Shaheen’s NH & National Security Provisions Signed Into Law in Annual Defense BillAugust 13, 2018
**Shaheen Secures Authorization of Funding for the Second Year of PFAS Health-Impact Study & Full Repeal of Unfair Per Diem Travel Policy**
** Shaheen Includes Resolution to Alleviate Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen & Investments to Strengthen US Cyber Infrastructure in Annual Defense Bill**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement after the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual defense bill, was signed into law. The legislation passed both chambers of Congress with bipartisan support and includes a number of critical New Hampshire priorities and national security objectives championed by Shaheen.
“Every year, the defense bill presents opportunities to grow New Hampshire’s important role in support of critical national defense initiatives and to address concerns we face here at home, including Granite State families’ exposure to PFAS contamination and an unfair Department of Defense policy that targeted Portsmouth Naval Shipyard workers,” said Shaheen. “I’m glad we were able to confront those problems in this new law, and that other crucial issues impacting our foreign policy were prioritized, including the first of its kind source code disclosure requirement to strengthen cybersecurity efforts, a strategy to help end the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and a measure to pressure the Turkish government to free Americans who have been unlawfully imprisoned. I’m very glad to see this bill signed into law and will keep working across the aisle to advance legislation that invests in both the Granite State and our national security.”
SHAHEEN PRIORITIES INCLUDED IN THE FY 2019 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT:
Full Repeal of Unfair DOD Per Diem Policy Impacting PNSY Workers
Shaheen led efforts with Senators Hirono (D-HI), King (I-ME) and Kaine (D-VA) on the Senate Armed Services Committee 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.
Authorization of Additional Funding for PFAS Health Impact Study
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 bipartisan, bicameral bill signed into law today, 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 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which is carrying out the study. The bill also includes provisions that would establish a path forward to create a national database for service members and veterans experiencing health problems possibly due to contamination from PFAS substances, which is the basis of Shaheen’s bipartisan legislation, the PFAS Registry Act. Because of Shaheen’s efforts, the Pease International Tradeport will serve as the model site for the nationwide PFAS health study.
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 and United Arab Emirates are taking urgent steps to end the civil war in Yemen, alleviate the humanitarian crisis, and reduce the risk to civilians posed by military operations.
Cybersecurity Requirements to Strengthen U.S. Cyber-Infrastructure
Shaheen successfully added language to require the Department of Defense (DOD) to provide a list of countries of concern as it relates to cybersecurity and to require companies working with DOD to disclose instances where they have been asked to share source code with any country on the list. This provision is the first of its kind and would alert the Department of Defense to potential vulnerabilities posed by countries who have gained access to software used on DOD systems. Currently, there are no requirements for companies to share this information with the U.S. government, despite the risk to U.S. systems operating compromised software on classified and otherwise sensitive networks. 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 will prevent the transfer of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Turkey until the F-35 program in Turkey is re-evaluated, was successfully included in the final legislation signed into law. Senators Shaheen and Tillis felt it inappropriate and dangerous to send Turkey F-35 aircraft at this time, while the Turkish government continues plans to acquire the Russian-made S-400 missile system and to wrongfully imprison Americans and U.S. embassy staff. Senators Shaheen, Tillis and James Lankford (R-OK) have teamed up to free Pastor Andrew Brunson, who is one of several Americans being unjustly held by the Turkish government. The amendment is in-part based on standalone legislation introduced by Senators Shaheen, Tillis and Lankford. Shaheen and Lankford also worked with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to include targeted sanctions against Turkish officials complicit in the unlawful arrest of Americans in this year’s Fiscal Year 2019 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill, which passed the full committee in June. Senator Shaheen visited Turkey last month and met with Pastor Brunson as well as President Erdogan, whom the Senator pressed for Pastor Brunson’s release.
The bill also includes language condemning the unlawful imprisonment of Brunson, Turkish-American scientist Serkan Golge and other American diplomatic staff, and calls for their immediate release.
Funding for Super Flood Basin at PNSY to Support Future Increased Submarine Maintenance Capacity
To address the shallow water 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 will 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 secured funding to authorize a project to establish a National Guard Readiness Center in Pembroke, New Hampshire. The center will 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.
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