Governor Hassan And NH Employment Security Launch Operation VETS Connect

Initiative Creates 100-Day Challenge to Employers to Incorporate or Expand Veteran Hiring Initiatives

CONCORD – In order to support New Hampshire’s veterans and help ensure that they have the employment opportunities that they deserve, Governor Maggie Hassan and New Hampshire Employment Security (NHES) Commissioner George Copadis today launched Operation VETS Connect, an initiative aimed at building on current efforts to support veteran hiring in New Hampshire.

Operation VETS Connect creates a 100-day challenge to New Hampshire employers to incorporate or expand upon established veteran hiring initiatives. The challenge runs from September 2 to December 10, and it will promote a greater awareness of veterans, the unique skills that they bring to the workforce and the benefits employers obtain in hiring them.

“Our veterans sacrifice bravely in defense of our freedoms, and they have the character, experience and work ethic to be an asset for any employer,” Governor Hassan said. “They represent the very best of our state’s deep talent pool, possessing a wide variety of transferrable skills proven in real-world situations, including leadership, collaboration and the ability to focus on and achieve defined objectives. Operation VETS Connect is an exciting initiative that will help strengthen our civilian workforce and our economy while ensuring that all of our veterans have access to the employment opportunities that they deserve.”

“New Hampshire Employment Security is committed to supporting veteran employment, and we are proud to launch Operation VETS Connect, an important initiative that will enhance current efforts to support veteran hiring in the Granite State,” NHES Commissioner George Copadis said.

As part of Operation VETS Connect, NHES will continue to host veteran-specific job fairs. The state will also send out notices to employers about the benefits of hiring veterans and provide resources to veterans to assist with resume writing and other tips for a successful job search.

In addition, referrals or funding may be available through state agencies for training opportunities such as the Return to Work and On-the-Job Training (OJT) programs, apprenticeships and programs through NH Works. For OJT specifically, up to $500,000 may be available.

Employers with a federal tax identification number and who hire New Hampshire veterans are eligible to participate in Operation VETS Connect. In order to participate, employers must register in the New Hampshire Job Match System (JMS), share job announcements with the local American Job Center and complete a job fair registration form.

Participating employers are encouraged to attend NHES-sponsored job fairs or host a hiring-recruitment event. They also agree to consider veteran applicants and their unique skills, to work with NHES to identify areas to help better prepare denied applicants to enter the workforce and to respond to all resumes and applications received from veterans.

Veteran job seekers must visit their local American Job Center, register in JMS, attend local NHES job fairs and make a good faith effort to strengthen their documentation and presentation to employers of relevant skills and experience.

At the end of the 100-day challenge, employers will be recognized for their participation. For more information about NHES job fairs and events, visit http://www.nhes.nh.gov/media/job-fairs/.

Scott Brown Takes Big Money From A Company That Outsources American Jobs, Locals Discuss

New Hampshire Leaders Discuss Scott Brown’s Role On Board Of Outsourcing Company and Record Of Supporting Breaks For Companies That Offshore U.S. Jobs

Brown Is Cashing In Again, Collecting Quarter Of A Million Dollars On Board Of Outsourcing Company At The Expense Of NH Economy

Manchester – Today, following reports that Scott Brown is lining his own pockets with more than a quarter of a million dollars from a company that outsourced American jobs, New Hampshire economic leaders and elected officials spoke on a conference call about why Brown’s role on the company’s board of directors makes him wrong for New Hampshire. Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier, former DRED Commissioner George Bald, and Nashua State Senator Bette Lasky discussed the negative impact outsourcing has had on local economies in New Hampshire as well as Scott Brown’s record of voting to protect tax breaks for companies that offshore jobs when he was Massachusetts’ U.S. Senator.

“I was really disappointed to find out that Kadant’s focus really is not on creating jobs in New Hampshire or in this country, and that outsourcing is a major part of its business plan,” said former Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner George Bald. “I know what Senator Shaheen has accomplished and when you look at that accomplishment it’s pretty significant in terms of creating good jobs. And as far as what Mr. Brown has done for the state of New Hampshire, it is a blank sheet of paper.”

