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Shaheen Statement on Senate Passage of FY 2024 Defense Bill

(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement after the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year (FY) 2024. 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.

“The annual defense bill is an opportunity to advance our country’s national security goals and address issues facing Granite State families. In the Fiscal Year 2024 bill, I’m proud to have secured funding and policies that will solidify New Hampshire’s important role in supporting our national defense. These provisions include securing resources to complete important construction projects at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and investing in the Granite State’s defense industrial base,” said Senator Shaheen. “The bill also better equips our country to respond to evolving challenges overseas, from helping Ukraine and bolstering security in the Black Sea region to strengthening our leadership in the Indo-Pacific. As the NDAA clears another procedural hurdle this week, I will work to ensure priorities benefitting New Hampshire are included in the final passage of the bill.”

After passing the Senate, the bill will next be considered by the House. Below is a summary of top New Hampshire and national security priorities secured by Shaheen in the FY2024 NDAA.

Summary of Key Shaheen Priorities

Supporting the NH Defense Industry

Senator Shaheen successfully included the authorization for $7.5 million in additional funding for continued research and development of the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle – Binocular (ENVG-B), helping to invest in New Hampshire’s night vision manufacturing industrial base and ensuring our soldiers have the technology they need to maintain a decisive advantage on the battlefield.  

Shaheen also worked to include $9.4 billion for the procurement of 83 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. Shaheen has been a steadfast supporter of the F-35 program, which enhances U.S. national security and invests in New Hampshire’s economy and role in support of our national defense. New Hampshire has 58 first-tier suppliers for the program.

In addition, Shaheen secured $2.9 billion for the procurement of 15 KC-46A Pegasus refueling tankers, which are flown at Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire. Most recently, Pease hosted airmen and aircraft for training ahead of the 2024 NATO Air Defender Exercises. The 157th Air Refueling Wing, based at Pease, provided support throughout June to the NATO training exercises.  

Investing in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Senator Shaheen built on her long legacy of securing the authorization and funding necessary to complete the Multi-Mission Dry Dock Expansion. The Committee-approved FY24 NDAA includes $544.8 million to support the project at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. This is an increase over the FY2023 levels and the funding required to keep the project on schedule. The Multi-Mission Dry Dock project will construct a superflood basin and extend portal crane rails for Dry Dock #1 at the Shipyard. The project expands the capacity of the Shipyard to accommodate an additional submarine, as well as ensure it is equipped with the modern equipment needed to maintain America’s fast attack submarine fleet into the future. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Shaheen helped secure this funding beginning in the fiscal year 2019 funding legislation, which she’s continued in ensuing years.   

In the Committee-approved FY2024 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 $3.2 billion in advanced procurement. Senator Shaheen has long been a steadfast supporter of the Virginia-class, and is a fierce advocate for Shipyard priorities. Shaheen also worked to include authorization for the Navy to enter into one or more multi-year contracts for the next block of 10 Virginia class submarines and helped secure $2.4 billion for Columbia-class submarine procurement. 

Expanding Shaheen’s Historic PFAS Health Impact Study & Confronting Full Scope of Challenges Posed by ‘Forever Chemicals’

Senator Shaheen included $5 million to continue and expand the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) PFAS health impact study that she established four years ago. Senator Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health effects related to PFAS contamination. Because of her efforts, Pease is serving as a model site for the nationwide study. This builds on her work in the FY2023 NDAA, in which Shaheen added an amendment to prohibit the Department of Defense (DOD) from purchasing PFAS-laden firefighting turnout gear after October 1, 2026. This followed 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. As a lead negotiator of water provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure law, Shaheen secured record-level funding to upgrade drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and address PFAS contamination.  

In this year’s Committee-passed bill, Shaheen also secured language urging the Department of Defense to utilize safe, on-site PFAS destruction technologies. She also fought to successfully include a number of amendments to the Committee-passed bill focused on increasing transparency related to the Department’s PFAS testing and remediation efforts.

