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Shea-Porter Urges Veterans Conference Committee to Keep Language Very Similar to Her Veterans Health Equity Act

WASHINGTON, DC – As members of the House and Senate form a Conference Committee to complete debate on legislation that will increase accountability at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and hire more doctors and nurses to provide timely, quality care for veterans, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01)sent a letter today to the Conference Committee urging them to retain language included by the Senate, which is very similar to her Veterans Health Equity Act.

“Like my bill, the Senate-passed Veteran Access to Care Act includes a provision to ensure that veterans who live in a state without a full-service VA medical facility, such as New Hampshire, and who live more than 20 miles from a full-service VA medical facility, may access care from a private healthcare provider,” Shea-Porter said. “I respectfully request that you retain the language in Section 301 of H.R. 3230 as passed by the Senate, which is very similar to my bill, the Veterans Health Equity Act. This provision will solve some of the problems that rural veterans, many of whom live in New Hampshire, face when traveling long distances to receive medical care. The long ride to a VA medical facility has been a huge and unfair burden to our oldest and sickest veterans, and we have a chance to lift that burden now as part of the new VA legislation.”

Section 301 of the Veteran Access to Care Act would “expand availability of hospital care and medical services for veterans through the use of contracts.” Shea-Porter’s legislation would ensure that “every state has a full-service veterans hospital or that similar services are made available through contracts with hospitals in the state.”

Shea-Porter originally introduced the Veterans Health Equity Act in 2008. Since then, every member of New Hampshire’s delegation has cosponsored or reintroduced the bill.

Senators Shaheen and Ayotte worked to include the provision in the Senate VA bill. The Republican House Majority brought up the House VA bill under a closed rule, meaning language could not be changed.

Shea-Porter has been a leader in the effort to address issues within the Department of Veterans affairs. She supported the Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014. She cosponsored the  Veterans Timely Access to Health Care Act. And she was one of the first House Democrats to call for new leadership at the VA.

Full text of the letter is below.

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June 23, 2014

The Honorable Bernie Sanders
Chairman, Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
Russell Senate Building, Room 412
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Richard Burr
Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

The Honorable Jeff Miller
Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
335 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Mike Michaud
Ranking Member, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
333 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

I respectfully request that you retain the language in Section 301 of H.R. 3230 as passed by the Senate, which is very similar to my bill, the Veterans Health Equity Act. This provision will solve some of the problems that rural veterans, many of whom live in New Hampshire, face when traveling long distances to receive medical care. The long ride to a VA medical facility has been a huge and unfair burden to our oldest and sickest veterans, and we have a chance to lift that burden now as part of the new VA legislation.

All too often, veterans from my state must travel to Vermont or Massachusetts because New Hampshire no longer has a full-service VA medical facility. New Hampshire is currently one of the few states in the nation that does not have a full-service veterans hospital or equivalent access to comparable care. That is why I introduced the Veterans Health Equity Act in 2008, and have reintroduced it in my ensuing term. My bill would increase veterans’ access to VA or equivalent health care in New Hampshire. This is a matter of fairness. Since I originally introduced this bill, access to in-state medical care for New Hampshire’s veterans has improved, but not enough.

Like my bill, the Senate-passed Veteran Access to Care Act includes a provision to ensure that veterans who live in a state without a full-service VA medical facility, such as New Hampshire, and who live more than 20 miles from a full-service VA medical facility, may access care from a private healthcare provider.

Thanking veterans for their service means honoring our commitments to them, and that includes a commitment to timely, accessible, and convenient medical care. By retaining this provision, Congress can ensure that veterans living in rural areas far from a VA medical facility can access care in a way that does not cause hardship, and ensure that our veterans are treated as they deserve. I respectfully ask that this important provision be retained in Conference.

Sincerely,

Carol Shea-Porter

Member of Congress

 

Frank Guinta Must Denounce Rick Perry’s Offensive Remarks

Guinta and Perry Recently Dined Together in Texas

Shea-Porter Campaign: Perry’s offensive remarks have no place in New Hampshire

Rick Perry by Gage SkidmoreMANCHESTER, NH – Three weeks ago, Frank Guinta dined with Texas Governor Rick Perry in the Governor’s Austin mansion. This week, Perry doubled down on his outrageous comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism, and Mr. Guinta stood silently as Rick Perry insulted our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community.

