programs that respond to the substance use disorder crisis, help domestic and sexual violence survivors, invest in law enforcement programs and much more.
NH PRIORITIES INCLUDED IN FY21 SENATE GOVERNMENT FUNDING LEGISLATION
Pay Increase for Service Members
Shaheen supported a 3 percent pay increase for service members.
Support for Military Spouse Occupational Licensing
Senator Shaheen secured $2.75 million to implement her bipartisan legislation with Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) that will improve the transferability of military spouses’ occupational licenses, and also help alleviate the burden spouses endure if they’re small business owners from having to constantly re-register their businesses as they move from state to state with their families. This legislation was signed into law in 2019 as part of the final FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). At a press conference last May, 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.
Military Readiness Priorities for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
Senator Shaheen supported the inclusion of $160 million for the Multi-Mission Dry Dock project at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. In the FY21 NDAA that’s currently being negotiated by Senate and House Armed Services Committee leadership, Shaheen – a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee — supported the provision that authorizes this funding.
In the legislation released today, Senator Shaheen also secured funding for 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. Shaheen has long been a steadfast supporter of the Virginia-class, and a fierce advocate for Shipyard priorities.
Strengthen the Shipbuilding Industrial Base
Senator Shaheen, co-chair of the Senate Navy Caucus, supported the inclusion of $20 million for submarine workforce development training and $130 million for submarine industrial base expansion.
Investments at Pease Air National Guard Base
Senator Shaheen successfully worked to include funding for 15 KC-46 Pegasus refueling tankers in the Senate’s FY21 appropriations legislation. 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.
Federal Assistance for the ‘Beyond Yellow Ribbon’ Program to Help Granite State Service Members & Families
Senator Shaheen helped secure $22 million for the Beyond Yellow Ribbon (BYR) program, which funds the New Hampshire National Guard’s Care Coordination Program. BYR programs provide outreach services to troops returning from deployment, including health care, marriage and financial counseling, substance misuse treatment and mental health services.
Support for New Hampshire First Responders
A member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Shaheen worked to include $355 million for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program. The AFG program provides direct financial assistance to eligible fire departments in order to enhance the safety of firefighters and the public. Shaheen frequently advocates for New Hampshire fire departments to receive awards through this program. The Senator also helped include $355 million for the Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) program, which provides grants directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, "front line" firefighters available in their communities. In September, Shaheen announced more than $2 million in SAFER grants for the Hudson and Bedford Fire Departments.
Additionally, Senator Shaheen fought to include a provision requiring the U.S. Fire Academy (USFA) to maintain a data set and report on firefighter suicides. It also directs USFA to include an assessment of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) ability to require reporting of firefighter suicide data in applications for AFG grants and SAFER grants. Understanding the severe trauma and stress impacting police officers, fire fighters and emergency personnel, Shaheen has made prioritizing suicide prevention efforts for first responders a top concern.
Grant Funding for States to Improve Mental Health Services for Law Enforcement & Enhancing Police-Community Relations
Senator Shaheen successfully added $10 million for the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act, which includes grant funding for state and local law enforcement agencies to use for improved mental health services, training to reduce stigma of officers seeking help and programs to address handling repeated exposure to stress and trauma. In the newly released legislation, Shaheen boosted federal investments by $5 million over previous funding levels. In last year’s legislation, Shaheen included language directing the Department of Justice to – for the first time – collect data on law enforcement suicides and report on it. Senator Shaheen successfully retained that directive in this government funding legislation and added $3 million for the Bureau of Justice Statistics to carry out this measure.
Senator Shaheen also added $150 million in Department of Justice (DOJ) grants to improve police-community relations, which is an increase of $63.5 million above the FY20 level. The legislation also includes $5 million for the DOJ to create and maintain a database to track excessive use of force and officer misconduct to increase transparency and accountability so officers who’ve committed violations cannot move from department to department undetected. Additionally, Senator Shaheen fought to include $239 million in COPS Hiring Program grants, which support state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies’ ability to hire, preserve and/or rehire law enforcement officers and to increase community policing efforts. This is a $4 million increase over previous funding levels.
