Shaheen Priorities Included in Committee-Approved Defense Bill

May 12, 2016

**Shaheen provisions bolster the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Pease Air National Guard Base** 

**Bill also includes her language directing the Department of Defense to adopt safe opioid prescribing guidelines and pain management alternatives to address rise in servicemember addiction** 

**Shaheen vows to continue to fight to support the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program**

(Washington, DC) – This afternoon, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), critical legislation to authorize funding for U.S. national security priorities. Included in the bill are provisions championed by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), including funding to develop the KC-46A aircraft, which is scheduled to be based at Pease Air National Guard Base, as well as the infrastructure necessary to support the tanker’s mission. The bill also includes her provisions to authorize infrastructure improvements at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and address the heroin and opioid epidemic. Due in part to Senator Shaheen’s opposition, this bill blocks a new round of Base Realignment and Closing (BRAC), which could have threatened jobs at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Senator Shaheen is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which authored this legislation.

“Today, in the Armed Services Committee, we advanced a bill that bolsters the role New Hampshire plays in the defense of the United States,” said Shaheen. “This legislation makes important investments that will strengthen our national security by supporting the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the deployment of the KC-46A at Pease Air National Guard Base while keeping our businesses competitive by encouraging the development of innovative technologies. Importantly, the bill does not include ill-advised Base Realignment and Closing proceedings.”

Shaheen continued, “The legislation also takes steps toward addressing the opioid addiction epidemic that’s spiraling out of control in New Hampshire and threatens our men and women in uniform. The National Guard Counterdrug program has been successful in supporting the efforts of law enforcement across the country to stem the flow of illegal narcotics. Our law enforcement agencies need all the help they can get to battle the heroin and opioid epidemic, and it’s important that we support these successful programs. It’s also important that the Department of Defense be proactive to protect our servicemembers from addiction, and my provision makes it clear that the Secretary must act now to adopt best practices for managing chronic pain.”

The bill also authorizes a waiver of reduced reimbursements for shipyard workers on long-term temporary duty. This waiver impacts shipyard workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard who could have to pay expenses out-of-pocket while traveling and could discourage workers from volunteering for long-term assignments.

“Portsmouth Naval Shipyard workers are in demand for submarine modernization projects around the country,” said Shaheen. “There shouldn’t be a disincentive for shipyard workers to lend their specialized skills on long-term assignments. I’m very pleased that this bill includes my request to put this reimbursement reduction on hold.”

However, Senator Shaheen voiced her strong opposition to the omission in the bill of the Special Immigrant Visa program for Afghan interpreters. If this bill were to pass Congress in its current form, the State Department would not have visas to issue to thousands of deserving Afghans who supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan currently in the application process and would not be able to accept new applications after December 31.

“Our nation owes a great debt to the civilians who have provided essential assistance to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan,” said Shaheen. “These brave men and women stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Americans in the field, putting themselves and their families at risk to help our soldiers and diplomats accomplish their mission and return home safely. I am deeply disappointed that the committee was not able to extend this program in this bill, as we have over the last several years. It’s unconscionable to me that we would abandon these individuals, many of whom have had their lives threatened. I will do everything in my power to make sure Congress extends this program and I hope we can fix this omission when this bill is brought up on the Senate floor.”

Shaheen Priorities Included in the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act:

Pease Air National Guard Base

With Senator Shaheen’s strong support, the bill authorizes funding necessary for the Air Force to continue development of the KC-46A Aerial Refueling Tanker program.  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-46A main operating base, an economic benefit to Pease and the surrounding community.  The KC-46A 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 bill also provides for the construction of a KC-46A fuselage trainer building at Pease to support the Guard’s tanker mission.  

 

Virginia-class Submarines

The bill authorizes procurement of two new Virginia-class submarines in Fiscal Year 2017 and funds advance procurement to mitigate an attack submarine shortfall projected for some time after 2020. Senator Shaheen has long been a stalwart supporter of the Virginia-class.