“Frank Guinta’s friend Rick Perry compared homosexuality to alcoholism and Frank Guinta thinks that’s okay?” Patrick Carroll, Campaign Manager for Carol Shea-Porter asked. “If Mr. Guinta believes in equality, he must condemn Rick Perry’s disgusting remarks and call for an apology immediately. New Hampshire families would not tolerate this offensive comparison in their living room, and Frank Guinta should stand up for all of the people of our state.”

When asked whether he thought homosexuality was a disorder, Perry recently said, “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that – and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.” When asked to clarify his comments, CNN reported, “Perry sticks by alcoholism and homosexuality comparison.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie already denounced the remark.

As a member of Congress, Guinta received the worst score possible from the Human Rights Campaign.

Shea-Porter helped end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. She is an original cosponsor of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), and she signed the historic amicus brief regarding the unconstitutionality of DOMA.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter Tours GE Aviation and Shows Support For American Manufacturing

image001Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) spoke with plant leaders and employees as she toured GE Aviation in Hooksett on Friday, June 13. During the town hall, she answered questions about the situations in Iraq, Ukraine, China, and around the world, and she discussed the VA health care system and smart investments in New Hampshire’s workforce. Shea-Porter also voiced her continued support for funding EA-18G Growler aircraft. The engines for the Growler are partially produced in Hooksett.

“As a big supporter of American manufacturing and New Hampshire jobs, I enjoyed touring GE and seeing the important work done by the men and women there to support our nation’s defense and grow New Hampshire’s economy,” Shea-Porter said. “I particularly enjoyed the town hall with employees after the tour.”

In the113th Congress, Shea-Porter has made a point to tour manufacturing facilities in New Hampshire. She paid her way through college by working minimum wage jobs and on a factory floor, and she has long supported American manufacturing. As a founding member of the Make it in America Working Group, she has fought to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States and to New Hampshire. Shea-Porter helped initiate New Hampshire’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership in Education (AMPEd), which was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and has successfully helped New Hampshire businesses and colleges partner to invest in our state’s manufacturing workforce.

 According to the New England Council, manufacturing is New Hampshire’s second-biggest industry.

In April, Congresswoman Shea-Porter sent a letter to the chairs and ranking members of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and the House Armed Services Committee urging them to support Growlers in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, A True Fighter For NH Families (New Web Video Included)

Screenshot YouTube Stand with Me CROPPEDAfter filing her candidacy to represent New Hampshire’s First Congressional District, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) launched a new web video, “Stand with Me.” The spot focuses on Shea-Porter’s New Hampshire roots, her promises kept to fight for jobs, education, and infrastructure, and her pledge to never take a dime from Corporate PACs or DC Lobbyists.

Over the last year and a half, the NH Labor News has been covering the actions of Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter.  We have highlighted some of the ways she is protecting New Hampshire’s working families.  We have at times been critical of Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter and all of Congress over their failure to pass some meaningful legislation that would move our country in the right direction.

Protecting Workers At Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter is a strong advocate for working families.  She has been adamant against the closing of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and reversing the effects of the draconian budget cuts of the “sequester.”

“I cannot stress this enough, Congress must pass a responsible budget that creates jobs and eliminates sequestration,” Shea-Porter said. “The men and women at the Shipyard are essential to our national defense and contribute $660 million to the region’s economy. Continuing the cuts of sequestration is unfair to these men and women, and it is a deeply misguided approach.”

The sequester forced workers throughout the federal government into furloughs, resulting in a loss of pay and a slow down of work.

“Our shipyard will not survive another 9 ½ years of sequestration,” said Paul O’Connor, President of the Shipyard Metal Trades Council. “Sequestration was never intended to be a sensible budget cutting device. It was a scheme of cuts so damaging that Congress would be forced to work together to avoid them. This is a bad law and it must end.”

Pay Equity

In Washington, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter used her position to push for pay equity for all working women.

“Working women are America’s mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives. We’re America’s factory and office workers, health care professionals and scientists, business executives and teachers,” said Shea-Porter. “Women are working everywhere, but women in America still make only 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.  Equal pay for equal work is a fairness issue and an economic issue.”

Standing up for Teachers

She submitted legislation to extend the REPAY Act, which gives teachers a $250 rebate for purchasing supplies for their classrooms.

“This deduction has been extended with bipartisan support for every year since 2002, but was allowed to expire at the end of 2013,” said Shea-Porter. “We owe it to our nation’s educators and our children to ensure that they have the necessary educational tools to succeed.”

Healthcare, Medicare, and Social Security

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter has also been an outspoken advocate for providing affordable healthcare to everyone, and protecting our seniors from the Republican assault on Social Security and Medicare.

