Shaheen Secures Substantial Federal Resources for Opioid Epidemic Response & Other Key New Hampshire Priorities in Newly Released Government Funding Bill
**Due to Shaheen’s advocacy as a member of the Common Sense Caucus and as a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, this legislation provides an increase of $3.3 billion for opioid response efforts**
**As the lead Democrat on the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, Shaheen also secures financial relief for New Hampshire fishermen, funding for PFC health impact study, and other priorities**
(Washington, DC)— Last night, Congressional leaders unveiled bipartisan legislation to fund the federal government for fiscal year 2018. The bill includes many New Hampshire priorities championed by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Senator Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee which authored the legislation and the lead Democrat on the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, secured federal dollars for key New Hampshire objectives, including the federal response to the opioid epidemic, financial assistance for New Hampshire fishermen, and funding for the first-ever nationwide perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) health impact study.
As a result of her advocacy on the bipartisan Common Sense Caucus and her engagement during the writing of this funding bill, Senator Shaheen secured significant new resources to respond to the opioid epidemic, including an increase of $3.3 billion. Of this additional funding, $142 million is set aside for states with the highest mortality deaths from opioid overdoses. The Trump administration will determine the precise funding amount these states will receive.
“This legislation represents a substantial increase in federal support to respond to the opioid epidemic. These federal dollars will deliver the material assistance that is desperately needed for prevention, treatment, recovery, law enforcement and first responders,” said Shaheen. “To ensure that states with the highest mortality rates receive a fairer share of these resources, this legislation sets aside funding that the Trump administration can deliver to areas of the country where it’s most desperately needed. As this funding becomes available, I’ll be urging President Trump to follow through on his promise and finally prioritize aid for states like New Hampshire that are reeling from this crisis. For too long, New Hampshire’s healthcare providers, first responders and recovery centers have had to make do as they combat a crisis that is killing hundreds of Granite Staters every year. I appreciate the bipartisan support for this additional funding and will keep working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, particularly those in similarly impacted states, to secure additional help that is immediately needed to save lives.”
Shaheen has separately proposed a $25 billion investment over two years to support programs that provide opioid treatment.
First-Ever Nationwide PFC Water Contamination Study
Senator Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations and Armed Services Committees, secured $7 million to fund the first-ever nationwide health study on the impact of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in drinking water. The bipartisan funding bill also directs the Defense Department to report on the extent of PFC contamination in drinking water, plans for community notification and procedures for timely remediation.
The health impact study was established by Shaheen’s legislation in the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by the President in December. The results of the health study would be particularly important for New Hampshire communities, several of which have found PFC contaminants in their water supplies. Senator Shaheen led the New Hampshire delegation in a letter to the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), requesting that Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, be included in the study. Senator Shaheen has also introduced the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, bipartisan legislation that will help expedite the analysis of contaminants, such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and provide resources to states dealing with the health challenges posed by these potentially harmful materials. As the lead Democrat on the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, Shaheen included language from the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act in the subcommittee’s annual appropriations bill to identify research gaps to address the potential health implications associated with exposure to emerging contaminants.
“New Hampshire families have gone too long without answers about the health impact of emerging contaminants in their water supplies, and how it could affect their children and loved ones, which is why securing the funding to move this study forward has been a top priority,” said Shaheen. “It is completely unacceptable that parents in our community, and those in affected communities across the nation, have to worry about the safety of their children’s drinking water because of this contamination. I’m pleased by the bipartisan support for this study. Going forward, I’ll continue to advocate for New Hampshire communities to be included in the health study so that Granite State families can have the peace of mind that they deserve.”
Financial Relief for Granite State Fishermen
As the Democratic Leader of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Senate Subcommittee, Shaheen was instrumental in obtaining funding to prevent a burdensome and costly at-sea monitoring fee from being imposed on New Hampshire fishermen this year. The fee was previously paid for by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), but in recent years, the agency has shifted this significant financial burden on to fishermen. The monitoring program can cost fishermen up to an estimated $700 per day on fishing trips.
“New Hampshire fishermen face enough daunting challenges – the last thing they need right now is to be further burdened with a costly regulatory fee,” said Shaheen. “We should be focused on making it easier, not harder for our commercial fishing industry to compete in today’s market, which is why I fought to include relief for at-sea monitoring costs this year. I’ll continue to prioritize our fishermen and work to ensure the industry’s long-term sustainability.”
Senator Shaheen has prevented NOAA from placing this costly burden on Granite State fishermen in years prior. She has repeatedly directed NOAA to fix the problem, including speaking directly to the former NOAA Administrator about the negative impact of the at-sea monitoring fees, and organizing a meeting between the agency director and fishermen in New Hampshire.
The legislation also includes $2 million in new funding for New England groundfish research, including the impacts of changing climatic conditions and warming waters on the fishery.
