Shaheen NH Priorities & Urgently Needed Emergency COVID-19 Relief to be Signed into Law

December 22, 2020

 **Shaheen successfully helped secure numerous NH priorities in government funding legislation that will soon be signed into law, including assistance for first responders, pay raise for troops, construction of DEA New England drug lab & more.**

 

**The FY2021 government funding legislation also includes critical COVID-19 relief Shaheen negotiated to help small businesses and child care providers and to combat the substance use disorder epidemic and food insecurity crisis**

 

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement after government funding legislation for fiscal year (FY) 2021 was sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law. In the legislation, Senator Shaheen included and supported numerous measures that invest in important New Hampshire and national priorities and deliver urgently needed COVID-19 relief.

"The annual appropriations process presents an important opportunity to address the pressing challenges that are top of mind for Granite Staters. The legislation that will soon be signed into law meets the mark and retains measures I fought to secure, including support for our first responders on the frontlines of the pandemic, investments that strengthen New Hampshire's role in support of our national defense and additional resources to help combat the substance use disorder epidemic, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19," said Shaheen. "As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I also worked to include federal resources to address safety concerns regarding firefighters’ exposure to toxic PFAS chemicals through their protective gear, continued financial relief for our fishermen and much more. Perhaps most of all, I appreciate the bipartisan efforts that went into writing and including the urgently needed COVID-19 relief that’s been added to this legislation. This relief is an important first step but our work is far from over. Congress needs to channel the same bipartisan spirit in January and work in good-faith, across party lines and with the new administration to finish what we started and deliver the long-term assistance our communities need to recover from this crisis. I’m ready to get work and will push lawmakers of both parties and in both chambers to join me.”

 

SENATOR SHAHEEN HELPED LEAD NEGOTIATIONS ON COVID-19 RELIEF IN THE FOLLOWING AREAS

 

$325 Billion in Assistance for Small Businesses

Senator Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, once again led bipartisan negotiations on the small business provisions in the new COVID-19 relief. The package, which includes provisions from Shaheen’s HEROES Small Business Lifeline Act, would provide $284 billion to extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and allow many small businesses and nonprofits access to a second round of PPP loans. The legislation also expands PPP eligibility for 501(c)(6) nonprofits, including tourism organizations and local chambers of commerce, and makes critical policy changes to the program to better serve the restaurant and hospitality industries, which have been among those hardest-hit by the pandemic. To date, nearly 25,000 New Hampshire small businesses and non-profits have received over $2.5 billion in PPP assistance. Additionally, the relief bill includes $20 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) emergency grant program and $3.5 billion to extend the Debt Relief Program established under the CARES Act to cover the principal, interest and fees on all pre-existing and new Small Business Administration (SBA)-backed loans.

Shaheen also worked to establish new SBA grants for shuttered live venues, independent movie theaters and other cultural institutions. As a cosponsor of the Save our Stages Act and the Entertainments New Credit Opportunity for Relief and Economic Sustainability (ENCORES) Act, Shaheen has prioritized efforts to help this important sector of the state’s economy recoup some of the losses they have experienced due to canceled events.

Finally, the small business relief provisions include numerous changes - such as fee waivers, increased guarantee amounts and simpler refinancing - to core SBA programs like the 7(a), 504, Community Advantage and Microloan programs to make them more affordable and useful for small businesses.

 

Supporting Vaccine Distribution, COVID-19 Testing, and Substance Use Disorder Treatment

After leading 17 of her Senate colleagues in calling for more drug and alcohol treatment funding earlier this year, Shaheen worked tirelessly during the Senate negotiations on the COVID-19 relief package to ensure that the bill included robust funding for substance use disorder treatment and mental health services.  The COVID relief package provides $4.25 billion in funding for substance use disorder treatment and mental health care, recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic can compound the nation’s substance use disorder epidemic. This additional funding builds on Shaheen’s ongoing effort to make certain that New Hampshire has the resources it needs to fight the substance use disorder epidemic. This included her successful effort to pass into law provisions from her Turn the Tide Act, which helped provide new flexibility for New Hampshire in the use of State Opioid Response (SOR) grants to treat methamphetamine and cocaine misuse, in addition to opioid misuse. Shaheen also led efforts in Congress to ensure that there was a 15 percent set-aside within the SOR grant program for the hardest-hit states like New Hampshire that have the highest per capita overdose death rates. As a result of these efforts, New Hampshire has received approximately $92 million in opioid response grants in the past four years.