“Granite State seniors have earned their Medicare and Social Security benefits through a lifetime of hard work,” Shea-Porter said. “These programs are vital to the retirement security of millions of Americans, and we must protect them for future generations.”

After the news that 40,262 Granite Staters and more than 8 million Americans in total have enrolled in private health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act, Shea-Porter stated:

“I’ve heard from constituents, both Republicans and Democrats, about how the Affordable Care Act has helped them and their families. There are still challenges, but today’s news is confirmation that access to affordable healthcare has improved for New Hampshire families.”

“Everyone in New Hampshire deserves the consumer protections offered by the Affordable Care Act: it ends discrimination against those with preexisting conditions, allows children to stay on parents’ plans up to age 26, and ensures annual and lifetime out-of-pocket limits.” 

Leadership New Hampshire Can Count On

For many years Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter has continued to show her strong leadership skills in and out of Washington.  As a member of Congress, she opposes corporate PAC money and pushes to get the money out of the political process.

Even though right-wing groups routinely attack her, she continues to submit bills to make the Affordable Care Act better. She pushed for Medicaid expansion and worked to expand the coverage of those who purchase healthcare from the ACA Marketplace.

“I (Carol Shea-Poter) advocated for Minuteman to enter the New Hampshire Marketplace to provide competition, and I am delighted that Minuteman will negotiate with any of our hospitals who want to participate on the new healthcare exchange.”

Continuing her efforts to make health insurance more affordable for small businesses, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) joined with two colleagues to introduce the Small Business Tax Credit Accessibility Act (H.R. 4128). This legislation would expand and simplify the Affordable Care Act’s Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit to help more small employers purchase quality, affordable health-insurance policies.

Stick with someone we can trust in Washington.  Someone who has proven herself to be a true fighter for the middle class, and all working families.

“Granite Staters know they can trust Carol,” said Patrick Carroll, Campaign Manager for Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “Voters trust her because she fights for them every day. Carol Shea-Porter has fought to improve the lives of her neighbors in New Hampshire. Whether it’s more jobs, affordable education, access to health care, or protecting Social Security and Medicare, Carol Shea-Porter is the clear champion for New Hampshire families in 2014, and this video shows why.”

VIDEO — “Stand With Me”

#WeLoveCarol — Rep Shea-Porter Files For Reelection!

Smiling Filing PhotoCONCORD, NH – Surrounded by family and a grassroots team sporting homemade #WeLoveCarol stickers, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter filed for reelection to represent New Hampshire’s First Congressional District on Friday morning.

I’m running for Congress because I want all New Hampshire families to have the same opportunities I had: to get good jobs, access health care, own a home, put away some money for retirement, and have a little left over for pizza on Friday night,Shea-Porter said. “For too many, the American dream is slipping away. We need more jobs, workers’ wages are flat, and our tax code favors the wealthiest. But I know America still holds the promise of opportunity for all, and I work for this every day in Congress. I invite all who share that vision to stand with me as we work to restore the American Dream.”

As the first woman ever elected to federal office from New Hampshire, Shea-Porter has a reputation as someone who Granite Staters can trust. She does not accept money from corporate PACs or DC lobbyists, and instead powers her campaign through a grassroots army of supporters.

During her three terms in Congress, Shea-Porter has secured funding for Portsmouth’s Memorial Bridge, brought jobs and infrastructure to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, written and passed legislation to increase CSP Filing PhotoPell Grant funding for college students, helped pass health care reform, expanded services to veterans, and worked with the New Hampshire delegation to help bring the KC-46A tanker to Pease Air Force Base, which will create jobs in New Hampshire.

She has voted to prevent the NSA from spying on average Americans, and as a founding member of the Make it in America Working Group, she has worked to promote U.S. products and support high-wage jobs in New Hampshire. She helped create New Hampshire’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership in Education (AMPEd). Funded by the Recovery Act, AMPEd is allowing New Hampshire community colleges, in partnership with local businesses, to train a skilled manufacturing workforce.

GET THE FACTS: EPA Plan to Cut Carbon Pollution (Via Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter)

Kyndby Powerplant (Image by Peter Madsen Flickr)

Kyndby Powerplant (Image by Peter Madsen Flickr)

WASHINGTON, DC – This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants, the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. The Clean Power Plan proposal will help protect public health and fight climate change by cutting carbon pollution from existing power plants by 30% below 2005 baseline levels by 2030.

