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 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.

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.

Shaheen Highlights Opposition to Administration’s Base Realignment and Closure Proposal at Armed Services Subcommittee Hearing

Shaheen: White House BRAC Proposal Would Weaken National Security, New Hampshire Economy

(Washington, DC) – Citing the proposal’s potential impact on national security and New Hampshire’s economy, this morning U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reiterated her strong opposition to the White House’s request for a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round in 2017.  While chairing the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support this morning, Shaheen also highlighted the Defense Department’s failure to explain the cost of the last BRAC round as another reason to avoid another round in 2017; according to nonpartisan experts, the 2005 BRAC round exceeded initial cost estimates by $14 billion.  The administration’s BRAC proposal could prove to be particularly consequential for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard which is home to thousands of New Hampshire jobs.

“Our national security, our shipyard, and our economy in New Hampshire would suffer if we had another round of base closures at this time,” said Shaheen after the hearing. “I’ll do everything in my power as Chair of the Readiness Subcommittee to oppose the Administration’s BRAC proposal.”

In written testimony submitted for the committee’s record, Shaheen also added, “I do not believe the Department has adequately explained how the significant cost growth we saw in the 2005 BRAC round would be avoided this time around or made sufficient progress in reducing infrastructure overseas, particularly in Europe.”

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), have jurisdiction over BRAC proposals in addition to military readiness responsibilities including training, logistics, military construction, and maintenance.

Bipartisan Spending Bill Will Promote Economic Growth, Includes Key NH Measures

Bill to fund government restores COLA funding for disabled veterans, includes $75 million for fishery disaster relief, investments in Shipyard

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) announced today that the bipartisan appropriations bill unveiled last night will both promote economic growth and include many key measures she has championed in recent months. The legislation will specifically keep the government funded through Fiscal Year 2014, repeal many of the reckless sequester budget cuts, and promote job creation and economic growth.

The bill builds on the bipartisan budget agreement passed in December and makes investments in many New Hampshire priorities, including:

  • Disaster relief funding for New England fisherman
  • A fix to a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for disabled veterans
  • Military construction resources for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
  • Resources to complete the activation of the Federal Corrections Institution (FCI) in Berlin
  • Funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

The legislation also rolls back wasteful spending including taxpayer funded expenditures on oil paintings of public officials. Senators Shaheen and Tom Coburn (R-OK) drew attention to this waste of taxpayer dollars by introducing bipartisan legislation last year designed to cut these expenditures. The legislation also requires all federal agencies to become better stewards of taxpayer dollars by implementing mandatory 10 percent cuts to overhead costs and by investing in Inspectors General offices as Shaheen has fought for. This effort will help agencies better identify waste and cut spending through audits and oversight.

“This bipartisan appropriations bill makes strategic investments in our economy that will help create jobs while also preventing another government shutdown and repealing some of the sequester cuts that hurt economic growth,” Shaheen said. “Now we have to keep up the bipartisan momentum to pass this bill and additional job-creating measures.”

The appropriations bill, negotiated by the House and Senate, includes a partial fix to COLA adjustments in order to protect disabled veterans. Last month Shaheen introduced the Military Retirement Restoration Act to protect all future military retirees from the COLA cuts passed in a bipartisan budget agreement in December. Shaheen’s legislation would restore the cuts and replace the savings by eliminating a tax loophole for American corporations that use offshore tax havens, a move that would generate an estimated $6.6 billion in savings.

“This bill also takes a good step toward correcting the cuts to military retiree benefits,” Shaheen said. “I hope we can continue in this direction and vote on my plan to restore all of the adjustments as soon as possible on behalf of the people who have served our country.”

The funding package also invests in New Hampshire defense priorities, authorizing $1.6 billion toward the continued development of the new KC-46A aerial refueling tanker to be based at Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire as well as $11.5 million for new military construction at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. In addition, the bill funds the Beyond Yellow Ribbon Program, which connects servicemen and women and their families with community support, training, and other services, at $13 million. Also included in the package is funding for the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which will help modernize the way the U.S. meets challenges posed by the spread of weapons of mass destruction, at $500 million.

“New Hampshire plays an important role in our national defense and this bill rightfully makes strategic investments to support our shipyard, our economy, and our men and women in uniform,” said Shaheen, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support.

Additional measures included in the funding bill are $75 million toward fishery disaster relief, $3.425 billion for LIHEAP, and $6.9 billion to the Bureau of Prisons, which is sufficient to complete the activation of the Berlin Prison that is expected to create 340 local jobs and provide a $40 million economic boost to Northern New Hampshire.