 

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Senator Shaheen successfully added her legislation to the NDAA that authorizes the repair, recapitalization and certification of dry docks at Naval Shipyards, including the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The bill also includes the Navy’s request to fund its depot capital investment program at 7.1 percent, which is higher than the current minimum of 6 percent. This additional funding will go directly to mission-critical shipyard infrastructure.  

The bill also authorizes a waiver of reduced reimbursements for shipyard workers on long-term temporary duty. This waiver will impact shipyard workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard who would have to pay expenses out-of-pocket while traveling and could have discouraged workers from volunteering for long-term assignments.

At Senator Shaheen’s urging, the bill authorizes $17.8 million to replace the badly outdated junior enlisted barracks at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The bill also authorizes $30.1 million for nuclear platform improvements including the construction of an electrical substation and repairs to underground electrical infrastructure. The project will increase reliability and resiliency for utility systems that are primarily responsible for the protection of nuclear-powered submarines and support facilities. The current utility system is aging, lacks capacity, vulnerable to severe weather and is prone to power failures.

Upgrades to New Hampshire National Guard Facilities

Senator Shaheen successfully advocated for two new military construction projects in New Hampshire. The bill authorizes two New Hampshire Army National Guard vehicle maintenance shops at a total of nearly $20 million in Rochester and Hooksett. The projects are important investments in New Hampshire, which currently ranks 51 out of 54 in terms of the poor condition of its guard facilities and armories.

 

Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Not Included

Based in part on 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. According to nonpartisan experts, the 2005 BRAC round exceeded initial cost estimates by $14 billion.

 

Prescription Drug Addiction and National Guard Counterdrug Program

The bill includes a Shaheen provision to help address the increase in prescription drug misuse among service members and their beneficiaries. The provision directs the Department of Defense to research alternative treatments for chronic pain and ensure that all health care providers receive education and training on pain management and safe opioid prescribing guidelines. Additionally, the bill includes a provision from Senator Shaheen calling for the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) to work with the National Guard to develop a process ensuring consistent and predictable funding for the National Guard Counterdrug Program, which provides military skillsets to law enforcement and community organizations battling illicit drugs. The National Guard Counterdrug Program is currently at work in New Hampshire, where the National Guard is helping local law enforcement to fight the heroin and opioid pandemic. 

 

F-35 Joint Strike Fighters

Senator Shaheen successfully advocated for the bill to meet the request for procurement of fighter jets to address future threats and mitigate a shortfall across all three military services.  Ramping up production of F-35s in particular will drive down unit cost and more quickly fulfill the requirements of our military and our allies. 

 

Family Planning for Servicemembers

Senator Shaheen successfully included a provision that would enhance an annual survey to have comprehensive questions on women’s health and family planning, including issues of access and whether deployment conditions affect women’s decision on which family planning methods to use.

 

Sexual Assault Prevention

Senator Shaheen successfully included a provision directing the Department of Defense to advise on how it is addressing sexual assault prevention in the Armed Forces. The provision also calls for the Department of Defense to seek expertise from non-military experts for advice on strategy and the Department’s sexual assault prevention approach.

 

Energy Security and Efficiency in the Army National Guard

Included in the bill are provisions led by Senator Shaheen to bolster energy security and efficiency in Army National Guard armories and, more broadly, on military properties. These provisions include directing the Department of Defense to develop a strategy to improve emergency power generation and harness heat recovery technologies to ensure sustainability of Department emergency power systems and leverage renewable energy generation.

 

SBIR & STTR Permanency

Included in the bill is a provision that would make permanent the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs for the Department of Defense (DoD). These programs help small businesses engage in the research and development that helps keep the U.S. competitive, and many of the partnerships created through SBIR and STTR involve the DoD, leading to innovations important to our national security. Also, as the lead Democrat on the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee (SBC), Senator Shaheen, along with SBC Chairman Senator Vitter (R-LA), secured committee approval of their legislation to make permanent and strengthen SBIR and STTR across all federal agencies. Currently, SBIR and STTR are set to expire on September 30, 2017.