“Climate change is real and we’re increasingly seeing its impacts on New Hampshire’s natural resources and our economy,” Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter said. “That’s why New Hampshire’s small businesses support new guidelines to limit the amount of carbon pollution power plants can dump into our environment. These safeguards will protect our health and spur innovation, potentially creating thousands of jobs and making us more energy independent.”

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today released a package of facts, myths, and statistics about the new EPA guidelines. New Hampshire doesn’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment, and these numbers prove it. 

NEW HAMPSHIRE

·         New Hampshire will have flexibility to meet the EPA’s target using the energy sources that work best for our state and by cutting energy waste. New Hampshire has been a leader in efforts to curb harmful emissions, and these rules will help level the playing field by requiring other states to do what New Hampshire has already done.

·         New Hampshire is already experiencing extreme weather. Since 2010, severe weather caused $47 million in property damage. In mountains along the Maine and New Hampshire border, snow depth decreased by 16 percent in recent years, affecting outdoor recreation industries like skiing and snowmobiling and contributing to a decline in moose due to a longer tick season.

·         Combatting carbon pollution will improve Granite Staters’ health, including the 10.2% of New Hampshire adults who suffer from asthma. In New Hampshire, there were over 1,000 hospital admissions for asthma in 2011, with an average charge of close to $12,300 for each stay.

·         Clean energy is already playing a role in New Hampshire’s economy. In New Hampshire, renewable energy generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources increased more than 35 percent since 2009.

·         New Hampshire is already making progress. Between 2008-2011, carbon emissions from the power sector in the Granite State decreased by 25 percent.

NATIONWIDE

Power plants account for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. While there are limits in place for the level of arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution that power plants can emit, there are currently no federal limits on carbon pollution levels. By 2030, the Clean Power Plan will:

·         Cut carbon emission from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels, which is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the United States for one year.

·         Cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent as a co-benefit.

·         Avoid up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work or school days—providing up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits.

·         Shrink electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system.

MYTH vs FACT

MYTH: JOHN BOEHNER: Climate change policies will kill 224,000 jobs and surge electric bills by $17 billion every year.

FACT: We rate his statement False. [Politifact, 6/2/14]

“Boehner said the EPA’s plan to regulate carbon emissions in existing power plants will increase electric bills by ‘$17 billion every year’ and ‘potentially put an average of 224,000 more people out of work every year.’ Those numbers are based on a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study that came out before the EPA announced the regulations on existing power plants.

“That study wrongly assumed the administration would set a benchmark of reducing carbon emissions by 42 percent before 2030. The regulations released June 2 actually put forward a 30 percent reduction within that timeframe. The chamber itself told PolitiFact its estimates are not based on the goals as announced.

“But despite these serious flaws, Boehner used the numbers anyway.”

POLLS

A recent Washington Post – ABC News poll found that the majority of Americans support efforts to reduce carbon emissions:

·         70 percent say the federal government should require limits to greenhouse gases from existing power plants.

·         57 percent of Republicans, 76 percent among independents and 79 percent of Democrats support state-level limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

·         The overall results are closely in line with Post-ABC polling since 2009, where between 65 and 75 percent have supported limits on greenhouse gases from power plants. 

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT

Health organizations, business community leaders, and religious groups are also coming out in support of the EPA’s proposed standard:

·          “A coalition of 176 companies, including Unilever, Mars Inc. and clothing maker VF Corp., sent letters Monday to the Obama administration and congressional leaders to support the administration’s proposal to limit power plant carbon dioxide emissions.” [The Hill, 6/2/14]

·         U.S. Conference of Bishops: “We are pastors in a faith tradition that teaches, as Pope Francis recently stated, ‘Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude.’ The best evidence indicates that power plants are the largest stationary source of carbon emissions in the United States, and a major contributor to climate change.”

·         The American Lung Association: “Power plant pollution makes people sick and cuts short lives. We are pleased to see significant health benefits from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed limits on carbon pollution from power plants, which would reduce the burden of air pollution in America.”

ICYMI

When asked if New Hampshire already had compliance with the EPA rule “in the bag”, state officials said that seems to be the case.

N.H. Likely Has Proposed Carbon Limits ‘In The Bag’
NHPR // Sam Evans-Brown
June 2, 2014

Under a proposed rule out of the EPA Monday, New Hampshire will have to come up with its own plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. However, many of the building blocks for that plan are already in place. 

The new EPA rule says that New Hampshire should emit 486 pounds of carbon per megawatt hour of electricity generated, and that, as of 2012, New Hampshire’s rate was 905 pounds per megawatt hour. 

Mike Fitzgerald with the New Hampshire DES says the 486 pound limit is “sort of akin to a speed limit of miles per hour.” 

