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Shaheen Seeks Waiver of Reimbursement Policy for Portsmouth Shipyard Workers on Long-Term Assignments

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard 3
(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter seeking a waiver for some Portsmouth Naval Shipyard workers from a Department of Defense (DOD) policy change that has reduced reimbursement allowances for workers during long-term duty assignments. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard employees perform critical work at shipyards around the country and are essential to maintaining the U.S. naval fleet. This reimbursement adjustment could impact shipyard workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard who may have to pay expenses out-of-pocket while traveling and could discourage workers from volunteering for long-term assignments.

“Portsmouth Naval Shipyard workers are in demand for submarine modernization projects around the country,” said Shaheen. “There shouldn’t be a disincentive for shipyard workers to lend their specialized skills on long-term assignments. With some reasonable flexibility from the Department of Defense, we can make sure that willing and able shipyard workers continue to volunteer for these assignments that are important to our national security.”

Last week, Shaheen successfully included a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that would direct the Comptroller General to study the impact of the policy change and gather data to determine if there is a negative impact on shipyard workers who travel on long-term temporary duty assignments.

The letter is also signed by the following Senators: Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Patty Murray (D-WA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Mark Warner (D-VA).  The full text of Shaheen’s letter is included below:

October 05, 2015 

The Honorable Ashton Carter
U.S. Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Dear Secretary Carter, 

We write to express concern regarding the changes made by the Department of Defense (DOD) to per diem allowances for long-term temporary duty (TDY) and the unique impact of these changes on shipyard employees.  While we applaud DOD’s efforts to seek cost efficiencies and understand DOD’s rationale for the reduced long-term TDY rates, the reductions may impact mission in certain circumstances.  For this reason, the Senate included report language in the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act urging DOD to monitor the travel policy change to ensure employees who volunteer for mission essential travel are fully supported and encouraged.  To further address this concern, we request that you consider granting greater waiver authority in circumstances when a traveler is unable to reasonably reduce costs for long-term TDY.  

As you know, DOD made changes to the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) effective November 1, 2014, that include a 25 percent cut to the per diem allowance and the lodging stipend for travel in excess of 30 days, and a 45 percent cut for travel longer than 180 days.  It is our understanding that if a traveler and the commercial travel office are unable to arrange for suitable lodging at the reduced per diem rate, the full lodging rate may be authorized, but the daily rate for meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) remains at the reduced rate. 

Shipyard employees often volunteer for long-term TDY assignments to conduct critical maintenance on the naval fleet at other shipyards and bases, often in high-cost areas.  The efforts of highly skilled shipyard employees ensure our naval fleet is deployed in a safe, affordable and timely manner.  The long-term M&IE reductions could lead to shipyard employees paying for expenses out-of-pocket, which could serve as a disincentive for workers to volunteer for long-term TDY.  Shipyard employees work long shift hours, often precluding these travelers from purchasing groceries and preparing food.  In high-cost areas, lodging with adequately equipped kitchenettes may not be available – increasing M&IE costs. 

That is why it is important that in instances when a traveler is unable to reasonably reduce M&IE costs, the Department should consider providing the approving official with flexibility to waive the reduced M&IE daily per diem rate consistent with the exception already allowed for lodging. 

Thank you for your consideration and your continued distinguished service on behalf of all of our men and women in uniform.


Paul O’Connor Responds to Kasich’s Insulting Comments at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

This week in Portsmouth, Republican John Kasich visited the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and said that the Base Realignment and Closure process keeps shipyard workers “on their toes.” He was quoted in Portsmouth Herald as saying, “I think the concern about base closings and BRAC makes everyone more efficient…(It) keeps everyone on their toes.” 

Paul O’Connor, President of Metal Trades Council of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard wrote the following letter in response, published in the Portsmouth Herald.

Gov. Kasich’s Comments Disappointing and Insulting

Portsmouth Herald

To the Editor:

I accompanied Governor Kasich on his tour of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Sept 8, 2015 and I feel compelled to make the following statement after the visit.

Governor Kasich’s remarks that base closures keep workers “on their toes” is disappointing and insulting. The remarks are disappointing because after a visit to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, he was clearly not paying attention. And they’re insulting because the idea that threats of facility closure create efficiencies at the worksite is preposterous and misses the point. Fear, threats, and intimidation in a workplace are counter-productive and, over the long-term, cause both physical and emotional harm to worker, to add to performance degradation.