Critical Funding for Department of Justice Anti-Opioid Grants
Senator Shaheen successfully procured $539 million for the Department of Justice anti-opioid grant programs, which is an increase of $21 million from FY2020 levels. Shaheen also successfully retained language she added last year to allow grant recipients to be able to use Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant and Substance Abuse Program (COSSAP) funding – which this year will be up to $185 million – to also help those suffering from meth and cocaine dependency, in addition to opioid use disorder. The expanded coverage for COSSAP was spurred by Shaheen’s standalone bill, the Turn the Tide Act, to help tackle the substance use disorder epidemic.
As the Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds major anti-opioid programs, Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to combat the substance use disorder epidemic. In the FY2018 omnibus government funding bill, Shaheen helped secure the additional $3.3 billion to combat the substance use disorder crisis, including the $142 million set-aside for hardest-hit states. As a result of the New Hampshire congressional delegation’s efforts, New Hampshire received a more than ten-fold increase in opioid treatment funding through the State Opioid Response (SOR) grant program.
Continued Federal Investments for Law Enforcement & Community Prevention Efforts to Combat the Drug Epidemic
Senator Shaheen worked to procure $285 million for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program, which provides assistance to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions in the United States. Shaheen has previously visited the New England HIDTA headquarters to meet with law enforcement about ongoing efforts to reduce the trafficking of illicit drugs within the region. She also ensured that the bill includes language barring the administration from moving the HIDTA program from the Office of National Drug Control Policy to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
New DEA Drug Laboratory in New England
Senator Shaheen successfully secured $50 million in the Senate government funding legislation for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to construct a new drug laboratory in New England, which presently does not have one, to improve lab testing in the region. Currently, if a sample may contain fentanyl it must be transported separately by ground transportation to a drug laboratory in New York City due to laws prohibiting its transfer through the mail. This process has been incredibly difficult for the region because agents must physically transport any samples that might contain fentanyl, resulting in hours of travel to New York City and back. The New York Division is also one of the busiest for the DEA, and a lab in New England will help both Divisions meet drug testing demands.
Investments in VA Opioid Prevention & Treatment Programs
Senator Shaheen supported the inclusion of $503.6 million for opioid prevention and treatment programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which is $104 million higher than last year’s funding levels. Shaheen also successfully added a provision that encourages the VA to expand the use of alternative treatments for pain management, including by expanding acupuncture in VA facilities. A leader in the Senate on efforts to respond to the substance misuse epidemic, Shaheen previously introduced the Acupuncture for our Heroes Act to expand access to acupuncturist services for veterans enrolled in the VA health care system. According to a report by the Veterans Health Administration, 80 percent of VA providers identified acupuncture as one of the top three services most often requested by veterans. Currently, only 60 percent of VA health centers provide often limited acupuncture services on site, and 14 percent do not provide acupuncture services at all.
Support for Community Coalitions to Prevent & Reduce Substance Misuse
Senator Shaheen advocated for $101.2 million for the Drug Free Communities (DFC) Program, which provides grants to local community coalitions to prevent and reduce youth substance misuse. Senator Shaheen has consistently advocated for the DFC program and has led efforts in the Senate to respond to the opioid crisis. Shaheen announced a $250,000 DFC grant for Keene and the Upper Valley region earlier this week. She has hosted DFC roundtable discussions with local students, school administrators, community leaders and youth advocates in Woodsville as well as Milford, where she joined the New Hampshire congressional delegation and ONDCP Director Jim Carroll.