That speed limit is more than four times less what comes out of an average coal-fired power plant,  which likely means New England can’t have many of those on-line and meet the new rate.

Responses to the proposed rule came swiftly. The only company that operates coal plants in New Hampshire, Public Service of New Hampshire, said in a statement that while it produced 70 percent less carbon in 2013 compared with 2005, “it may be challenging to grow our success.” Environmental groups like the Clean Air Task Force hailed the rule as “an excellent first bid,” and energy industry groups such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical workers claimed the rule would have far-reaching economic impacts. 

Compliant Already?

New Hampshire will try to figure out if it can get below the speed-limit proposed by the EPA with the variety of programs already underway.

For instance, Fitzgerald says the “ideal situation” would be if by simply pointing to the state’s membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a nine-state carbon cap-and-trade program, the EPA would give the state its approval.

RGGI places a cap on how much carbon dioxide can be emitted by power plays, which Fitzgerald thinks is “more analogous to a limit on the total length you can drive.” DES will have to translate the distance-driven cap into the speed-limit number that the EPA is looking for. 

The EPA also says energy efficiency programs and state renewable energy goals will be considered toward compliance with the proposed rule, though state officials say they are still working out how those factors will be weighed. New Hampshire has both efficiency programs and a “renewable portfolio standard” which says the state will get 25 percent of its energy from renewables by 2025.

When asked if New Hampshire already had compliance with the EPA rule “in the bag”, state officials said that seems to be the case.

New Hampshire will have until 2016 to come up with the plan, and the rule itself won’t be finalized until June of next year.

In National Defense Authorization Act, Shea-Porter Authors Multiple Provisions to Protect Troops and Grow NH’s Economy

NDAA would protect Portsmouth Naval Shipyard by
prohibiting Base Realignment And Closure

WASHINGTON, DC –As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter authored a number of provisions that passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of H.R. 4435, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015. The bill includes language written by Shea-Porter to help provide for a strong national defense, save taxpayers money, and strengthen services for America’s troops. The legislation specifically bars additional rounds of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), which protects the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and also includes a provision to honor the anniversary of the sinking of the U.S.S. Thresher.

“I am pleased that this bill includes many of my provisions that support both America’s national defense and New Hampshire’s economy,” Shea-Porter said.

H.R. 4435 passed 325 – 98 with bipartisan support. The legislation includes a 1.8 percent pay raise for the troops, bars increases in TRICARE costs, protects commissary benefits, and addresses the issue of sexual assault in the military. It also includes a provision barring the use of funds to “propose, plan for, or execute” additional rounds of Base Realignment and Closure, which protects the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter serves on the House Armed Services Committee and wrote multiple key provisions and amendments that passed the House and are detailed below.

PROTECTING TROOPS AND PROVIDING FOR A STRONG NATIONAL DEFENSE

Protecting Troops from Toxic Burn Pits: Shea-Porter continued her work to protect soldiers from toxic waste burned in open-air pits. Last year, Shea-Porter’s Save Our Soldiers’ Lungs Act was signed into law as an amendment to the FY 2014 NDAA. The amendment expanded the list of prohibited waste in open-air burn pits to include toxic material such as munitions, asbestos, tires, mercury, batteries, and aerosol cans.

This year, it was revealed that such prohibited waste was being burned in open-air burn pits from 2011-2013, a clear violation of 2009 law and US Central Command regulations.  Current law requires the burning of toxic wastes to be reported and justified to Congress whenever it occurs, but no such reports were ever filed. We would never allow our families to be exposed to toxic emissions on a daily basis, and the current reporting requirement is clearly not working.

Shea-Porter’s amendment to the FY 2015 NDAA requires combatant commanders to certify every six months that they are not violating the law by disposing of hazardous, medical, and other toxic wastes in open-air burn pits. If they cannot certify compliance, then they are required to report to Congress the justification for non-compliance. The amendment provides increased accountability to protect the health and safety of our military and other personnel during contingency operations.

Disposing of Hazmat Safely: The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has observed serious problems with incinerators at several bases in Afghanistan. Inspectors found that these incinerators, built at a total cost of $21.9 million, could not be used due to poor construction, planning and design, and a lack of coordination between contracts for constructing the incinerators and for operating and maintaining them. This was not only wasteful of taxpayer funds, but exposed troops to continuing unsafe toxic burn pit emissions. To avoid future waste of taxpayer funds, inoperable or unsafe incinerators, and the use of toxic burn pits, Shea-Porter’s language directs the DoD to report to the House Armed Services Committee on the lessons learned related to waste-disposal methods in contingency operations and to update the committee on its assessment of and future plans for waste-disposal technologies.