Kasich’s statement is a slap in the face to the thousands of men and women that work at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the thousands that are impacted by the Department of Defense’s Base Closure process. These skilled men and women live in fear of a base closing that would put them out of their jobs and out of their homes. John Kasich’s remarks insult every one of them. These are not the words of a leader, but they should be a dire warning for all working men and women across our nation should Governor Kasich become the Republican nominee.

The way to create efficiencies in any work environment is through workforce engagement, not flippant, arrogant remarks that lead to fear and intimidation. Listen to the men and women doing the work. Create a work environment based on trust and respect. This is our goal at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. This is our vision, our Declaration.

The performance of those at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is unmatched in both the public and private sectors in the business of Nuclear Submarine repair, maintenance, and modernization. Our cultural and business maturity should be the template for all industry.

Paul O’Connor

President, Metal Trades Council

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Senators Ayotte, Shaheen Praise Paul O’Connor And Workers At Portsmouth Naval Shipyard


Senator Ayotte and Paul O’Connor at Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee hearing. Image from Senator Ayotte

In a Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee hearing she chaired today, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) continued her longstanding advocacy for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) and highlighted the shipyard’s best practices as a model for the Department of Defense and other federal agencies.

As Chair, Ayotte invited Paul O’Connor, President of the Metal Trades Council at PNSY to testify about shipyard best practices at PNSY, how they affect performance, and how they can be effectively shared with other shipyards. The hearing was particularly focused on new training techniques, efficiency initiatives, management and labor cooperation, apprentice programs, and the role of shipyards in sustaining naval readiness.

“Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is the Navy’s center of excellence for fast attack nuclear-powered submarine maintenance, modernization, and repair. That is more than just words. The skilled and dedicated workers at Portsmouth have proven it with their performance and their consistent track record of completing projects ahead of schedule and under budget,” Ayotte said.

Mr. O’Connor’s career spans 40 years as a federal employee at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, where he worked 25 years in the trades as a journeyman electrician performing maintenance and modernization work on submarines. For the past 12 years, he has served as President of the Metal Trades Council, representing the 2,500 tradesmen and women at the shipyard.

“What we’re doing at Portsmouth [Naval Shipyard] is truly listening to our workforce. We want their ideas – the men and women at the job site… At our Shipyard, there are about 6,000 men and women….The most important thing we’ve done at our shipyard, since we’ve begun these initiatives in 2010, is listen to our workforce… None of what you will hear today would have happened had we not listened to the workforce – it’s that important to us,” O’Connor said. “And, I’ve already said it, we can accomplish so much more when we work together. Again, it sounds so simple, but it’s so easy to find reasons or excuses to not work together or to not listen to someone. And we’re trying to work past that at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.”

As Chair of the Senate Armed Services Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee which oversees shipyards, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), and military construction, Senator Ayotte has been a steadfast advocate for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and its dedicated workforce. In addition to playing a major role in authorizing funding for necessary infrastructure projects at the shipyard, Senator Ayotte has used her position on the Armed Services Committee to push for the acquisition of two Virginia Class Submarines each year, instead of only one. Her successful efforts will help mitigate a looming shortfall in attack submarines that threatens our national security and will ensure the workers at Portsmouth are fully utilized for years to come-making the shipyard less susceptible to a future Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round, which she has consistently opposed and successfully blocked for 2017 in the Senate-passed defense bill.

In order to highlight PNSY’s top performance and secure the shipyard’s future, Ayotte has also led successful efforts in recent years to bring senior DoD officials to the shipyard – including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, in July 2013; now-Admiral and Vice Chief of Naval Operations Michelle Howard in April 2014; and the Commander of Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, in April 2015.

Click here to see Senator Ayotte’s opening remarks.

Below is the video of  Paul O’Connor’s opening remarks.

During the hearing, Senator Jeanne Shaheen praised the work of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard employees for their contribution to national security, their success in making energy efficiency improvements and for recently receiving the Secretary of the Navy’s excellence in environmental stewardship award.  She questioned Paul O’Connor, President of the Metal Trades Council at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, about the impact automatic federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, has on shipyard employee hiring, retention and morale. You can watch their exchange here.

Later in her questioning, Senator Shaheen asked the witnesses to also comment on the difficulties they run into in trying to hire qualified graduates educated in science, technology, engineering and math, and the impact sequestration has in attracting those graduates.  Mr. O’Connor talked of the difficulties of hiring these kinds of employees when funds for employee outreach and hiring gets zeroed-out to accommodate budget cuts.

