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Shaheen hails committee passage of bill that will enhance national security

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) announced today her support for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012 (S.981), which includes several measures authored or supported by Shaheen. The bipartisan bill passed out of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) with Shaheen’s support this week, and was formally released today.

“The defense authorization bill contains important provisions regarding our national security, as well as the health and safety of our men and women in uniform and the state of New Hampshire,” said Shaheen, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who voted in favor of the legislation. “I was pleased that the bill included several of my proposals that will strengthen our national security, keep our businesses competitive, cancel wasteful spending, and support the men and women that defend our nation every day.  If we are to maintain the greatest military in the world in today’s difficult budget environment, we need to ensure that every dollar is spent effectively and efficiently. The Committee’s draft bill is a good first step in that direction.”

A number of Shaheen’s proposals were included in the measure, including a long-term extension of a critical small business defense program, the cancellation of a wasteful and unnecessary major defense weapons program, a shipyard modernization provision, a provision strengthening National Guard deployment support, and others. The annual defense bill authorizes all Department of Defense programs for the coming fiscal year, and addresses major defense policy issues. 

The bill was passed out of the Committee unanimously and approved $682.5 billion for national defense programs, which is more than $6 billion less than the President’s requested budget.

The Full Committee press release and details of the entire bill can be found here.  

Following is a partial list of provisions Shaheen won inclusion in the bill:

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program Extension

Shaheen proposed an extension of the Department of Defense Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and other critical small business defense programs through 2018. The SBIR program allows small defense manufacturing companies to compete for federal research and development dollars. The Department of Defense issued nearly 3,000 awards in FY2010 through the SBIR program, and over the last two years, New Hampshire firms have received 80 total awards totaling $26 million in grants through SBIR.

“Small businesses are the driver of our national economy and of national innovation.  SBIR has ensured that small businesses have also become vital contributors to our national defense. Extending the program will help create jobs and strengthen our national security,” Shaheen said.

Shaheen has been a leading advocate for SBIR and introduced an eight-year extension of the full SBIR program with a bipartisan group of her fellow Small Business Committee members on March 4.  The program is currently operating under a short-term extension, which makes it difficult for small businesses to engage in long-term planning. 

U.S. Naval Shipyard Modernization Plan

In 2009, the U.S. Navy estimated its total backlog of unfunded infrastructure requirements at the four U.S. public shipyards totaled $3 billion, including $513 million at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  The amendment proposed by Shaheen with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and supported by Olympia Snowe (R-ME), would require the Navy to begin to address these critical deficiencies.

“The men and women at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard have provided outstanding service in support of U.S. Naval operations for almost 200 years. Over the last decade, Portsmouth has suffered from lack of investment in critical infrastructure causing both a decrease in efficiency and hazardous working conditions.  Revitalizing our shipyards will ensure that the men and women of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard will be able to continue to safely and efficiently maintain the ships that protect our shores,” Shaheen said.

Enhancements to National Guard Support

In this year’s Defense Authorization bill, Shaheen continued her drive to support the New Hampshire National Guard’s deployment support program.  A version of Senator Shaheen’s Citizen Soldier Support Act was included in the draft bill.  Shaheen’s proposal would allow for the certification of best practices among the state-led programs assisting the National Guard’s Yellow Ribbon deployment support program, including the New Hampshire National Guard’s innovative and successful Deployment Cycle Support Program. 

“Over the last ten years, our National Guard and Reserve forces have been mobilized more often and in greater numbers than at any period since World War II.  It is critical that service members returning home have the information they need to utilize the benefits they have earned through their service.  Numerous states, including New Hampshire, have established innovative and highly successful support programs to assist Yellow Ribbon effectively creating a coordinated network of care that combines local, state, and federal resources. Our amendment will allow the National Guard to evaluate these programs and share best practices with the rest of the country,” Shaheen said.

The Yellow Ribbon was established by Congress to ensure that members of the National Guard and Reserve have access to information via proactive outreach on available services throughout their deployment cycle.  The New Hampshire National Guard’s DCSP focuses on more personalized connection of service members to marriage counseling, suicide prevention, financial counseling, veterans' benefits, and employment workshops, among other services. 


Senator Shaheen also continued her push to find ways to reduce spending at the Department of Defense without endangering our national security.  Her proposal to cut nearly $804 million on a wasteful, unneeded weapons program was included in the draft bill.   

The Department of Defense had proposed to spend $804 million over the next two years to complete the development of the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS). The program, which the Department has no intention of purchasing upon the completion of MEADS, has been severely over-budget, delayed, and provides few new capabilities for our troops. 

Shaheen has been pressing to cancel this program for several months and repeated this request in the Defense bill. She joined Senators McCain and Begich on an amendment that struck all funding for the program.

“To successfully maintain our military edge, preserve our readiness and enhance our defense capabilities, we need to ensure that every dollar is spent effectively and efficiently.  This project serves as proof that there are effective options for reducing our spending on defense without endangering our national security. We shouldn’t be funding an air defense system that we don’t intend to use,” Shaheen said.

Afghanistan Metrics for Success

Shaheen cosponsored an amendment introduced by Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) which will increase accountability for the war in Afghanistan, an issue Shaheen has long been focused on. The provision requires the President to establish benchmarks toward the President’s stated goal of a 2014 transition to Afghan leadership, in order that the Congress and the American people can closely track progress and success as we begin to transition American forces out of Afghanistan.

“After nearly a decade of war, it is imperative that Americans are able to track the progress that has been made in Afghanistan, and that our leaders are held accountable. That is why I have called for benchmarks as we get closer to the transition out of Afghanistan,” Shaheen said.

Export Control Reform

Shaheen extended her commitment to reforming the nation’s outdated export control system in this year’s bill.   One of her provisions would encourage the Department of Defense and the next Secretary of Defense to maintain a proactive approach with respect to reforming our export control system. Shaheen pressed the President’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, at his confirmation hearing earlier this month regarding export controls, and won his assurance that he will work with her to address the issue.

“As many in the New Hampshire business community have noted, trade in defense manufacturing is an area of tremendous potential export growth for our state and our country, but our current export control regime is complex, outdated and overly restrictive.  Our export control regime was designed decades ago for the Cold War and does not effectively keep us safe our keep our businesses competitive.  I fully support the export control reform effort and will continue to work to bring it in line with 21st century realities,” Shaheen said.  

The Full Committee press release and details of the entire bill can be found here.