Protecting Troops from Toxic Smoke: Often serving in sandy and smoky environments, service members are exposed to harmful and toxic airborne matter which may carry pathogens, carcinogens, lead (from gunfire), and infectious diseases. This exposure can harm their health, and troops lack a flexible and wearable system to protect themselves from these inhaled hazards. Troops often resort to using shirts or cloth to cover their faces in dusty or smoky environments. We can’t do much to change the environment in which they operate, but we can develop and provide gear to mitigate these environmental dangers.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter believes that fabric-based solutions could provide a lower-cost, more flexible way for the Army to protect soldiers from some environmental hazards than continued reliance on cumbersome gas mask systems. Last year, Shea-Porter secured language that directed the Secretary of the Army to provide a report, not later than February 15, 2014, evaluating the potential utility of fabric-based solutions to address soldier exposure to inhalation of sand, dust, smoke, and pollutants.

This year, Shea-Porter’s language directs the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) in Natick, Massachusetts, which has technical and scientific expertise in the areas of environmental protection and protective clothing, to undertake this testing. The Secretary of the Army is directed to report to the congressional defense committees not later than December 1, 2014, on NSRDEC’s evaluation of the capabilities of known fabric-based solutions to mitigate soldier exposure to the hazardous effects of inhaling sand, dust, smoke, and pollutants.

Procuring Safe and Reliable Personal Protective Equipment:  We owe our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Special Operations Forces the best equipment at the best price. When we procure personal protective equipment like body armor, combat helmets, combat protective eyewear, or fire resistant clothing, it needs to work well or else lives are at risk. As the Department of Defense budget has decreased, due to sequester cuts and shrinking funding, the use of contracting based on cost-saving methods has increased. But placing the emphasis on cost savings over contractor past performance and technical capabilities for meeting critical and dangerous mission requirements can jeopardize the safety of our troops. Shea-Porter’s amendment requires the Department of Defense, to the maximum extent practicable, to value factors in addition to cost or price over cost or price alone, when procuring items of personal protective equipment, critical safety items, or when the requirement is complex, performance risk is high, or failure to perform has significant consequences.

Submarine Detection Research: One emerging threat to our national defense is that of “stealthy” submarines that can operate covertly in coastal areas of the United States. However, submarines create wakes that can alter the seafloor and leave traces that can be used to identify and track enemy forces. Through advancements in sonar, the United States could track and identify these stealthy submarines and protect our nation. Shea-Porter’s language encourages the Navy to evaluate advanced concepts and technologies for submarine detection.

Honoring the U.S.S Thresher: Shea-Porter’s resolution recognizes the 51st anniversary of the sinking of the U.S.S. Thresher. On April 10, 1963, the U.S.S. Thresher, which was based at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, sank roughly 200 miles off the coast of Cape Cod. All 16 officers, 96 sailors, and 17 civilians perished aboard the nuclear submarine. In response to the loss of the U.S.S. Thresher, the Navy instituted new regulations to ensure the health of submariners and the safety of submarines. Those regulations led to the establishment of the Submarine Safety and Quality Assurance program (SUBSAFE). Since the establishment of SUBSAFE, no SUBSAFE-certified submarine has been lost at sea, which is a legacy owed to the brave individuals who perished aboard the Thresher.

Shea-Porter’s resolution states that the House of Representatives “recognizes the 51st anniversary of the sinking of U.S.S. Thresher; remembers with profound sorrow the loss of U.S.S. Thresher and her gallant crew of sailors and civilians on April 10, 1963; and expresses its deepest gratitude to all submariners on ‘eternal patrol’, who are forever bound together by dedicated and honorable service to the United States of America.”

SAVING TAXPAYERS MONEY AND CREATING JOBS

Supporting Small Business: The Department of Defense has had a program to allow military departments and defense agencies to determine whether comprehensive subcontracting plans would reduce administrative burdens on prime contractors while enhancing opportunities for small business subcontractors. Shea-Porter’s provision extends the program and ensures that the program collects the data necessary to evaluate its effectiveness.

Common Sense Cost-Efficiency: In a world of limited resources, it’s just common sense that the Department of Defense (DoD) requirements for new work should be performed by the most cost-efficient workforce if cost is the sole criterion. Due to law, policy, or risk, many new requirements must be assigned to one of the three DoD workforces (civilian, military, or contractor).  Shea-Porter’s amendment, which would apply when and only when cost is the sole criterion, would require DoD to use its existing methodology to determine which workforce is the most cost-efficient for new work—rather than to rely on informal arrangements or arbitrary decisions—allowing it to reap the savings.