“It’s not only that Scott Brown is profiting from this outsourcing company, but in his first year in Massachusetts as Senator, he voted to protect tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas,” said Nashua State Senator Bette Lasky. “In New Hampshire we value leaders who invest in our state’s economy and believe in our workforce. Scott Brown is wrong for New Hampshire and the people of New Hampshire deserve better.”

“There’s the politics of watching outsourcing and then the living of outsourcing,” said Paul Grenier, Mayor of Berlin. “Over the course of one generation Berlin has lost over 3800 manufacturing jobs. That’s the end result of some of the policies Scott Brown supported and I could never support him. I’ve worked closely with Senator Shaheen on a number of issues and I could tell you that protecting and creating jobs in the North Country has been of paramount importance to her.”

On Sunday, the Nashua Telegraph reported that Scott Brown has collected more than a quarter of a million dollars as a member of the board of directors of Kadant, Inc., a company based in Westford Massachusetts that touts its outsourcing of American jobs to China and Mexico. Brown’s involvement with the company fits his record from when he was a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts and voted to protect tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.

This isn’t the first time Scott Brown has been caught cashing in on his Senate candidacy and selling his reputation as a former Senator. This past spring, Brown was caught collecting $20,000 at a Las Vegas hedge fund conference.  Separately, Brown was forced to resign from a beauty supply company turned weapons manufacturer that was paying him $1.3 million in stock options as an advisor, and whose executives had been sued for fraud.

As New Hampshire’s Governor and U.S. Senator, Jeanne Shaheen has worked to spur investment in New Hampshire’s economy and create new jobs.  Her support for Trade Adjustment Assistance grants supported the development of advanced manufacturing training programs that helped workers who had lost their jobs because of foreign competition.  Those job retraining programs have been cited by New Hampshire businesses as a reason they chose to locate, and create jobs, in the Granite State.

Congresswoman Annie Kuster Hosts Roundtable on Rural Jobs in Plainfield

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Kuster hears from Eric Johnson and Steve Patten from the NH Timberland Owner’s Association, and Greta Johansson from the Small Business Administration

Plainfield, NH – Today Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) convened a group of local business owners, farmers, and agricultural leaders for a roundtable discussion on how Congress can best support job creation and the region’s rural economy. During the discussion, which took place at Edgewater Farm in Plainfield, Kuster heard directly from New Hampshire leaders in agriculture, forestry, and rural-based businesses, who shared their thoughts on how Congress can help stimulate economic growth in New Hampshire’s many rural communities. Representatives from the USDA and the New England Farmers Union, among others, joined Kuster in sharing information with roundtable participants about the federal and state resources available to rural businesses to help them grow, and ways to spread information about these programs.

“As the first New Hampshire Representative to serve on the Agriculture Committee in 70 years, it was great to hear directly from such a knowledgeable group of farmers and rural leaders about the challenges facing the Granite State’s rural communities,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Since I took office, I have made creating jobs and opportunity for Granite Staters my number one priority, and I am committed to doing everything I can to help the agriculture and forestry industries and all of the Granite State’s rural businesses flourish. Thank you to today’s participants for sharing your expertise and ideas, and I’m looking forward to our continued partnership to work on behalf of New Hampshire’s rural communities.”

The participants discussed a range of topics that impact businesses and farms in rural areas across the Granite State, including regulatory relief and the role of local energy sources. Congresswoman Kuster also outlined the many programs aimed to help rural communities that were contained in the Farm Bill, legislation critical to New Hampshire’s agricultural community that she helped pass in February 2014.

 Congresswoman Kuster is the first New Hampshire Representative to serve on the Agriculture Committee in over 70 years, and is a member of the Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry. She represents the New Hampshire’s 2nd District, which covers the western and northern parts of the state and includes most of the rural land in the Granite State.

