Shaheen Secures Significant NH Priorities in Committee-Approved Defense Bill

May 24, 2018

**Advocating for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Workers, Shaheen Secures Full Repeal of Unfair Per Diem Travel Policy**

**Shaheen Procures Authorization for Second Year of PFAS Health Impact Study Funding **

**Bill Includes Shaheen Legislation to Create National Database for Service Members & Veterans Exposed to PFAS Chemicals **

**Shaheen Obtains Measure to Ensure All Non-Active Service Members & Dependents Have Contraception Coverage with No Cost-Share**

** Bill Includes Shaheen Resolution to Alleviate Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen**

**Shaheen’s Amendment to Establish a Top-to-Bottom Review of American Policy in Syria Unanimously Adopted**

(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The annual legislation authorizes national defense objectives for the fiscal year. It will now be considered by the full Senate. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a member of the Committee, secured a number of crucial New Hampshire and national defense priorities, including:  

  • Full repeal of the unfair Department of Defense (DOD) per diem policy on long-term Temporary Duty (TDY) travel that hurts civilians workers who travel for extended periods to US naval bases on behalf of the US government and often incur out-of-pocket expenses for meals and incidentals;
  • Authorization of $10 million for the second year of the first-ever nationwide PFAS health impact study, which Shaheen established in the FY 2018 NDAA;
  • Inclusion of Shaheen’s bipartisan legislation to create a national database for service members and veterans experiencing health problems potentially due to exposure to PFAS chemicals;
  • Shaheen provision that ensures 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 as a part of the underlying bill.

Shaheen once again helped to ensure that another Base Realignment and Closing (BRAC) round was not authorized in the legislation, which could have threatened jobs at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. 

“The defense bill passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee contains a number of fundamental priorities for New Hampshire, and also bolsters our country’s overall national security objectives,” said Shaheen. “From relieving workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard of burdensome and unfair costs, to securing the authorization of additional funds for the PFAS health impact study, I’m pleased by the bipartisan support for a number of key goals that support both New Hampshire and our national security. I will continue to work across the aisle to ensure this bill moves swiftly through Congress and gets to the President’s desk.”

SHAHEEN PRIORITIES INCLUDED IN THE FY 2019 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT:

Full Repeal of Unfair DOD Per Diem Policy Impacting PSNY Workers:

Shaheen joined with Senators Hirono (D-HI), King (I-ME) and Kaine (D-VA) to fully repeal the unfair Department of Defense long-term Temporary Duty (TDY) reduced per diem policy. The policy was intended to reduce DOD costs, but has failed to function as it was intended. Instead, the policy places an unfair economic burden on civilian workers by reducing the per diem rate payable to the worker for each full day while they are away from their families for extended periods of time to provide critical maintenance to our ships and submarines. This results in diminished per diem coverage for workers the longer they’re deployed, and forces civilian workers, including many at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) to pay out of pocket for meals and incidentals.

“This is a significant victory for shipyard workers in Portsmouth and many more across the country, who make great sacrifices to be away from their families and do rigorous work that enhances our military readiness and fortifies our naval fleet,” said Shaheen. “It’s grossly unfair that because of efforts to cut costs at the DOD, American workers had to pay the price out of pocket – that’s unacceptable. I appreciate the bipartisan support to repeal this policy and will continue that spirit of bipartisanship to ensure this provision becomes law.”

Authorization of Additional Funding for PFAS Health Impact Study & Establishment of National Database for Service Members and Veterans Exposed to PFAS Chemicals:

Senator Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health impact of emerging contaminants in water supplies, and in the 2018 NDAA,  established the first-ever nationwide health study on the impacts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water, as well as funding for the study in the government funding bill that was signed into law in March. In the bill passed by the committee yesterday, Shaheen successfully secured the authorization of $10 million for the second year of the study. Shaheen also included specific language in the bill to streamline the process of transferring funds from the Department of Defense to the Department of Health and Human Services, and from there, to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and finally to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, which is carrying out the study. Because of Shaheen’s efforts, the Pease International Tradeport will be included in the multi-site health impact study, as well as a separate, pilot study.

Additionally, Shaheen’s legislation to create a national database for service members and veterans experiencing health problems potentially due to PFAS exposure was successfully added as an amendment to the bill. Shaheen’s PFAS Registry Act is a bipartisan effort that would allow military personnel and veterans to receive updates on recent scientific developments on the effects of PFAS exposure and information on what resources may be available to address their health concerns. 

“This funding is critical to ensure the PFAS health impact study moves forward unimpeded so New Hampshire residents can get the answers they’ve been waiting for,” said Shaheen. “I’m glad the annual defense bill once again prioritizes efforts to research the potential health effects of PFAS contamination, including a specific focus on our veterans and service members who are at a higher risk for exposure, and that this year’s bill will also streamline the funding process for the health impact study going forward. This issue is a huge concern in New Hampshire, and other impacted regions around the country, and I’ll keep working to make sure Congress does its due diligence to get our families the information they need and deserve.” 