The Department of Defense supported this provision and noted that it would “ensure increased availability of limited fiscal resources for training, modernization, and readiness accounts.”

Preventing Waste and Fraud in Afghanistan:  Last fall, the Department of Defense reported to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) that, as of September 2013, it has committed $4.2 billion and disbursed nearly $3 billion in direct assistance to the Afghan government for the sustainment of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).  SIGAR has identified a number of oversight weaknesses that increase the risk that this direct assistance is vulnerable to waste, fraud, and abuse. Although DoD plans to provide increased amounts of direct assistance, a comprehensive risk assessment has never been conducted by DoD to determine the Afghan government’s fraud risks and develop ways to reduce these risks.

Shea-Porter’s language requires the DoD Inspector General to make a comprehensive risk assessment of the Afghan Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior in order to identify risks and prevent diversion of DoD direct assistance funds through fraud and corruption.

Holding the Afghan Government Accountable: According to a U.S. government audit, the Government of Afghanistan levied almost a billion dollars in taxes on US assistance to Afghanistan since 2008, even though this assistance to Afghanistan is supposed to be exempt from Afghan business taxes. These inappropriate and illegal taxes increase costs to American taxpayers.

Shea-Porter’s language to address the problem of Afghanistan improperly imposing taxes on Department of Defense aid was re-authorized and enhanced this year. First, the amendment requires a report to the congressional defense committees on the amount of taxes assessed the previous year on U.S. defense contractors, subcontractors, and grantees. Secondly, it requires that an amount equivalent to 150% of the total taxes assessed by the Afghan government on that assistance be withheld from funds appropriated for Afghanistan assistance for the succeeding fiscal year to the extent that such taxes have not been reimbursed. This penalty should encourage the Afghan government to cease levying improper taxes, thereby saving taxpayer dollars.

Shea-Porter Announces Manchester Community Health Center Receives $1.5 Million Grant

MANCHESTER, NH – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) is pleased to announce that Manchester Community Health Center will receive a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“I have been proud to support the Manchester Community Health Center over the years, and I am confident that this grant will allow them to continue providing the highest quality health care to Manchester’s working families,” Shea-Porter said. “I am also grateful for the role the Center played in helping New Hampshire citizens obtain health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act. I will continue working with MCHC to ensure more Granite Staters have access to quality, affordable health care.”

MCHC President Kris McCracken said, ”MCHC is extremely grateful to have the continued support of HRSA and HHS for our Federally Qualified Health Center’s two locations of care. The consistent support we’ve received from HRSA has been a foundation of our ability to provide high-quality primary care, prenatal care and support services like counseling, nutrition and interpretation. The New Access Point funding we are now receiving as a part of this grant, supporting our new location at 184 Tarrytown Road, has allowed us to add over 1,500 new patients to our practice in the last 12 months. We are now serving almost 12,000 patients of all ages at our two locations, and we are able to meet the needs of this diverse patient population with our talented staff, including Family Practice, Pediatrics, Obstetrics, Internal Medicine and Podiatry. Recently, our Outreach & Enrollment staff have been able to help almost 2,000 community residents apply for healthcare coverage through the Exchange under the Affordable Care Act. We look forward to continuing to enroll new patients as NH expands access to healthcare coverage. With this continued funding from HHS/HRSA, as well as the funds we receive from several local and state organizations, we will be able to continue to grow the practices and provide more care to the estimated 19,000 individuals in Greater Manchester without a primary care provider or health home.”

The funding from HHS will allow Manchester Community Health Center to continue its operations and services at both its primary care site at 145 Hollis Street and at its New Access Point site at 184 Tarrytown Road, which opened for services in March 2013. Manchester Community Health Center is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) federally qualified health center offering high quality, comprehensive, and family-oriented primary health care and support services since 1993.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter has long supported community health centers and the vital role they play in providing health care to uninsured and underserved populations. This year she received the National Association of Community Health Centers’ Distinguished Community Health Advocate Award. The award was presented by Bi-State Primary Care Association President and CEO Tess Stack Kuenning in a ceremony at the Manchester Community Health center.

Shea-Porter Sends Letter to FCC Chairman Demanding Net Neutrality

Carol Shea Porter Official PhotoWASHINGTON, DC – Ahead of tomorrow’s Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) meeting regarding new Internet speed and pricing policies, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) joined with 35 of her colleagues to send a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler urging strong consumer protections that will prevent anti-competitive behavior and promote innovation.