Funding for State Opioid Response Grants
Senator Shaheen once again successfully advocated for the inclusion of $1.5 billion in State Opioid Response (SOR) grant funding, as well as the continuing of a 15 percent set-aside of those funds for hardest hit states, like New Hampshire, with the highest opioid overdose death rates. Over the past four years, New Hampshire has received approximately $92 million from these grants to combat the opioid epidemic in the state, with the hardest-hit state set-aside responsible for the majority of those funds. The bill also continues to provide flexibility provisions authored by Senator Shaheen that allow for SOR grant dollars to be used to support treatment and recovery for cocaine and methamphetamine misuse, in addition to opioid misuse.
Bolster Federal Housing Assistance Resources for Granite Staters in Recovery
Shaheen pushed to increase federal support in this funding legislation to provide housing assistance for Granite Staters and Americans across the country who are in recovery due to substance misuse through the SUPPORT Act. Due to Shaheen’s advocacy, funding for this program has been increased by $5 million to $30 million and based on the funding formula used, New Hampshire could receive up to $1.4 million in FY21, $250,000 more than FY20.
Report on VA Community Care Provider Backlog
Senator Shaheen successfully included a provision in the legislation directing the VA to provide Congress with a report on the Department’s plan to fully eliminate the backlog in community care provider claims. The report will include the number of outstanding claims nationally and within each Veterans Integrated Service Network, the date by which the VA determines it will eliminate the backlog, additional resources the VA needs to eliminate the backlog and a plan to ensure that future backlogs are prevented or addressed within a reasonable time.
Continued Financial Relief for New Hampshire and New England Fishermen & Bolstered Investments for NH Ocean Research and Conservation Efforts
Senator Shaheen has repeatedly prevented the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from imposing the costly at-sea monitoring fee on Granite State fishermen and once again secured necessary funding to prevent the burden from being imposed on fishermen. The bill includes $10.3 million to cover the observer fees, as well as $2 million for lobster research, $2.5 million for New England groundfish research and $5 million for research and monitoring of the highly-endangered North Atlantic Right Whale, including a pilot program into innovative lobster gear.
Shaheen successfully increased funding for Sea Grant by $2 million, totaling $76 million nationally. Shaheen worked to include a new $500,000 set aside for research into per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) impacts on coastal waters. Sea Grant is a public-private partnership and collaborates with the University of New Hampshire to study marine and coastal resources and developments. Additionally, the bill includes $78.5 million for NOAA’s Coastal Zone Management Grant program, which is a $1.5 million increase over previous funding levels. This legislation also boosts funding for NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System operations by $1.5 million and increases funds for construction by $871,000. This is important for New Hampshire’s Great Bay, which would be eligible for this pool of federal resources. Senator Shaheen also worked to secure $169.5 million for NOAA climate research, opposing the Trump administration’s effort to cut the program by $85 million in its budget proposal.
Additional Federal Resources to Coast Guard Fishing Safety Training & Research Grants
Senator Shaheen worked to include $6 million for Coast Guard fishing safety training and research grants. Last year, Shaheen introduced bipartisan legislation with Senators Markey (D-MA), Sullivan (R-AK), King (I-ME), Collins (R-ME), Murkowski (R-AK), Warren (D-MA) and Hassan (D-NH) – the Funding Instruction for Safety Health, and Security Avoids Fishing Emergencies (FISH SAFE) Act— which would restore the size of the federal share of fishing safety training and research grants. Understanding the daunting conditions that fishermen face on the job, Senator Shaheen has worked across the aisle to support fishing safety programs.
Addressing PFAS and Contaminants of Emerging Concern
Senator Shaheen helped add more than $50 million to support funding for research, addressing contamination, and undertaking regulatory actions related to PFAS and other contaminants of emerging concern. This includes an additional $1.2 million for the U.S. Geological Survey to continue work to examine and test PFAS compounds in estuaries, lakes, streams, springs, wells, wetlands, soil, and aquifers, with priority given to sampling at sources of drinking water near locations with known or suspected releases of perfluorinated compounds. This funding also includes $20 million to support state efforts to address PFAS through remediation and cleanup.
