Signed into Law: Shaheen Reflects on NH, National Security Priorities in FY2023 NDAA
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement after the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year (FY) 2023 was signed into law. Through her leadership, Shaheen secured several key priorities that respond directly to issues in New Hampshire and top national security concerns for the United States.
“I’m proud to have shaped the new annual defense law to ensure New Hampshire and our nation are equipped to respond to the most pressing national security challenges. As deadly fentanyl continues to infiltrate our communities and take lives, I led a provision to stem the flow of fentanyl and other synthetic drugs before they reach our borders. I also successfully included a provision to bolster domestic supply chains of essential military equipment and PPE, to ensure we never again face shortages of critical items during an emergency like COVID-19. The defense bill also provides another round of important aid to Ukraine as it continues to defend its people and sovereignty amid Russia’s violent, unprovoked invasion,” said Shaheen. “I’ll always work to ensure that New Hampshire remains on the frontlines of providing for our national security – that’s why I worked to secure key investments for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and our New Hampshire National Guard. The NDAA is an important opportunity each year for Congress to unite across bipartisan lines to keep our nation safe and secure, and I’m pleased it is now the law of the land.”
FULL LIST OF NH AND NATIONAL PRIORITIES SECURED BY SHAHEEN IN FY2023 NDAA
Military Readiness Priorities for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
Senator Shaheen supported the authorization of $503 million to continue the Multi-Mission Dry Dock project at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The Multi-Mission Dry Dock project will construct a superflood basin and extend portal crane rails for Dry Dock #1 at the Shipyard. The superflood basin, similar to a navigational lock, will enable Los Angeles-class and Virginia-class submarines to dock without the use of buoyancy assist tanks. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Shaheen helped secure this funding beginning in the fiscal year 2019 funding legislation.
In this year’s NDAA, Shaheen worked to authorize the procurement of two new Virginia-class submarines—which are repaired and maintained at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard—as well as the authorization of $2 billion in advance procurement. Senator Shaheen has long been a steadfast supporter of the Virginia-class, and a fierce advocate for Shipyard priorities. Senator Shaheen also secured $2.5 million in funding authorization to begin development of the joint New Hampshire National Guard-Portsmouth Naval Shipyard child development center. Also, due in part to Senator Shaheen’s successful opposition, the defense 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.
Strengthening the Submarine Industrial Base & Workforce Training
Senator Shaheen, co-chair of the Senate Navy Caucus, worked to include more than $500 million in submarine workforce and supplier development, which will help expand the submarine industrial base in support of the Virginia and Columbia-class programs – the former of which are maintained and repaired at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Increasing Investments in U.S. Military Equipment
Senator Shaheen successfully included $100 million in funding for the procurement of enhanced night vision devices, which are crucial for U.S. service members on the battlefield. New Hampshire is home to manufacturers of the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular and plays an important role in the industrial base and in support of the United States’ national defense.
Investments at Pease Air National Guard Base
Senator Shaheen fought to procure 15 KC-46 Pegasus refueling tankers. 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-46 main operating base, an economic benefit to Pease and the surrounding community. The KC-46 replaces 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. Pease received its full complement of KC-46 tankers last year.
Continued Investments to Combat and Address PFAS Contamination & Prioritize Safety of Military Personnel’s Occupational Exposure
Senator Shaheen has spearheaded efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health effects related to PFAS contamination, respond to the chemical exposure and remediate polluted sites. Senator Shaheen was successful in including PFAS response provisions in this year’s NDAA. She successfully fought for the authorization of an additional $20 million to continue the PFAS health impact study that she created in the 2018 NDAA. This is record-level authorization for the health study that Shaheen has championed.
In addition, Senator Shaheen added an amendment requesting the Department of Defense to prohibit DOD from purchasing PFAS-laden firefighting turnout gear after October 1, 2026. This follows Shaheen-led efforts to expand blood testing and treatment for firefighters exposed to PFAS and a similar amendment she secured to ban the use of PFAS-laden firefighting foam in the FY 2020 NDAA. Senator Shaheen also included an amendment to clarify in statute that the National Guard can access Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) funds for PFAS cleanup at state-owned Guard facilities, which will save the Guard millions in funds they have previously been forced to divert from training and operations. Finally, Senator Shaheen successfully led on enhanced transparency by ensuring the Department of the Air Force is sharing PFAS test results with impacted communities.
Countering the Trafficking of Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Controlled Substances
Senator Shaheen successfully included her legislation, the Fighting Emerging Narcotics Through Additional Nations to Yield Lasting (FENTANYL) Results Act, which directs the State Department to build the capacity of law enforcement agencies of partner countries to identify, track and detect synthetic controlled substances such as fentanyl, which has fueled America’s addiction crisis and devastated communities across New Hampshire. The legislation also directs the State Department to include an assessment of countries likely involved in the trafficking of drugs in its annual international narcotics control strategy report, along with an outline of policies to respond to this threat.
Ensuring Support For American Domestic Supply Chains for Critical Homeland Security Equipment
Senator Shaheen successfully included her Homeland Procurement Reform (HOPR) Act that will ensure that key components of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) procure critical uniforms and protective equipment from domestic suppliers in the United States . The HOPR Act establishes specific criteria that DHS must meet when procuring certain uniforms and equipment, and it will require federal agency procurement officers to bolster American supply chains which provide high quality, innovative uniforms, footwear, armor and equipage produced in the United States.