Defense Bill Includes Shaheen, Ayotte Priorities To Strengthen Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Bill authorizes funding for KC-46A, two Virginia Class submarines, and facilities construction at Pease 

(Washington, DC)- U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced today that the negotiated version of the fiscal year (FY) 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes provisions championed by the senators that will strengthen Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Pease Air National Guard Base. The annual defense bill includes provisions Shaheen and Ayotte fought for that authorize funding for the KC-46A aerial refueling tankers, the procurement of two Virginia Class submarines, as well as modernization and upgrades to the Pease Air National Guard Base and energy conservation projects at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  As Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Armed Services Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee, Shaheen and Ayotte also opposed the Administration’s request for another Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round.

“The annual defense bill we’ve agreed upon both supports our national security and makes targeted investments in New Hampshire that will benefit jobs and the economy,” Shaheen said. “New Hampshire has always played an important role in the security of the United States. Support for the KC-46 at Pease and the procurement of Virginia Class submarines will keep the Granite State at the forefront of our national defense.”

“This bipartisan legislation includes important measures to support military readiness and provide our troops with the equipment and resources they need,” said Ayotte. “I’m especially pleased that this bill addresses key priorities at the shipyard and Pease – including authorizing funding for important projects at Pease to prepare for the arrival of the KC-46A, as well as the production of two Virginia class submarines which, with the help of the skilled workers at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, will protect vital shipping lanes and U.S. national security interests around the world for decades to come.  These measures will help ensure that Portsmouth and Pease remain invaluable national security assets.”

The NDAA authorizes full funding for the KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling tanker program. The new tankers will replace the Air Force’s current fleet of 1950’s era KC-135s, and Pease – home to the New Hampshire Air National Guard’s 157th Air Refueling Wing – is slated to be the first Air National Guard unit to receive the next generation tanker in fiscal year 2018. The bill also authorizes funding for infrastructure upgrades and facilities construction at Pease Air National Guard Base in preparation for receiving the KC-46A air refueling tanker. Shaheen and Ayotte have advocated for Pease to receive the tanker since 2011, and last year, they announced that the Air Force had designated Pease as the first Air National Guard unit to receive the KC-46A.

In addition, the bill authorizes the procurement of two Virginia Class submarines in FY2015 and provides advanced procurement funding for two boats in FY2016. Shaheen and Ayotte have touted Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s superior record of performing fast attack submarine maintenance, modernization, and repair under budget and ahead of schedule, and they have advocated for investments in the Navy’s attack submarine fleet, which remains one of the most important assets for the Department of Defense.

Last Thursday, the House of Representatives approved the National Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 300 to 119.  The Senate is expected to take up the legislation as soon as this week.

Shea-Porter Visits Portsmouth Naval Shipyard with Vice President Biden

BidenPORTSMOUTH, NH – Today, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter visited and toured the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) with Vice President Joe Biden.  Senator Shaheen, Congressman Mike Michaud, and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree also participated in today’s event.  Captain William Greene, Commander of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Paul O’Connor, President of the Metal Trades Council, and other shipyard management and labor leaders hosted the Vice President and the delegation members.

“I was very pleased that the Vice President had the opportunity to see the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard today.  The incredible workforce is a model of excellence. The work they do is vital to our national defense and our local economy,” Shea-Porter said. “I am proud to serve on the House Armed Services Committee, where I will continue to work to protect the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and its essential defense mission.”

Congresswoman Shea-Porter has worked to protect New Hampshire’s economy and PNSY workers from the reckless budget cuts of sequestration. She cosponsored legislation that would cancel sequestration, she held meetings with Shipyard leaders, and she spoke directly with the Secretary of Defense about furloughs at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

This year, Shea-Porter also passed legislation through the House of Representatives that ensures the Department of Defense 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.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is one of four public shipyards in the United States. In 2010, Shea-Porter secured more than $11.9 million in funding for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to add to and reconstruct the Shipyard’s Structural Shops, which will help the Shipyard remain competitive and efficient.

In Portsmouth, Shaheen Showcases Shipyard, Affirms Commitment To Workers

During Vice President’s trip to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Shaheen emphasizes opposition to base closures 

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) this morning joined officials from New Hampshire and Maine in showcasing the vital contributions of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to the New England economy and national security during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden. Shaheen, a longtime and vocal advocate for the shipyard and its workers, used the opportunity to reiterate her strong opposition to the administration’s base closure recommendations and highlight the important ongoing work at the base.