AFT Hails Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Law

WASHINGTON—Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on President Obama’s signing of the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act:

“Career and technical education programs provide incredibly important pathways to success. The bipartisan bill that President Obama signed today extends the ladder of opportunity to middle-class Americans by providing the guidance, skills and training needed to compete for good 21st-century jobs. The law will help young people, the disabled, the long-term unemployed and those barely getting by on hourly wages to become economically self-sufficient.

“The workforce law provides a blueprint for the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act, which has been a lifeline for job training opportunities and focuses on career and technical education programs and collaborative partnerships among employers, communities, schools and labor. We hope that as Congress works on the Perkins reauthorization, it provides much-needed funding for guidance counselors, who can help students explore career options as they contemplate their futures.

“I have witnessed how great career and technical education high schools change lives, such as New York City’s Aviation High School; New York City’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or P-Tech, which has IBM and the City College of New York as core partners; and the Toledo (Ohio) Technology Academy, whose partners include the United Auto Workers union. The Albert Shanker Institute and the AFT have been stalwart advocates of career and technical education programs, and we will continue our efforts to help high-quality CTE programs flourish to create innovative pathways to a high school diploma and college and career readiness.”

AFT Pres. Weingarten Announces $10 Billion Investment in Infrastructure and Workforce

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Partnership Fulfills Promise Two Years Early

DENVER—Statement of American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on the announcement that the $10 billion Investment and Training for American Infrastructure commitment, made at CGI America 2011 by the AFT, the AFL-CIO, North America’s Building Trades Unions, and others, has been met two years ahead of schedule:

“At a time when we have an urgent need to invest in our nation’s infrastructure and Congress has been unwilling to act, I am proud to announce that the labor movement and our pension funds have stepped up—we have secured more than $10 billion to invest in America’s crumbling infrastructure, creating tens of thousands of good middle-class jobs from the money already deployed. Labor’s pension funds can be a powerful economic engine by investing in U.S. infrastructure, creating good jobs and providing sustainable returns for investors. This shows what can happen when creative and innovative thinking is applied to America’s most pressing challenges. Not only are union members committed to providing vital public services to communities across the country, we are equally committed to helping create jobs and rebuild America.”

“I am proud to partner with President Bill Clinton, Sean McGarvey, Richard Trumka, Lee Saunders and others as we address the nation’s soaring infrastructure needs by investing public pension funds in infrastructure projects that deliver solid returns. With the leadership of pension funds like CalSTRS, $3 billion has already been deployed to rebuild roads like the Presidio Parkway in San Francisco, fund new construction like the Long Beach, Calif., courthouse, and seed new investments like Pennsylvania’s Duquesne Light power company.”

“I want to thank Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers; Scott Stringer, the comptroller of New York City; Sharon Hendricks, investment chair of CalSTRS; and other leaders and trustees who have seen this potential and contributed to this effort.”

“Of the total commitment, $7 billion has yet to be invested, which will create an additional 150,000 good jobs and contribute $10.7 billion to our nation’s gross domestic product. And with federal infrastructure spending at a 20-year low, we know that this investment is sorely needed.”

“Unions represent the backbone of the American workforce and economy—lifting people out of poverty and helping to create a middle class. We are contributing to the resurgence of the middle class. Nurses, teachers and firefighters across the country are creating good jobs by leveraging their pension assets and driving investment in America.”

To learn more about how this commitment was met, click here.

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”

Senator Shaheen Cites Dire Need For Transportation Funding To Spur Economic Growth

At Northeast Association of State Transportation Officials 2014 Conference, Shaheen highlights importance of transportation program funding to New Hampshire

(Portsmouth, NH) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) this morning addressed the 2014 Northeast Association of State Transportation Officials (NASTO) conference where she highlighted the dire need to maintain funding for the Highway Trust Fund so that critical transportation infrastructure projects are not delayed in New Hampshire. Shaheen was joined by Chris Clement Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and President of NASTO as well as other Northeast transportation officials including Ted Zoli, National Bridge Chief Engineer with HNTB Corporation, who was responsible for designing the new Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth.