“As you develop a proposal to oversee access to the Internet, we urge you to adopt strong and enforceable open Internet rules that proactively protect Internet users from unfair practices, including the blockage of lawful traffic or discrimination among content providers by Internet Service Providers,” the letter states.

The letter supports net neutrality, which would prevent Internet service providers, such as Comcast and Verizon, from discriminating against some content providers. It means these Internet service providers shouldn’t be able to create a “two-speed” Internet, where bigger companies pay for faster speeds, or where customers have to pay more to receive quick service.

As the letter continues: “Recognizing our nation’s communications providers as common carriers under the law is common sense. Reclassification would also complement the Commission’s efforts to promote innovation, competition and investment in universally available, reliable and affordable broadband infrastructure. Over one million people have already gone on the record in support of reclassification.”

On Tuesday, Shea-Porter published an Op-Ed in the Union Leader where she noted that “without the guarantee of network neutrality, the Internet superhighway’s rules of the road will favor big tech businesses over newer startups.”

Shea-Porter is a cosponsor of the Open Internet Preservation Act of 2014, a temporary fix to allow the FCC time to rewrite its rules and defend net neutrality.

The text of the letter is below. A PDF with signatures is available at http://1.usa.gov/1mYLx13.

+++

May 14, 2014

The Honorable Thomas Wheeler
Chairman Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC20554

Dear Chairman Wheeler,

As you develop a proposal to oversee access to the Internet, we urge you to adopt strong and enforceable open Internet rules that proactively protect Internet users from unfair practices, including the blockage of lawful traffic or discrimination among content providers by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The rules must preserve the Internet as the open platform that it is today by recognizing our nation’s communications providers as common carriers. Without strong protections, the Internet could devolve into a closed platform in which those who pay the most can overwhelm other views and ideas.

We agree with your previous statements and those from President Obama that expressed similar concerns. ISPs will continue to explore ways to boost revenue by imposing discriminatory charges that will decrease the openness of the Internet. There is ample evidence that protecting the open Internet against such threats is critical for users and businesses alike. However, reports indicate that the current FCC proposal creates an Internet fast lane that would prioritize some Internet traffic and allow ISPs to discriminate against everyone else. The FCC cannot protect the open Internet by allowing discrimination.

We urge the FCC to use its clear authority under Title II of the Communications Act to reclassify the transmission component of broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service.  Recognizing our nation’s communications providers as common carriers under the law is common sense. Reclassification would also complement the Commission’s efforts to promote innovation, competition and investment in universally available, reliable and affordable broadband infrastructure.

Over one million people have already gone on the record in support of reclassification.  We urge the FCC to consider this support for strong, enforceable open Internet rules as it moves forward with the rulemaking process.

Sincerely,

 

CC:      Mignon Clyburn, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission

Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission

Ajit Pai, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission

Michael O’Reilly, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission

Shea-Porter Listens to Seniors, Discusses Affordable Care Act and Importance of Social Security & Medicare in Manchester

image001MANCHESTER, NH – Today, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) joined 35 seniors in Manchester to discuss the Affordable Care Act and answer questions about Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. During the open forum with residents of Birch Hill Terrace, Congresswoman Shea-Porter answered questions about New Hampshire’s ACA Marketplace, how the Affordable Care Act is strengthening Medicare, and how Congress can work to improve the long-term outlook of Social Security.

“Granite State seniors have earned their Medicare and Social Security benefits through a lifetime of hard work,” Shea-Porter said. “These programs are vital to the retirement security of millions of Americans, and we must protect them for future generations.”

In Congress, Shea-Porter has led the fight against reckless schemes to balance the budget on the backs of New Hampshire seniors. Last February, she wrote to President Obama urging him to reject any proposals to cut benefits to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. She has cosponsored the Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013, which would improve benefits for current and future Social Security recipients, extend the life of the Social Security trust fund, and ensure greater economic security for America’s seniors. And she has spoken out against chained CPI and other cuts to benefits that seniors have earned through a lifetime of hard work.

As of December 2012, the average monthly benefit for those receiving Social Security was $1,215. Over the course of a year, this averages out to $14,580. As Shea-Porter reiterated, the idea that we should balance the budget on the backs of seniors relying on less than $15,000 is simply wrong.

Shea-Porter was joined at the forum by Helen Mulligan from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Karol Dermon, from the Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services.

 

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