Investing in Essential Water Infrastructure Projects
Senator Shaheen helped secure inclusion of the Water Resource Development Act (WRDA) of 2022, biennial legislation that authorizes water infrastructure projects across the country. The bill includes a provision requiring the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) to develop criteria for the annual evaluation and ranking of maintenance dredging needs for small, remote and subsistence harbors, like those in New Hampshire. The bill also strengthens the infrastructure workforce by fostering careers in STEM fields, as well as streamlines the implementation of shoreline protection and restoration projects to aid communities most vulnerable to coastal storms. In addition, the legislation de-authorizes the ice dam on the Israel River so the town of Lancaster can proceed with removal. Specific provisions that Shaheen fought for include expediting the maintenance dredging of the Simplex/Tyco shoal in the Piscataqua River and portions of Sagamore Creek that were not previously dredged in 2017.
Underscoring Bipartisan Support for NATO
Senator Shaheen, co-chair of the Senate NATO Observer Group, secured the inclusion of a Sense of Congress that affirms the chamber’s position in support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the alliance’s contribution to international security. Shaheen re-established the bipartisan Senate NATO Observer Group with Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) in 2018 and currently serves as co-chair. Shaheen and Tillis led a bipartisan delegation visit to the NATO summit in Madrid, in addition to future NATO members Finland and Sweden, at the end of June.
Support for Americans Affected by Directed Energy Attacks
Senator Shaheen built on her progress to ensure that all U.S. personnel and their loved ones suffering from anomalous health incidents (AHIs) – also known as Havana Syndrome or directed-energy attacks – get the medical attention they deserve. Shaheen successfully secured $10 million in funding to support the work of the Anomalous Health Incidents Cross Functional Team, which was established in the FY2022 NDAA, to investigate and mitigate AHIs and to provide care for those impacted. In addition, Shaheen included a $20 million increase to address the threat characterization and treatment of certain uniformed members, federal civilian employees and their family members affected by AHIs, who’ve faced stigmatization and adverse experiences following their ailments. Finally, Senator Shaheen also secured language to ensure that the appropriate agency can designate AHI incidents to improve interagency coordination in addressing these attacks and ensure that victims get compensation for their injuries, which was made possible through her leadership of the HAVANA Act.
Shaheen’s leadership on this issue follows her successful effort in the FY2022 national defense law, which included a Shaheen provision based on her standalone legislation to require the President to designate a senior national security official – now filled by Maher Bitar – to organize a whole-of-government response and direct the heads of relevant agencies to designate senior officials to lead their agency’s response to AHIs. The FY2022 law also included a measure Shaheen supported to ensure wounded officers and their families have immediate access to specialized facilities at Walter Reed.
In FY2022 government funding legislation signed into law, Shaheen added language to allow the Department of Commerce and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to address the medical needs of their employees or dependents who are likely victims of these attacks. Absent this language, neither the Department of Commerce nor the FBI would be permitted to provide funding to assist their employees who are AHI victims. Senator Shaheen has been a leader in supporting American public servants who have incurred brain injuries likely from directed energy attacks. In October 2021, the President signed legislation Shaheen helped lead, the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA Act), into law. In the FY2021 NDAA that became law, Shaheen successfully included language to expand a provision in law that she previously wrote to provide long-term, emergency care benefits to all U.S. Government employees and their dependents who were mysteriously injured while working in China and Cuba.
Increased Military Assistance for Ukraine Amid Putin’s Unprovoked Invasion
Shaheen helped secure a provision in the FY2023 NDAA that extends the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) through December 31, 2024 and authorizes the use of up to $800 million in FY2023 to provide security assistance to Ukraine - an increase of $500 million above the President’s Budget. The provision also extends the USAI through 2024.
Senator Shaheen leads action in the U.S. Senate in support of Ukraine in response to Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked aggression, which also threatens the stability and security of Eastern Europe and NATO allies. In October, Shaheen travelled to Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, building from her April trip where she led a bipartisan congressional delegation with Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) to the Balkans to convey continued U.S. support for its allies amid Russian aggression against Ukraine and the implications for European security in the region. In addition, legislation co-led by Shaheen to speed up military assistance to Ukraine and Eastern European nations was signed into law earlier this year. In February, Shaheen led a successful bipartisan effort with Portman to pass a resolution that conveyed a renewed and overwhelmingly bipartisan message from the U.S. Senate in fierce support of Ukraine. In January, Shaheen and Portman led a bipartisan delegation to Ukraine, where they met with President Zelenskyy and members of his administration.
Improving Air Force Pilot Retention
Senator Shaheen partnered with Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) to establish a demonstration program focused on improving Air Force retention of rated officers such as pilots and navigators. This provision addresses the pressing shortfall in rated Air Force officers, which was approximately 1,650 pilots below the Air Force’s desired levels as of this summer. Without urgent intervention, such as the Shaheen-Cotton provision, the Air Force will lack the mid- to senior-level officers required to confront threats to our nation.
This effort builds on a provision Shaheen and Cotton also worked together to include in the FY2022 NDAA to establish a Joint Aviation Safety Council at the Department of Defense. Based on the recommendations of the National Commission on Military Aviation Safety, which was created by the FY2019 NDAA to address aviation safety concerns, the Council is responsible for issuing, publishing and updating regulations pertaining to aviation safety and collecting mishap data. The Council also establishes aviation safety management systems for the military departments and works to identify risk mitigation efforts to reduce aviation safety hazards.