“Improving our transportation infrastructure is critical to continued economic growth and job creation here in New Hampshire,” Shaheen said. “We must maintain funding for the Highway Trust Fund so that we don’t see delays to important projects such as the widening of I-93 and other investments in New Hampshire’s infrastructure. I’ll continue to work to make sure that our state has the federal resources necessary to maintain the transportation infrastructure needed to compete in the 21st century.”

Shaheen has been vocal about the need to maintain New Hampshire’s transportation infrastructure for both public safety and economic competitiveness. She worked with the New Hampshire and Maine congressional delegations to obtain funding for the replacement of the Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth and has repeatedly called for the replacement of the Sewalls Falls Bridge in Concord. She has also fought against cuts to the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Return (TIGER) program which encourages economic activity and jobs in New Hampshire through important infrastructure investments. Earlier this year, she introduced the Strengthen and Fortify Existing Bridges Act of 2014 (SAFE Bridges Act) which would establish a program to provide funding specifically dedicated to repair and replace aging and deteriorating bridges.

Unfair Trade Policies Lead To More American Jobs Lost

Vacant steel mill outside Detroit. (image by Jo Guldi on Flickr)

Vacant steel mill outside Detroit. (image by Jo Guldi on Flickr)

There are few things as heartbreaking than hearing that more steelworkers are being laid off. It is not that America does not need new steel, it is foreign manufacturers that are undercutting the American steel industry. This dramatic increase in foreign imports is causing American manufacturers to cut more jobs.

The Economic Policy Institute just released a new report showing how the vast increase in foreign steel is damaging American workers.

“Surging imports of unfairly traded steel are threatening U.S. steel production, which supports more than a half million U.S. jobs across every state of the nation. The import surge has depressed domestic steel production and revenues, leading to sharp declines in net income in the U.S. steel industry over the past two years (2012–2013), layoffs for thousands of workers, and reduced wages for many more.”

Yesterday U.S. Steel announced plans to halt tube operations in Pennsylvania and Texas, which will lead to an indefinite furlough for 265 workers.

“For months, our union (The United Steelworkers) has warned the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Trade Representative, the public and others that a flood of illegally subsidized and unfairly traded oil country tubular goods (OCTG) poses a significant and immediate threat to American steel companies and the jobs of our members,” said USW President Leo Gerard.

The EPI estimates that over “583,600 steel-related jobs are at risk if the U.S. does not fully and effectively enforce its trade remedy laws.” The importing of foreign steel has “increased from 28.5 million net tons in 2011 to 32.0 million net tons in 2013, an increase of 12.3 percent.”

Why is this happening?Why is the country that led the world in steel production now taking a back seat to these foreign suppliers?


“The USW demands an immediate investigation into how a trade partner such as South Korea, which produces 100 percent of its steel tubular goods for export because it has no domestic market, has managed to conduct business here without regulation or any kind of fair tariff in place,” Gerard stated.

The importing of foreign manufactured steel is only one piece of the problem that has led to the destruction of millions of American jobs. Our trade policies have led to the erosion of our pay, and have pushed up our national debt.

The problem is that we as a nation are buying more than we are selling, and this is causing a $540 billion dollar trade deficit.

Foreign manufacturers play games with their currency to undercut their competitors. Currency manipulation and slave wages are how these countries are able to charge less for their products. They have rigged the game so badly that it is almost impossible for Americans to win.

For the sake of our entire manufacturing base we must put a stop to the unbalanced trade, and currency manipulation.

“For the workers and families in McKeesport, Pa. and Bellville, Texas, the USW pledges to continue fighting for a fair and level playing field so that American workers can get back to their rightful jobs as soon as possible,” Gerard stated.

“The USW will continue to be an outspoken advocate for workers who have paid and continue to pay the price for unfair ‘free’ trade, which remains the single most dangerous threat to the good, family-supporting, community-sustaining jobs the USW strives to create and protect,” concluded Gerard.

Programs like NAFTA, and the proposed TPP, are exactly what is hurting the American worker. We need to stop the hemorrhaging now, before it gets worse. Restoring our trade balance and reducing our trade deficit would create upwards of five million new jobs.

We talk about a global economy, however it seems we are the only ones buying.  Always remember; support American workers, buy American.

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.