In addition, Shaheen included several new efforts that focus on transparency and accountability with PFAS-impacted communities. Shaheen secured provisions to ensure the Department of Defense better shares how they intend to restore PFAS testing data with state regulators and impacted communities, like at Pease. Following a letter Shaheen led last August to the Department to express frustration with planning and budgeting for PFAS-related activities, she successfully secured an amendment that will require the Department to submit a separate budget justification to Congress to ensure investments in PFAS testing and remediation are used efficiently and effectively, as well as directing recurring reports on DOD’s PFAS-related activities to increase oversight. Finally, Shaheen secured two amendments to increase engagement with PFAS-impacted communities, including language emphasizing the importance of establishing a senior official at the Department to lead DOD efforts. This role would also help build institutional frameworks for community engagement and authorities for DOD to provide technical assistance to PFAS-impacted communities to empower them to make more informed decisions about their health and futures. These provisions are consistent with key pieces of Shaheen’s recently introduced PFAS Community Engagement and Transparency Act.

Increasing Information to Congress on Activity of Cartels & Transnational Criminal Organizations Trafficking Illicit Substances

Senator Shaheen supported the inclusion of a requirement for the Department of Defense to brief Congress on the impact of cartel and transnational criminal organizations (TCO) activities on the U.S. and the region. The FY2024 Committee-passed version of the bill also has a provision requiring the development of a strategy to counter fentanyl trafficking efforts. In April, Shaheen participated in a bipartisan congressional delegation visit to Latin America to address a number of pressing issues, including interdicting illicit substances from crossing the U.S. border.

Senator Shaheen, as Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Justice, has led efforts in the Senate to address the substance use disorder epidemic, which has hit New Hampshire communities hard. Her bipartisan FENTANYL Results Act, signed into law as part of the fiscal year FY2023 NDAA, increases global cooperation in the fight against synthetic drug trafficking. Shaheen also co-leads the Cooper Davis Act, a bipartisan bill to hold social media companies accountable for reporting to law enforcement all illicit fentanyl activity occurring on their platforms. In March, Shaheen and Senators Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) hosted Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, for a discussion on the federal government’s ongoing response to the substance use disorder epidemic. In the FY 2023 government funding legislation, Shaheen secured $608 million in federal grants to help communities and first responders across the nation to respond to the substance misuse crisis.

The bill also includes the Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act, legislation Senator Shaheen cosponsored which would impose sanctions on TCOs and key drug cartel members engaged in international fentanyl tracking and would allow the Treasury Department to utilize special measures to combat fentanyl-related money laundering.

Extending Shaheen-led Pilot Program to Incentivize Employee Ownership in Defense Contracting

Senator Shaheen added a provision to extend a five-year employee stock ownership (ESOP) pilot program, which she originally established in the FY2021 NDAA, by an additional three years. The extension also makes additional adjustments to the pilot program to ensure it effectively captures utilization of employee-owned businesses. In addition to securing this provision, Shaheen successfully added an amendment to the Committee-passed version of the bill to remove the limitation to the program that restricted companies from only receiving one ESOP pilot program related contract extension. ESOP programs allow employees to own shares in the company and empower them within their role and at the company. New Hampshire is a hub for manufacturing and Granite State firms play a critical role in support of our national defense, where they have historically secured contracts through the Department of Defense.   

Supporting the National Guard

As co-chair of the National Guard Caucus, Senator Shaheen has long advocated on behalf of National Guard members and highlighted the invaluable service they provide to New Hampshire and the nation. Shaheen successfully led an amendment to reverse a recent trend in which the statutory requirement for the commander or deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command to be a member of the Reserve Component was only being filled by a member of the Reserves. The Shaheen amendment will ensure that there is parity between the National Guard and the Reserves in meeting this obligation, guaranteeing the Guard with a critical developmental opportunity for their senior leaders. Shaheen also joined with Senator Peters (D-MI) to add an amendment that would elevate the Vice Chief of the National Guard Bureau to the rank of a 4-star, consistent with the rank of all other vice-level service chiefs to ensure they have an equal voice in representing National Guard equities.