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. In this new legislation, Senator Shaheen successfully fought to include $15 million to continue the PFAS health impact study that she created in the 2018 NDAA. Senator Shaheen also worked to include $205 million for PFAS remediation. In last year’s government funding legislation, she secured numerous provisions that were signed into law to address PFAS contamination.
Encourage VA to Establish a PFAS Registry for Veterans
Shaheen successfully added language to the legislation that encourages the VA to establish and maintain a registry for veterans who may have been exposed to PFAS due to occupational exposure to Aqueous Firefighting Foam during their military service. Shaheen’s provision also encourages the VA to develop a public information campaign to inform eligible individuals about the registry. Shaheen has championed bipartisan legislation with Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) that would create a national database for service members and veterans experiencing health problems possibly due to contamination from PFAS. The bill would allow military personnel and veterans to receive updates on recent scientific developments on the effects of PFAS exposure, availability of possible treatment options, and information on what resources may be available to address their health concerns.
Examine Safety of Firefighters’ Personal Equipment
Shaheen included $2 million for PFAS personal protective equipment research. Last year, Shaheen introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), which would take important steps to address concerns regarding firefighters’ occupational exposure to PFAS chemicals through their personal protective equipment.
Senator Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to address PFAS exposure, and specifically, occupational exposure to the chemicals. Last year's defense bill included Shaheen’s bipartisan legislation, the Protecting Military Firefighters from PFAS Act, requiring the Department of Defense (DOD) to include blood testing for PFAS as part of routine physicals for military firefighters, as well as a provision authored by Shaheen that would phase out the use of PFAS in DOD firefighting foams by 2024.
Shaheen established the first-ever nationwide PFAS health impact study in the FY 2018 annual defense bill and fought for Pease International Tradeport to be included in the study. Because of her efforts, Pease is serving as a model site for the nationwide study. The study at Pease is actively seeking participants.
Improve Access to Quality Health Care for Women Veterans
Senator Shaheen supported efforts to prioritize $626 million in this appropriations legislation for women veterans’ health care. Women make up approximately 15 percent of current U.S. military personnel and are enrolling for VA benefits at record levels. Over the years, the VA has worked to improve services, resources, facilities and its workforce to make health care more accessible for women veterans; however, there is much that still needs to be done. Women veterans require gender-specific health care services and this funding would help the VA should continue its efforts to provide the necessary resources to provide such care.
Highest Funding Level Ever for Violence Against Women Act Programs
For the fourth year in a row, Senator Shaheen successfully added the highest funding amount ever for Violence Against Women Act programs, totaling $513.5 million for the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The funding legislation released today boosts funding to eight OVW programs, including the Transitional Housing Program and Rural Program, two key areas with high need that will help states like New Hampshire. In September, Shaheen announced more than $1 million for New Hampshire organizations to provide transitional housing and other housing assistance to domestic and sexual violence survivors.
In this funding legislation, Senator Shaheen worked to secure $21.5 million for the Intimate Partner Violence Program. The VA Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Program addresses the identification of IPV and access to services for veterans with the aim of maintaining or establishing the physical, emotional and psychological safety and well-being of veterans and their families. Program implementation expands screening, prevention and intervention services to veterans and strengthens collaboration with community partners, as well as with the Caregivers Support Program and VA programs to address homelessness.
Adolescent Tobacco & Vaping Prevention
Shaheen successfully included a provision in today’s legislation requiring a report from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to Congress on the FDA’s efforts to update guidance that encourages development of products to stop youth tobacco use. Senator Shaheen is a leader in the Senate to keep tobacco produces out of kids’ reach and tackle the youth vaping crisis. Shaheen repeatedly pressed the Trump administration to remove flavored e-cigarettes from the market and led legislation – the E-Cigarette Youth Protection Act – to require e-cigarette companies to pay fees to the FDA to help fund federal prevention efforts and ensure that the agency has the resources needed to conduct enforcement actions against e-cigarette manufacturers. She’s also held multiple meetings with students, educators, law enforcement and health officials across the state about the ongoing public health concern. Senator Shaheen also authored the No Tax Subsidies for E-Cigarette and Tobacco Ads Act to close a tax loophole that allows manufacturers to claim federal tax deductions for the cost of advertising e-cigarettes and tobacco products.
