Shaheen Secures Funding for Northern Border Regional Commission, Shipyard Projects & Other Key NH Priorities in Committee-Approved Funding LegislationAugust 06, 2021
**Legislation also contains more than $3.74 million for NH projects through Congressional Direct Spending**
**Shaheen secures increased federal aid for Northern Border Regional Commission**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, successfully secured a number of critical Granite State and national priorities in bipartisan funding legislation for fiscal year (FY) 2022 that passed the committee earlier this week and will next be considered by the full Senate.
The three bills considered by the Appropriations Committee will fund priorities overseen by the Subcommittees on Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies; Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies; and the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies. These subcommittees fund federal programs within the Departments of Energy (DOE), Agriculture, Veterans Affairs (VA) and Defense, as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The legislation will next be considered by the full Senate.
“This funding legislation includes significant Granite State priorities to address projects from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in support of our military readiness to economic development throughout the Northern Forest region. The bill also provides dedicated funding for New Hampshire infrastructure projects that make urgent investments in our children’s education, public safety and sustainability for Granite State communities. Once again, I appreciate the bipartisan determination on the committee to clear critical legislation that would make real investments in New Hampshire and throughout the nation,” said Shaheen. “This legislation would provide substantial investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy resources, help establish the Office of Public Participation at FERC to strengthen the public’s role in shaping our nation’s energy future, and also support important coastal research that’s done right here in New Hampshire at UNH. And most critically, it continues our nation’s robust response to the substance use disorder crisis, which was exacerbated by COVID. We cleared a key committee hurdle on this legislation, which I’ll work to continue when it is next considered by the full Senate.”
Priorities Secured or Supported by Senator Shaheen Include:
Increased Funding for the Northern Border Regional Commission: Senator Shaheen helped secure $35 million for the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC), which is a $5 million increase above the FY2021 funding level and the highest the program has ever been funded. For years, Shaheen defended the NBRC against President Trump’s administration, which continuously 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 Committee-reported bill provides NBRC $4 million to address the needs of rural communities impacted by forest product plan 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. Shaheen also included language in the funding bill to encourage NBRC to prioritize climate-resilient projects to ensure that infrastructure investments supported by the Commission are preserved for future generations.
Support for Research and Development in Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Programs: Within the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Shaheen worked to include $398 million for Weatherization, 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 $70 million – an increase of $7.5 million over previous funding levels – for the State Energy Program (SEP), which assists states with the development of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
Senator Shaheen also successfully added an amendment to double funding for the Building Energy Codes Program to $20 million to increase training and provide technical assistance to states, local governments, workforce development providers, homebuilders and others to assist with the adoption or compliance with model building energy codes and standards to improve energy efficiency and resilience. This bill comes as the Senate nears passage of the bipartisan infrastructure package – which Shaheen helped negotiate – and includes key provisions of Shaheen’s landmark energy efficiency legislation that will make substantial improvements in the energy efficiency of buildings, manufacturing practices and the federal government.
Enhanced Public Participation at Federal Energy Agency: Senator Shaheen worked to include resources and direction to establish the Office of Public Participation at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). This effort comes on the heels of the Biden administration heeding Shaheen’s call and legislation she previously introduced to enact measures that strengthen the role of residential and small commercial energy consumers in the agency’s decision-making process.
Increased funding for Local & National Infrastructure Projects: Senator Shaheen helped procure $8.7 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) to complete necessary infrastructure projects in New Hampshire and across the country. This is $906 million above last year’s funding level. The Corps completed key New Hampshire projects that Shaheen previously championed, including dredging Rye and Hampton-Seabrook Harbors. Earlier this year, Shaheen secured $18.2 million for the Portsmouth Harbor and Piscataqua River navigation improvement project in the Corps 2021 work plan. The project would widen the uppermost turning basin of the Piscataqua River from 800 feet to 1,200 feet, improving navigation safety.
Investments in NH Coastal Research Efforts: Senator Shaheen worked to include $10,975,000 for the Coastal Inlet Research Program. This supports University of New Hampshire research collaborations with the Corps. Funding will support UNH research projects that address critical issues associated with coastal flooding, erosion and human and ecosystem health in nearshore and estuarine environments.
Resources for VA Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program: Shaheen worked to include $30.6 million to fund the VA Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Assistance Program. Shaheen also worked to add language to ensure that the Department fully resources the IPV program and includes it as a program of interest in its budget request.
Bolster Women Veterans’ Health Care: The legislation contains $820 million for gender-specific health care services, which Shaheen pushed to include. These federal funds will help ensure women veterans’ health care needs are properly prioritized. This is an increase over fiscal year 2021 funding by $160 million.
Continued Support for Substance Use Disorder Response: Shaheen successfully helped secure $621 million for opioid prevention and treatment, which is $119 million greater than the amount provided in fiscal year 2021 government funding legislation. The legislation also contains language directing the VA to provide an update on its efforts to establish the Office of Patient Advocacy, which will provide veterans with advocates to ensure that their interests are represented throughout the course of care. Additionally, the legislation includes $245.6 million – which Shaheen fought for – to continue implementation of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. This funding is $124 million above FY21 funding levels.
Veteran Housing Assistance: The legislation includes $484 million for the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program, which is $76 million above FY21 funding levels. The government funding legislation also provides for the Grant and Per Diem Program for homeless veterans at $270 million. These programs have been integral in reducing veteran homelessness by 50 percent since 2010 through case management, permanent housing and supportive services that promote recovery and housing stability.
Suicide Prevention Outreach: Shaheen worked to include $598 million for suicide prevention outreach at the VA, which is an increase of $286 million from FY21 funding levels. This continues Shaheen’s leadership on suicide prevention measures. In the FY21 funding legislation, Shaheen prioritized numerous provisions that address suicide prevention among first responders.
Home Loan Assistance for Veterans: The funding legislation includes language from Shaheen that directs the VA Secretary to review existing requirements for a VA home loan to ensure that veterans are not unnecessarily disadvantaged when seeking to buy a home in a competitive housing market. This has been an issue in New Hampshire impacting veterans who have encountered obstacles purchasing a home with a VA home loan, given the strict appraisal and inspection requirements.
Continued Investments at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard: Shaheen, also a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, worked to include $250 million in incremental funding for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard multi-mission dry dock project. Shaheen has historically bolstered investments at the Shipyard through the annual government funding process and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). In the FY2022 NDAA that cleared the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, Shaheen again secured the authorization of funds for the multi-mission dry dock project.
Assistance for New Hampshire Maple Syrup Producers: Shaheen worked to include $7 million for the Acer Access and Development Program to help maple syrup producers increase production, strengthen conservation efforts and compete in the global maple syrup economy. This is a $1 million increase over previous funding levels. In 2018, the United States produced more than 4 million gallons of syrup, worth more than $140 million. Maple sugaring provides income to more than 350 producers in New Hampshire. The Trump administration did not include funding for the program in its budget.
Increased Aid for Rural Small Businesses and Farmers to Make Energy Efficiency Improvements: Senator Shaheen successfully boosted funding for the Rural Energy for American Program to more than $22.1 million for FY 2022, a significant increase over previous funding levels. The program helps farmers and small business owners in rural communities improve their energy efficiency or purchase renewable energy systems.
In addition to funding and language for the federal programs listed above, Shaheen also successfully added specific funding for eleven New Hampshire projects through Congressional Directed Spending. More on those here.
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