Shaheen Priorities Included in Committee Approved Funding BillsApril 14, 2016
**Provides funding certainty for the KC-46 at Pease, military construction at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard**
**As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shaheen secured funding to support energy efficiency**
**Also secures $2,500,000 for veteran legal services and additional funding for economic development in the North Country**
(Washington, DC) – Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) is a member, advanced bipartisan funding bills that include several New Hampshire priorities championed by Shaheen. The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs FY 2017 Appropriations bill funds important programs that support veterans, the New Hampshire National Guard and the Granite State’s role in maintaining national security.
“In Congress, one of our most important responsibilities is ensuring that our service men and women receive the resources they need to defend our country,” said Shaheen. “While we support our men and women in uniform, we also must honor our commitment to those who have served. This funding bill bolsters New Hampshire’s important role in our national security and helps veterans who need legal assistance navigating the complex VA appeals process. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance this necessary funding in the full Senate.”
The Appropriations Committee also advanced the Energy and Water Development FY 2017 Appropriations bill which includes Shaheen priorities to encourage the development of energy-efficient technologies that will save families and businesses money, while creating private sector jobs.
“Energy efficiency is one of the most cost- effective ways we can reduce pollution, grow our economy and save consumers money,” said Shaheen. “I’m pleased this appropriations bill supports critical programs that will encourage the use of energy-efficient technologies and put our country in a position to be a leader in the clean energy economy of the future.”
Shaheen’s priorities included in FY 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill:
Veterans Appeals Legal Assistance
Senator Shaheen successfully included an amendment to the bill that would, for the first time, provide free legal assistance to veterans appearing before the Board of Veterans Appeals. Since 1992, Congress has authorized the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in partnership with the Legal Services Corporation to provide low-income and other needy veterans with free legal assistance while appearing before the Court. In 2014, the Court invested $2.5 million in in the program and as a result veterans received more than $6.2 million in free legal services. Moreover, since the program was established, participating attorneys have achieved an 80 percent success rate on behalf of veterans. Connecting veterans with legal assistance not only achieves better outcomes it also helps the Courts operate more efficiently.
Shaheen’s amendment would expand the current program by authorizing the Board of Veterans Appeals to also contract with the Legal Services Corporation to assist veterans. Specifically, the amendment provides up to $2.5 million to train, organize, and refer volunteer attorneys to assist veterans while appearing before the Board. This expansion will potentially allow thousands more veterans to access the program. For example, in 2014 the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims decided 7,500 cases; the Board of Veterans Appeals decided over 55,000.
Pease Air National Guard Base
With Senator Shaheen’s strong support, the bill provides the funding for the construction of a KC-46A Fuselage Trainer Building at Pease to help support the Guard’s tanker mission. 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.
Military Construction at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
At Senator Shaheen’s urging, the bill includes $17.8 million to replace the badly outdated junior enlisted barracks at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The bill also includes $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 fully funds 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.
Shaheen’s priorities included in FY 2017 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill:
The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), a program long-championed by Senator Shaheen, secured $214 million in funding for FY 2017. The program helps lower energy costs for low-income families by making energy efficiency modifications to their homes. The bill also includes $50 million for the State Energy Program (SEP) which assists states with the development of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
Shaheen included language in the bill to encourage FERC to prioritize meaningful opportunities for public engagement and coordination with State and local governments in the Federal permitting and review processes of energy infrastructure proposals.
The bill includes $11 million in funding for the Emission Mitigation and Research Program. Shaheen advocated for the program which directs the Department of Energy to undertake additional efforts to advance technology that allow for more precise detection of methane leaks in pipelines and facilities. Methane leakage detection is critical to the safety and security of communities in New Hampshire and around the country.
Norther Border Regional Commission
Shaheen advocated for, and secured, an increase in funding, from $7.5 million to $10 million, for economic development in the North Country through the Northern Border Regional Commission.
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