During negotiations, Shaheen also strongly supported more funding for distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as funds for testing and contact tracing. The bill includes $8.75 billion for vaccine distribution and $22.4 billion for testing, contact tracing and COVID-19 mitigation.  In her letter to Senate and House leadership outlining her health care priorities for a COVID-19 relief package earlier this year, Shaheen made more funding for testing and contact tracing a top priority.

 

$26 billion for Agriculture and Nutrition Assistance

Senator Shaheen led bipartisan negotiations to provide $13 billion for nutrition assistance and $13 billion for support for agriculture and fisheries. Last week, Shaheen highlighted the urgent need to provide additional food assistance in COVID-19 relief to help struggling Granite State families during a virtual meeting with New Hampshire nutrition and food security organizations. She successfully secured critical assistance for hungry families, including a 15 percent increase to individual SNAP benefits for six months, more than $1 billion in emergency funding for food banks and for school and child care meal providers, an expansion of the Pandemic-EBT program to include families with young children, $400 million for food banks and $175 million for senior nutrition services, including Meals on Wheels. She also secured funding to support diverse sectors of agriculture, including designated assistance for dairy farmers, fruit and vegetable growers and local food systems, as well as $300 million for fisheries, of which New Hampshire will receive $3 million.

 

$10 Billion for Child Care

Senator Shaheen negotiated $10 billion in emergency funds for child care businesses through the Child Care and Developmental Block Grant (CCDBG) program. These funds maintain the flexibility given to states through the CARES Act and can be used to provide child care assistance to families and support to child care providers in meeting their increased operating costs during the pandemic. The legislation ensures that states provide assistance to child care providers who have not previously received assistance through CCDBG and provide technical assistance to support child care providers in accessing grant funding. The bill also allows states to expand child care assistance to essential workers and to provide child care payment relief to working families. The bill additionally includes $250 million for Head Start programs to ensure they are able to continue to safely serve low-income children and families throughout the pandemic.

 

Providing Smaller States Access to Financial Support for Community Services

Senator Shaheen secured the inclusion of her bipartisan legislation that unlocks $3.625 million in supplemental funding for New Hampshire under the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG). Due to a technical drafting issue with the CARES Act, earlier this year the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) was forced to withhold $43 million in supplemental CSBG funding that would have otherwise gone to New Hampshire and eleven other small states. After hearing from Community Action Agencies in New Hampshire who had funds withheld, Shaheen worked with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to lead legislation in the Senate to fix the drafting issue. Shaheen worked to ensure that this fix was included in the final COVID-19 relief legislation. This fix ensures that New Hampshire will receive the extra $3.625 million.

 

NH & NATIONAL PRIORITIES INCLUDED IN FY2021 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 final version of the FY2021 NDAA that cleared Congress, Shaheen – a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee — supported the provision that authorizes this funding.

Senator Shaheen also secured funding for the procurement of two new Virginia-class submarine—which are repaired and maintained at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. 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. 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 to Process Military Records Requests

Senator Shaheen supported the inclusion of $50 million in emergency funding for the National Archives and Records Administration’s Records Center Revolving Fund to offset losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds will assist the Archives in processing backlogged requests for military service records. Veterans often need access to these records prior to receiving important benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs that they have earned. As a result of the pandemic, the Archives has struggled to process requests for these records and veterans have faced delays in securing their benefits. Senator Shaheen previously wrote a letter to the Archivist expressing concern about the delays in processing.

 

Support for New Hampshire First Responders

A member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Shaheen worked to include $360 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 $360 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, firefighters 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 $8 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. Additionally, Shaheen boosted federal investments by $3 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 $153.5 million in Department of Justice (DOJ) grants to improve police-community relations, which is an increase of $67 million above the FY2020 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 $237 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 $2 million increase over previous funding levels.

 

Critical Funding for Department of Justice Anti-Opioid Grants

Senator Shaheen successfully procured $541.5 million for the Department of Justice anti-opioid and substance abuse grant programs, which is an increase of $23.5 million above 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 $290 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 final FY2021 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 DEA 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 $102 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 recently announced a $250,000 DFC grant for Keene and the Upper Valley region. 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.

 

Banning Surprise Medical Bills

Senator Shaheen strongly supported the successful effort to ensure that the government funding legislation includes a landmark ban on surprise medical bills. Shaheen had heard from countless Granite Staters who, through no fault of their own, have been saddled with sky-high medical bills from out-of-network physicians and other medical providers, despite diligently seeking care at in-network hospitals and emergency rooms. In 2018 and again as a part of her health care affordability package in 2019, Senator Shaheen introduced the Reducing Costs for Out-of-Network Services Act, which would establish caps on how much hospitals, physicians and other medical providers could charge patients for out-of-network care.  In 2019, Senator Shaheen took to the Senate floor to call out efforts from private equity firms on Wall Street who were using dark money attack ads to try and derail progress on surprise medical billing reform. This legislation prohibits physicians, ambulances and other providers from engaging in surprise medical billing and establishes a process for insurers and health care providers to resolve disputes over out-of-network bills while holding the patient harmless. 