US Response to Alleviate the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen:

Shaheen’s bipartisan resolution with Senator Todd Young (R-IN) to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Yemen was included as an amendment to the bill. Shaheen’s measure prohibits the US military from continuing to provide aerial refueling support for the Saudi-led Coalition in Yemen unless the Secretary of State repeatedly certifies that the Government of Saudi Arabia is taking urgent steps to end the civil war in Yemen, alleviate the humanitarian crisis, and reduce the risk to civilians posed by military operations conducted by the Government of Saudi Arabia.

“The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is dire, so I’m very pleased by the inclusion of my amendment that takes concrete steps to protect innocent Yemeni civilians caught in the crossfire of Saudi-led military operations and the ongoing conflict,” said Shaheen. “The civil war has created a catastrophic humanitarian emergency, so the requirements put in place by my provision to reduce risk to civilians, increase access to food, medicine and fuel, and to encourage diplomatic negotiations to end the war are urgently needed. I’ll keep working with Democrats and Republicans to prioritize measures that will bring an end to the violence and improve access to relief for civilians.”

Top-to-Bottom Review of American Policy in Syria:

Shaheen, also a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, successfully added her amendment that establishes a comprehensive strategic review of American policy in Syria. Shaheen previously passed this proposal through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last year. She had urged the leadership of the Senate State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee, as well as the leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to move forward and establish a Syria Study Group. Shaheen also helped introduce the bipartisan Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act, which would instruct the Secretary of State to report on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Syria.

“I’ve been consistently calling for a clear strategy for American policy in Syria, so I appreciate the bipartisan support for my amendment,” said Shaheen. “Syria has been entrenched in conflict for five years. It’s past time to develop a plan that keeps our forces safe and continues efforts to clear ISIS from Syria. This independent review will help provide the information we need to achieve these critically important goals.”

Cybersecurity Requirements to Boost U.S. Cyber-Infrastructure

Shaheen successfully added language to require the DOD to list the countries posing the greatest risk to the cybersecurity of the United States and to track these countries’ ability to gain access to U.S. government systems. This provision is the first of its kind to mandate disclosures for companies doing business with the Department of Defense while allowing countries of concern to access the inner workings, like the source code, of software. Currently, there are no requirements for companies to share this information with the U.S. government, despite the risk of threats to remain embedded in U.S. systems. This provision builds on Shaheen’s efforts to strengthen national security efforts around cybersecurity, having successfully established a government-wide ban on the Kremlin-linked Kaspersky Lab software across all federal agencies in the FY 2018 NDAA.

Bipartisan Effort to Restrict F-35 Transfer to Turkey

Senator Shaheen’s bipartisan amendment with Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), which would prevent the transfer of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Turkey until the F-35 program in Turkey is re-evaluated, received overwhelming support and was adopted in Committee. Given Turkish President Erdogan’s willingness to take American hostages, and his inability to fully guarantee the safety of American and NATO assets in Turkey, Senators Shaheen and Tillis felt it inappropriate and dangerous to send Turkey F-35 planes at this time. Senators Shaheen, Lankford and Tillis have also teamed up to free Pastor Andrew Brunson, who is one of several Americans being unjustly held by the Turkish government. Senators Shaheen and Tillis led a 66 Member letter to the President of Turkey, demanding the release of Brunson, and she jointly announced with Senator Lankford that she would pursue targeted sanctions against Erdogan and officials complicit in the hostage-taking of Americans in this year’s Fiscal Year 2019 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs spending bill.

Contraception for Non-Active Service Members & 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.

Permanent Reauthorization of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) & Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs:

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 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. In the Fiscal Year 2017 NDAA, Senator Shaheen secured a five-year extension of the programs for all federal agencies. Senator Shaheen is also a member of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.

Full Funding for Critical Super Flood Basing at PNSY to Support Future Increased Submarine Maintenance Capacity

To address the shallow levels at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and its impediment to the docking and undocking of submarines, Shaheen successfully secured the authorization to fund a Super Flood Basin. The Super Flood Basin would create a controlled navigational lock structure to raise the elevation of the water above the tidally controlled Piscataqua River. This project will eliminate operational restrictions on Los Angeles class submarines and is critical to the Navy’s efforts to expand dry dock capacity to support essential submarine maintenance.

Pembroke National Guard Readiness Center

Senator Shaheen added a measure that authorizes the funding for a project to establish a National Guard Readiness Center in Pembroke, New Hampshire. The center would support administrative and logistical requirements for the New Hampshire Army National Guard. This project is critical to New Hampshire to improve facilities and increase space for training equipment and enhance mission readiness.