Shaheen Secures Critical NH Priorities in Senate Defense BillSeptember 18, 2017
**National PFOA Water Contamination Study**
**Ban on Moscow-Based Software Company with Kremlin Ties**
**Support for New Hampshire Rural Small Businesses**
**Investments in Pease and PSNY**
**Increase in Visas for Afghan Interpreters**
(Washington, DC) – Today, the Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is critical legislation outlining the nation’s defense priorities for the fiscal year. The bill includes the following provisions spearheaded by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee:
- Shaheen’s bipartisan amendment that would direct the Department of Defense to fund a nationwide health study on implications of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), such as PFOA, in drinking water. In May, the Air Force announced it would not fund a health study of water contamination around Haven Well at the Pease International Tradeport – Shaheen’s amendment establishes the first-ever nationwide study on the human health effects of those exposed to PFCs in their drinking water;
- Shaheen’s amendment to ban Kaspersky Lab software from being used by the federal government. The Moscow-based software company has ties to the Kremlin. Shaheen’s previous amendment to ban Kaspersky Lab software from being used by the Department of Defense was included in the committee-passed version of the bill in June. Last week, the Trump administration heeded Senator Shaheen’s call to ban the software company from all federal agencies;
- Shaheen’s amendment encourages military exchanges (retail stores), including the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) on 3,100 U.S. Army and Air Force installations worldwide, to select more small business suppliers for its convenience and department stores;
- Shaheen’s amendment to expand the ability of small businesses in rural areas to participate in the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program, which helps small businesses sell to the federal government;
- Shaheen’s amendment to ensure that all non-active service members and their dependents have contraception coverage with no cost-share, bringing TRICARE in line with standard civilian birth control coverage;
- Shaheen negotiated an additional 4,000 visas for the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. The SIV program allows Afghan interpreters and support staff who have assisted in the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and face threats as a result of their service to apply for refuge in the United States. Shaheen’s efforts have been instrumental in keeping this program operating for the brave men and women who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Americans in the field, putting themselves and their families at risk to support American troops and operations.
“This bill contains a number of measures to help our communities, including my bipartisan amendment to authorize the Department of Defense to fund a health study on PFOA contaminant, which has polluted water supplies across the nation, and among them, the Haven Well at Pease International Tradeport,” said Shaheen. “The affected communities in New Hampshire have been fighting tirelessly for answers about the risks from exposure to perfluorinated chemicals in their drinking water. They deserve answers, and this measure will help do just that. Going forward, I’ll work to ensure that this national study pays particular attention to the health impacts on Seacoast residents so we can give peace of mind to New Hampshire families who have been impacted by these contaminants.”
“The case against Kaspersky Lab is overwhelming. The strong ties between Kaspersky Lab and the Kremlin are alarming and well-documented,” said Shaheen. “I’m very pleased that the Senate has acted in a bipartisan way on my amendment that removes a real vulnerability to our national security. I applaud the Trump administration for heeding my call to remove Kaspersky Lab software from all federal computers. It’s important that this prohibition also be a part of statute and be expanded to the entire federal government, as my amendment would do. Considering the strong bipartisan, bicameral support for this proposal, I’m optimistic this will soon be signed into law.”
“We are forever indebted to the courageous Afghan civilian interpreters who risk their lives to help American forces,” said Shaheen. “Their efforts have not only supported the United States’ mission in Afghanistan, but they have protected and saved the lives of our service members in the field, helping to ensure that our soldiers make it home to their families. Though investments in this program have previously wavered, I’m encouraged by this bill’s authorization to bolster visa allocations for interpreters and support staff, and I have confidence that Congress will build on this progress as we move forward.”
SHAHEEN PRIORITIES INCLUDED IN THE FY2018 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT:
Establish Health Study on PFOA, Emerging Contaminants in Drinking Water
The bill includes Senator Shaheen’s bipartisan amendment that would grant the Department of Defense authorization to fund the first-ever nationwide health study on implications of perfluorinated chemicals, such as PFOA, in drinking water. This amendment is particularly important for Seacoast families, following the Air Force’s announcement in May that it would not fund a health study of water contamination around Haven Well at Pease. The national study will be conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Shaheen has also introduced the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, bipartisan legislation that will help expedite the analysis of contaminants, such as PFOA, and provide resources to states dealing with the health challenges posed by these potentially harmful materials.