Most Critically – Senator Shaheen supported the inclusion of a 5.2 percent pay raise for service members and civilians to ensure military families receive the pay and benefits they deserve.

Summary of National Security Priorities in FY 2024 Committee-Passed NDAA

Safeguarding America's Competitive Advantages

Shaheen successfully led a bipartisan amendment to the Committee-passed NDAA with Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) that would prohibit former American service members from working for the government national security apparatus of China, Russia, North Korea, Syria, Cuba and Iran to protect our national security interests and ensure they do not gain a competitive advantage over the United States and our partners and allies. In addition, to ensure the U.S. is prepared to meet tomorrow’s threats, Shaheen successfully included an amendment to ensure the DOD delivers a critically needed strategy and posture review regarding operations in the information space.

Standing by our Ukrainian Partners

Shaheen helped secure a provision in the FY2024 NDAA that authorizes $300 million in security assistance for Ukraine amid Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion. Shaheen has consistently worked to ensure the delivery of military, humanitarian and economic assistance to Ukraine.

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. Shaheen has led multiple bipartisan congressional delegation visits to Ukraine, met with President Zelenskyy on multiple occasions and leads legislation in the U.S. Senate to address a U.S. strategy toward key political regions in Europe to bolster European security and transatlantic unity. As chair of the Senate NATO Observer Group and Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee that oversees U.S. policy towards Europe, Shaheen is a leading policymaker on efforts in support of Ukraine and in defense of democracies around the globe amid Putin’s war that threatens Ukraine’s sovereignty and security throughout the continent.

Addressing Syrian Humanitarian and Security Crises

Senator Shaheen successfully included her bipartisan Syria Detainee and Displaced Persons Act to designate a senior coordinator at the State Department to lead U.S. government efforts to address the humanitarian and security crises at ISIS detainee and displaced persons camps in northeastern Syria. The provision also directs the administration to develop an interagency strategy to address the threats posed by the camps, with the goal of ultimately repatriating all inhabitants and closing the camps. Finally, the provision increases interagency cooperation and transparency by mandating an annual report to Congress that details progress toward closing the camps.

Senator Shaheen has long led efforts to address the national security and humanitarian crises caused by the rise and subsequent fall of ISIS. Shaheen created the Syria Study Group to complete a comprehensive assessment of the conflict in Syria and ways to address the consequence of the violence. One of the Study Group’s recommendations included the establishment of the ISIS Detainee Coordinator position Shaheen created in the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. In 2018, she led a delegation with Senator Graham to Syria and Iraq, where she visited the detainee and displaced persons camps and met with officials on ways to address security and humanitarian needs. In the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, Shaheen included language to establish an ISIS Detainee Coordinator at the State Department to oversee U.S. government efforts to address the camps and detention facilities. That position was ultimately filled by the Coordinator of the Counterterrorism Bureau, however the position’s statutory mandate subsequently expired at the end of 2021.

Advancing an Interagency Strategy toward the Black Sea Region

Senator Shahen secured the inclusion of her bipartisan legislation, the Black Sea Security Act, which would require the Biden Administration to develop an interagency strategy toward the region. Following Putin’s recent decision to withdraw from the Black Sea grain deal, it has become increasingly clear that the economic and security implications of instability within the Black Sea region has global ramifications for food security. The Black Sea is also of strategic importance to Ukraine amid Russia’s unprovoked invasion. The legislation would require a strategy to increase military assistance and coordination, deepen economic ties, strengthen democracy and economic security and enhance security assistance with Black Sea countries.

Senator Shaheen has been very engaged on U.S. policy toward the Black Sea region for years, stemming back to her participation as an election monitor in Georgia with Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) in 2012. Senator Shaheen was successful in securing limited language in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 government funding bill and the FY2023 national defense bill to underscore the importance of the Black Sea region and to require a strategy from the Department of State toward the Black Sea region. She’s been vocal in the U.S. Senate about the urgency of prioritizing the region following Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked further invasion of Ukraine.