“The shipyard is an indispensable national security asset and economic engine that’s home to some of the most talented and dedicated workers in the country,” Shaheen said. “I think after today’s visit, it was quite evident that there is exceptional work being done at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and that we should do everything we can to protect our shipyard and its workers.”

“I will continue to use my position as chair of the Senate Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee to block the administration’s base closure recommendations because I know that’s what’s best for our national security, our shipyard workers and our economy.”

As Chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, Shaheen, along with the subcommittee’s ranking member Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), has jurisdiction over Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) proposals in addition to military readiness responsibilities including training, logistics, military construction, and maintenance. Shaheen has repeatedly blocked the administration’s BRAC requests and has worked closely with bipartisan New Hampshire and Maine lawmakers to support the continued procurement of two new Virginia-class submarines in addition to new military construction at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter Tours The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Meets with Navy leaders and workers to discuss improvements to the Shipyard, challenges of sequestration, and how the National Defense Authorization Act protects PNSY from base closure

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) tours the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s new learning centers

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) tours the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s new learning centers

PORTSMOUTH, NH – As part of her commitment to national defense and good local jobs,yesterday Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) toured the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) to discuss challenges facing the Yard, improvements made to the Shipyard’s facilities, and how the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act protects PNSY from base closure. Shea-Porter was joined on the tour by Captain William Greene, Commander of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Paul O’Connor, President of the Metal Trades Council, and other shipyard management and labor leaders.

“The hard work done by the men and women of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is vital to our national defense and our local economy,” Shea-Porter said. “I’m proud to represent New Hampshire on the House Armed Services Committee, and I will continue to work to protect the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.”

Along the tour, Shea-Porter visited new learning centers with mockups that help workers learn and practice their skills before transitioning to work on nuclear submarines. The learning centers and other initiatives save the Yard over $5 million per year and help make PNSY more efficient. Leaders also spoke about the challenges associated with sequestration and the inclusive, value-based approach they have adopted to increase workforce efficiency and engagement in the face of furloughs and pay freezes.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter has worked to protect New Hampshire’s economy and PNSY workers from the reckless budget cuts of sequestration. She cosponsored legislation that would cancel sequestration, she held meetings with Shipyard leaders, and she spoke directly with the Secretary of Defense about furloughs at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. For more information on Shea-Porter’s efforts to stop sequestration, click here.

This year, Shea-Porter also passed legislation through the House of Representatives that ensures the Department of Defense 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 Shipyard leaders and workers thanked Shea-Porter for her focus on this issue as it would give the Yard more flexibility.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is one of four public shipyards in the United States. In 2010, Shea-Porter secured more than $11.9 million in funding for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to add to and reconstruct the Shipyard’s Structural Shops, which will help the Shipyard remain competitive and efficient.

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”

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 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.”


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.

NEW TV AD: Jeanne Shaheen Puts New Hampshire First

Shaheen Makes a Difference for New Hampshire

Concord, NH – The Shaheen Campaign’s newest television spot is about how Jeanne Shaheen puts New Hampshire’s priorities first in the U.S. Senate. Running 30-seconds, the spot is set to begin airing on Wednesday, May 28th and features examples of where and how Jeanne Shaheen is making a difference in New Hampshire, including in Berlin, Manchester, Portsmouth and southern New Hampshire.

“Jeanne Shaheen‘s leadership brings people together around common sense solutions, breaking gridlock to get things done,” said Campaign Manager Mike Vlacich. “As our Senator, she’s fought for the Manchester Job Corps Center, Portsmouth’s Memorial Bridge, widening of I-93, and to open the Berlin Prison to create jobs and strengthen our economy.”

New Hampshire elected Jeanne Shaheen the first and only woman in American history to serve as both a Governor and U.S. Senator.  In the Senate, she works across the aisle to make a difference for New Hampshire.

“Jeanne Shaheen has deep roots here and it shows,” added Vlacich. “From Pelham to Pittsburg, and Hanover to Hampton, her work to make a difference for the people of New Hampshire is visible all across our state.”

The new 30-second television spot features Portsmouth Naval Shipyard worker Paul O’Connor, Mayor Paul Grenier of Berlin, Joyce Cappiello of Barrington, Mary Carey Foley of Portsmouth, Mike Cook of North Hampton, Nickie Mattia of Manchester, and Eddie DeBlois of Milan.

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