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. As a result of  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 FY2021, $250,000 more than FY2020.

 

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 continuing a pilot program into innovative lobster gear.

Shaheen successfully increased funding for Sea Grant by $1 million, totaling $75 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 million. 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 $182 million for NOAA climate research, an increase of $12.5 million or 7 percent, rejecting 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 at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) related to PFAS and other contaminants of emerging concern. This includes an additional $2.7 million for the USGS to continue work to examine and test PFAS substances in watersheds and aquifers. This funding also supports the EPA’s research and regulatory work to establish water standards for PFAS, as well as $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 the government funding 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.

At Senator Shaheen’s insistence, this legislation also includes $1 million in funding for new grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support the development of education courses on best practices for physicians who are caring for patients with significant PFAS exposure. Senator Shaheen and Senator Rounds (R-SD) previously partnered to introduce bipartisan legislation that would create grants for these best practices courses. 

 

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 film forming 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 the PFAS Registry Act, which 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 at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Last year, Shaheen introduced the Guaranteeing Equipment Safety for Firefighters Act, bipartisan legislation with Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) that would take important steps to address concerns regarding firefighters’ occupational exposure to PFAS chemicals through their personal protective equipment.  This legislation was passed by Congress earlier this month as part of the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

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 FY2018 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 $661 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.

 

Robust Funding for Diabetes Research, Treatment and Prevention

Shaheen helped ensure that this legislation included a long-term extension of funding for the Special Diabetes Program (SDP) and the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI). The SDP supports research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on treatments for Type 1 diabetes, while SDPI supports efforts to respond to high prevalence of diabetes among American Indians and Alaska Natives. As Co-Chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, Senator Shaheen and Senator Collins led 66 of their Senate colleagues in an effort that resulted in a three-year extension of funding for both programs as a part of the government funding legislation. Funding for both programs was scheduled to expire this month. As a result of advocacy led by Senators Shaheen and Collins, the government funding legislation also includes increases in funding for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at NIH and an increase in funding for the National Diabetes Prevention Program.

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 FY2021 funding bill provides NBRC $4 million to address the needs of rural communities impacted by forest product plant 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 $2.861 billion for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), which is an increase of over $71 million above last year’s funding level. This includes $310 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 and Ensure Proper Oversight over Afghanistan Operations

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.

In addition, Senator Shaheen advanced language to increase transparency in U.S. government plans regarding Afghanistan and to compel the U.S. government to release details of any agreement with the Taliban and ensure that women’s and minorities’ rights are protected in any such agreement. Aligned with this priority, the bill includes Senator Shaheen’s annual priority to devote funding to Afghan women’s incorporation into Afghanistan’s military and police structures.

 

Protects Jobs at Portsmouth National Passport Center

Senator Shaheen successfully added a provision that would grant the State Department emergency transfer authority and $300 million to continue necessary passport and visa services for Americans—which directly impacts jobs at the National Passport Center (NPC) and the National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth.

Shaheen had previously urged congressional appropriations leadership to avert mass layoffs at the Portsmouth National Passport Center and provide COVID-19 financial relief to the Office of Passport Services, under which NPC operates. She had also called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to reevaluate these job cuts and help alleviate their impact, which resulted in a portion of these employees being asked to return to their jobs.

 

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 actively work to promote the meaningful participation of women in conflict prevention and peace negotiations—for the first time. To complement this mandate, Shaheen has secured funding for the last three years to implement key provisions of that bill at the Pentagon. This year, Shaheen has yet again secured a record amount, $8.25 million, to streamline women, peace and security priorities at the Department of Defense and to hire gender advisors, who amongst other duties, help conduct outreach to various populations in support of U.S. operations. The Women, Peace and Security Act ensures the United States continues to advocate for women’s inclusion and engagement in security activities to prevent, moderate and resolve violent conflict—worldwide and at home.

In addition, Shaheen’s annual request to prioritize women’s inclusion in U.S. military education and training programs known as “IMET” was included and $3 million was added to advance this priority. As more women are included in these prestigious U.S. training programs for international militaries, more women will advance across the ranks of militaries worldwide.