Supporting 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 support for the AHI Cross Functional Team (CFT) to investigate and mitigate AHIs and to provide care for those impacted. Shaheen supported the establishment of the AHI Cross Functional Team in the FY2022 NDAA and worked to authorize $10 million in funding to support its efforts in the FY2023 NDAA that was signed into law. In addition, Shaheen also successfully included a provision that expands the CFT’s mandate to also pertain to “emerging directed energy capabilities” to prepare for future threats.

Senator Shaheen has been a leader in supporting American public servants who have incurred AHIs. In October 2021, President Biden signed legislation Shaheen helped lead, the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA Act), into law. The law authorizes financial support to ensure medical care for those living with AHIs. 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.

Also, in the FY2022 NDAA, Shaheen included a 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 that was 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.

Addressing the Security Situation in the Balkans

Senator Shaheen helped secure a provision that would extend an existing authority for the Department of Defense to train Eastern European partner military forces as part of multilateral exercises and expand that authority to allow for the participation of Kosovo military forces. Shaheen’s efforts are particularly important and timely amid deteriorating security conditions in northern Kosovo.

Shaheen recently led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in a joint statement urging calm between Kosovo and Serbia amid concerning security conditions between the two nations. The statement came on the heels of a phone call between Prime Minister Kurti and Senators Shaheen, Murphy and Ricketts. Last month, Senators Shaheen and Ricketts issued a statement calling for calm. In March, the Senators issued a joint statement on the interim agreement reached between Serbia and Kosovo. Shaheen visited Kosovo and Serbia last April as part of a congressional delegation visit to the Balkans, which also included a stop in Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the urging of Shaheen, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the Western Balkans last month, which came on the heels of Shaheen’s renewed bipartisan push to advance her legislation that would promote cooperation between the U.S. and the Western Balkans.

Bolstering AUKUS & U.S. Public Shipyards

Senator Shaheen supported the inclusion of a provision that directs DOD to designate a senior official to be responsible for DOD’s engagement as part of the efforts to implement the AUKUS agreement, which will help improve interagency coordination on the pivotal tri-lateral pact between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. Shaheen also successfully secured language emphasizing the role that U.S. public shipyards like Portsmouth Naval Shipyard will play in the future by helping the Australian Navy to establish the industrial base required to maintain future fleets of Virginia-class and AUKUS-class nuclear powered submarines.

Increasing Exportability Planning for U.S. Defense Capabilities

Senator Shaheen supported the addition of a provision that contains a number of elements intended to improve foreign purchasing of U.S. defense articles. The provision also establishes combatant command needs for exportability to ensure they are able to prioritize the systems most valuable in their region. This builds on Shaheen’s leadership through her bipartisan legislation with Senator Fischer (R-NE), the Defense Export Promotion of Relevant Technology and Supplies Act (Defense EXPORTS Act). The Senators’ bipartisan legislation would help level the playing field for smaller defense manufacturing companies by funding exportability and interoperability during development of hardware to expedite the timeline for getting urgently needed capabilities into the hands of U.S. allies and partners.

Replenishing U.S. Defense Stockpiles

Senator Shaheen successfully fought to include a measure based on her standalone legislation with Senator Cornyn (R-TX) that would give the Department of Defense enhanced procurement authorities to quickly replenish American defense stockpiles after the President provides aid to an ally or partner attacked by a foreign adversary, including backfilling America’s stockpiles after lethal aid was sent to Ukraine for defense against Russia. Shaheen also supported a provision to update program guidance at the Department of Defense to better integrate planning for exportability in future major defense acquisition programs and middle tier acquisition programs, which will streamline the exportability process for defense articles and provide the defense industrial base with clear guidance on exportability requirements.

Shaheen and Cornyn previously worked together on the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act, which was signed into law, and establishes a military lend-lease program to enhance security assistance to Ukraine. Shaheen also leads the Promoting Readiness for Overseas Contingencies and Unexpected Responses to Exigencies (PROCURE) Act with Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), which would establish a Critical Munitions Acquisition Fund (CMAF) to allow the Secretary of Defense to better manage industry production lines and sustain particular munitions lines that are critical to U.S. national security interests.