Ban Kaspersky Lab Software from the Entire Federal Government
Senator Shaheen’s amendment to ban Kaspersky Lab software from the entire federal government was added to the NDAA, and expanded her previous amendment to ban the Moscow-based software company from being used by the Department of Defense. Shaheen has been a leading figure in calling for a ban on the software. Last week, the Trump administration heeded her call and announced that federal agencies have 90 days to remove Kaspersky software from all federal government computer systems.
Expand Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) Program
The bill includes Shaheen’s legislation, the Invest in Rural Small Business Act, which expands a key small business program in rural New Hampshire and across the country. The U.S. government is the world’s largest buyer of goods and services, but small businesses often have difficulty accessing the federal marketplace. The amendment increases the ability of rural small businesses to qualify for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program. The current one-size-fits-all formula for determining a HUBZone leaves many otherwise eligible communities outside the program. The law requires 3 percent of contracts be awarded annually to HUBZone firms, but in 2016, only 1.67 percent of federal contracting dollars were awarded to these businesses. Shaheen’s amendment expands the pool of HUBZone eligible communities and enhances the program’s ability to be a targeted economic development tool. Shaheen introduced this legislation in April after being contacted by Costa Precision Manufacturing in Claremont, New Hampshire about difficulty qualifying for the HUBZone program.
Include More Small Business Products at American Military Retail Exchanges
Shaheen’s amendment encourages military exchanges (retail stores), including the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) on 3,100 U.S. Army and Air Force installations worldwide, to select more small business suppliers for its convenience and department stores. Shaheen contacted the Department of Defense and added the language after learning that Smoky Quartz Distillery in Seabrook, New Hampshire was unable to get AAFES to add its products to its marketplace and supply chain, even though it is a veteran-owned small business.
Provide Cybersecurity Assistance and Training for Small Business Defense Contractors
In order to secure sensitive defense technology, the Department of Defense recently issued a mandatory cybersecurity standard it expects all military contractors (large and small) to meet. The complex cyber standard has proven to be challenging for many small businesses to understand and implement. Shaheen’s amendment directs the Department of Defense to provide more outreach and low-cost cybersecurity assistance (through universities and other organizations) to small businesses handling military technology on non-federal information systems. The amendment was added after Milpower, a small aerospace and defense contractor in Belmont, New Hampshire, told Shaheen the Department of Defense was not providing adequate information about how to comply with the Pentagon’s new cybersecurity rules.
Expand Access to Contraception for Non-Active Service Members and Dependents
Senator Shaheen successfully included an amendment to ensure that all non-active servicemen and women, and their dependents, in addition to active-duty service members who already have this coverage, have equal access to contraception without cost-sharing. For military servicewomen, contraception is critical to ensuring military readiness, for family planning, and as treatment for various health conditions.
Secure Additional Visas for Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program
Senator Shaheen secured the authorization of 4,000 visas for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program for Afghan interpreters and support staff to be included in this legislation. Senator Shaheen has championed the Afghan SIV program, which allows Afghans who have supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and face threats as a result of their service to apply for refuge in the United States. Earlier this year, Shaheen played a critical role in securing additional Afghan visas to avert a lapse in the program.
Invest in Pease Air National Guard Base
With Senator Shaheen’s strong support, the bill authorizes the 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.
Acquire Virginia-class Submarines
The bill authorizes procurement of two new Virginia-class submarines in Fiscal Year 2018 and funds advanced procurement to mitigate an attack submarine shortfall projected for some time after 2020. Senator Shaheen has long been a steadfast supporter of the Virginia-class.
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.
Increase Allotment of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters
Senator Shaheen successfully advocated for the bill to include 24 additional F-35s above the President’s budget 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.
The NDAA passed the Senate by a vote of 89 to 8. The Senate and House of Representatives will now go to conference on the legislation where it will be finalized and sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
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