Highest Funding Level Ever for the Northern Border Regional Commission
Senator Shaheen helped secure $30 million for the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC), which is a $5 million increase above the FY2020 funding level and the highest the program has ever been funded. President Trump’s budget proposal sought to eliminate the program entirely. The NBRC helps address community and economic development needs throughout the Northern Forest region. In 2018, Senator Shaheen’s bipartisan legislation to extend the authorization of the NBRC and expand its reach to include Cheshire County and communities in Belknap County was included the Farm Bill, which was signed into law. Language in the FY21 funding bill provides NBRC $4 million to address the needs of rural communities impacted by forest product plan closures, $5 million to fund broadband initiatives and $1 million for the State Capacity Building Grant Program, which was established by Shaheen in 2018 to improve the region’s capacity for business retention and expansion, increase access to high-speed broadband, and other critical infrastructure.
Prioritization of Portsmouth-Piscataqua River Project
Senator Shaheen helped procure $7.72 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) to complete necessary infrastructure projects in New Hampshire and across the country. This is $72.1 million above last year’s funding level, and includes the funding for small harbors that require off-cycle, emergency dredging, like those in New Hampshire. Shaheen also included language reminding the Corps of the importance of the Portsmouth-Piscataqua River project, which has a high benefit-to-cost ratio and is eligible for construction funding.
Once funding legislation is signed into law, the Corps will develop its Work Plan for FY2021, in which Senator Shaheen will continue to urge the Corps to prioritize the Portsmouth-Piscataqua River Project, much like she successfully did for the dredging of Rye and Hampton-Seabrook Harbors.
Continued Support for Research and Development in Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Programs
Senator Shaheen worked to secure over $2.848 billion for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), which is an increase of over $58 million above last year’s funding level. This includes $305 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), a program long-championed by Senator Shaheen that helps to lower energy costs for low-income families by making energy efficiency modifications to their homes.
The bill also includes $62.5 million for the State Energy Program (SEP), which assists states with the development of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
Reauthorize Afghan Special Immigrant Visas
As the lead in the Senate for the continuation of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, Senator Shaheen secured 4,000 additional Afghan SIVs in this spending legislation. The SIV program is the only path to ensuring the safety of Afghan allies that have aided U.S. service members and diplomats. Historically partnering with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) on this priority, Shaheen continues to lead bipartisan efforts in Congress to reauthorize additional Afghan SIVs.
Direct U.S. Government to Prioritize Afghan Women’s Inclusion in Peace Negotiations
Senator Shaheen successfully added a provision requiring the U.S. government to promote and ensure the meaningful participation of Afghan women in ongoing peace negotiations and to prioritize the protection of women and girls and their rights. Shaheen’s measure also requires efforts by the U.S. government to ensure that any agreement protects women’s and girls’ rights and ensures their access to education and work, freedom of movement, health care and legal representation.
Shaheen has led efforts in Congress pushing the Trump administration to prioritize Afghan women’s inclusion in peace negotiations. Senator Shaheen has repeatedly pushed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the administration making women’s inclusion in Afghan peace negotiations a U.S. foreign policy priority. In a hearing last year, Shaheen slammed Pompeo on the State Department’s reticence to support the rights of Afghan women during peace talks. In February 2019, Shaheen led a letter to Secretary Pompeo, urging the administration to prioritize Afghan 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 congressional delegation visit to Afghanistan last June, Shaheen met with a group of Afghan women who described how dramatically their lives had improved since the Taliban government was toppled nearly 2 decades ago.
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