Record-Breaking Resources to Combat Violence Against Women and Reduce Backlog of Rape Kits
Senator Shaheen secured $492 million -- the highest funding level ever -- for the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) for grants provided by the agency. The funding will be used for domestic violence and sexual assault coalitions, rape prevention programs, domestic violence hotlines, support for training for police officers and prosecutors, women’s shelters and transitional housing support services. This also includes $47.5 million in dedicated funding to reduce the backlog of rape kits and reform policies regarding sexual assault. In addition, the bill provides $4.6 billion to be released through the Crime Victims Fund for services and programs to support victims of crime in our communities. This is an increase of $8.5 million for the OVW and $1 billion for the Crime Victims Fund compared to last year’s funding levels.
“Funding the Office on Violence Against Women and supporting the programs it manages are critically important to the health and safety of women and families across the nation, and will always be a top priority for me,” said Shaheen. “Every year, millions of women throughout the United States are survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, yet this administration has failed to nominate someone to lead the agency tasked with interrupting, responding to and combating these crimes – that is unconscionable. These are lifesaving programs, and I’ll keep fighting to get them the resources they need to serve women in our communities across the country.”
Summary of New Hampshire Priorities Funded in the FY18 Omnibus Appropriations Bill:
Combating the Opioid Epidemic
Senator Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to respond to the opioid crisis. As a result of her advocacy on the bipartisan Common Sense Caucus and her engagement during the writing of this funding bill, Senator Shaheen secured $3.3 billion in additional resources to respond to the opioid epidemic, of which $142 million is specifically set aside for the hardest hit states. The Trump administration will determine the precise funding amount these states will receive. The $3.3 billion will be dispersed to federal programs that support treatment, recovery, prevention, forensics and first responders.
As the lead Democrat on the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, Shaheen helped negotiate a substantial increase in funding for law enforcement and grant resources through the Department of Justice (DOJ), totaling $446.5 million, which is nearly $300 million more than last year’s funding bill. This will help local and state communities impacted by the opioid epidemic.
Programs managed by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) will receive an increase of $227 million more than last year’s funding levels, for a total of $330 million. This includes an increase of $132 million above last year’s funding for the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program (COAP).
The bill also includes $30 million for the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvements Grant Program, of which $17 million will specifically help address forensic obstacles due to the devastating death toll from opioid overdoses and testing of synthetic drugs like fentanyl, which have overwhelmed medical examiners, pathologists and crime labs.
Additionally, the funding bill includes an increase of $22 million from last year to prioritize outreach for youth programs to help children and families affected by the opioid crisis.
Northern Border Regional Commission
A senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Shaheen has secured additional funding for the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC), which provides economic development assistance to Coos, Grafton, Carroll and Sullivan counties, as well as other economically distressed areas of the Northeast. The omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2018 provides $15 million for NBRC, a $5 million increase over the previous year. The bill also includes Shaheen's language ensuring that NBRC funds be used to address the needs of rural communities impacted by forest product plant closures.
Earlier this month, Senator Shaheen introduced bipartisan legislation to extend authorization of the NBRC for five years and make additional reforms to encourage business retention and expansion in northern New Hampshire and other affiliated communities in the Northern Forest region. Shaheen’s legislation also establishes a grant program to improve the region’s capacity for high-impact community economic development projects, such as expanding access to high-speed broadband.
New Funding to Support Rural Broadband
The bill includes $600 million for a new initiative in high-speed broadband development – a 10-fold increase in broadband investment over fiscal year 2017 levels – focused on bringing broadband to rural areas. Senator Shaheen has urged the inclusion of broadband deployment in rural communities as part of infrastructure investments. Senator Shaheen also helped negotiate $7.5 million in new funding to improve the national broadband map. Access to high-speed internet has become essential for communities and small businesses to stay connected to an interconnected world and global economy.
Heating and Energy Assistance for Low-Income Families and Granite State Seniors
Senator Shaheen helped protect and increase funding for programs that provide heating and energy assistance for low income families and seniors in New Hampshire – programs that the President has proposed to eliminate. Senator Shaheen helped secure an increase of $250 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which last year provided heating assistance to more than 28,000 people in New Hampshire, many of them families, seniors and people with disabilities.
Shaheen also helped secure an increase of $23 million for the Energy Department’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and a $5 million increase for the State Energy Program (SEP). Together, these programs fund state-driven clean energy initiatives that reduce energy costs for low-income households and seniors, and improve emergency energy planning and response. The omnibus funding package also includes language from Senator Shaheen’s bipartisan legislation, the Investing in State Energy Act, that prevents undue delay in distributing WAP and SEP grants, providing stability to state agencies and local partners that rely on these critical funds.
Added Investments in Transportation and Infrastructure
Shaheen participated in negotiations to include a $1 billion increase in federal funding for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, which is run by the Department of Transportation and supports investments in projects across the country. Shaheen recently helped secure a $10 million TIGER grant for the I-89 Lebanon-Hartford Bridge Project that will help rehabilitate two regionally significant interstate bridges that connect Vermont and New Hampshire. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shaheen has fought to bring federal dollars back to New Hampshire to invest in critical transportation and infrastructure projects to fix the Granite State’s roads, rails, bridges and ports. Last year, Senator Shaheen called on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies to back off threats to eliminate funding for the TIGER program. Shaheen has also introduced legislation, the Strengthen and Fortify Existing (SAFE) Bridges Act, to address the 56,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country.