Shaheen has repeatedly advocated for Congress to support New Hampshire fishermen and other states affected by declining fish populations and consequent economic losses by authorizing disaster relief.

“Fishing is one of our state’s oldest industries and remains a critical engine of our economy,” said Shaheen. “The resources in this bill will provide necessary support for fishermen and coastal communities who are struggling during difficult times.”

Funding for LIHEAP in this bill is a $169 million increase from FY 2013 levels, for a total of $3.425 billion. The program helps seniors and low income households in New Hampshire with home heating costs and has become particularly critical in recent years as the struggling U.S. economy and high energy prices and reduced LIHEAP funding have forced more Americans to go without this critical assistance. Shaheen has been a strong supporter of LIHEAP throughout her time in the Senate and was recently part of a successful bipartisan effort to encourage Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to expedite the release of LIHEAP funds, allowing those in need to receive assistance as soon as possible.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter Meets with Paul O’Connor (Shipyard Metal Trades Council) to Discuss Continuing Effects of Sequestration

This afternoon, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) met with Paul O’Connor, President of the Shipyard Metal Trades Council, to discuss the destructive effects of sequestration and the need for Congress to replace these reckless cuts with a responsible budget.

March 21, 2013 rally at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

Rally against Sequestration on March 21, 2013 at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

“Our shipyard will not survive another 9 ½ years of sequestration” O’Connor told Shea-Porter during their meeting in her Washington D.C. office. “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.”

Workers at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are among the roughly 650,000 U.S. Department of Defense employees who experienced up to 11 days of unpaid furloughs between July and September, suddenly reducing their income by 20 percent for the duration of the furloughs.

“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.”

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, sequestration will cost our economy up to 1.6 million jobs through 2014. According to a George Mason University study, the economic impact in New Hampshire is estimated to be $468 million in 2013.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter did not vote for sequestration and she spoke out against these indiscriminate cuts even before she was sworn into the 113th Congress. Since then, she has consistently spoken out in opposition to sequestration’s reckless cuts.

Federal Workers Get A Promise To EVENTUALLY Get Paid As The HOUSE Goes Into Recess

Today in the U.S. House, Representatives voted to provide back pay to all furloughed federal employees when the shutdown ends.  The Hill broke the news; “members approved the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, H.R. 3223, in a 407-0 vote.”

This is great news for furloughed federal workers who can rest a little easier knowing that eventually they will get their pay back.

NH Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter was a co-sponsor of the bill.  Porter’s district includes the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard where over 4000 workers were forced into furlough by the shutdown.  These are the same DOD workers were forced to take unpaid furlough days last year due to the ‘Sequester’ cuts.

“I was proud to cosponsor this legislation to ensure workers are not unfairly punished due to Washington gridlock, and I’m glad the House passed it,” Shea-Porter said. “But this bill does not address the urgent need for Congress to do its job and reopen the full federal government. It’s time to put aside partisan politics and allow a vote on a clean funding bill that has bipartisan support and would put people back to work.”

NH Congresswoman Annie Kuster sent out this statement shortly after the vote.

“Hard working federal employees shouldn’t lose their pay because of gridlock in Congress, and this common sense bill will ensure that they don’t. Now it’s time for Speaker Boehner to let us vote on a bill to fully end the shutdown and restore services for New Hampshire families.”

This bill pays workers what is owed to them only AFTER the government reopens.  The question is when will the shutdown end?  The House has moved into recess to allow members to go home for the weekend.

Some Representatives in the House we not happy with this decision to go into recess.  Rep Shea-Porter spoke out against the recess!  In a short one-minute speech on the House floor, Shea-Porter said:

“Now I find out that we [the House of Representatives] are going home. Speaker Boehner has decided that Congress will go home tomorrow. How can we possibly go home? 

“There are people [in New Hampshire] who are not being paid. People here who are not being paid; police were not paid who work here every day. Across this country people are not receiving what they paid for, and we’re going home? 

“I’m embarrassed about this. We should stay here. And if they can’t agree to accept the fact that they lost the vote on the health care law, again and again, if they can’t agree to that, can they at least agree to work on jobs? There’s plenty of work to do in this country. And we have no right to go home until we get this job done.”

This is what every single legislator in Washington should be saying until they reopen the government.  Even though they will be eventually get paid that could mean weeks or months without a paycheck.  What are they supposed to eat until the government reopens?

Congress should stay in Washington, and stay in session until they resolve this shutdown.  Working families throughout the country are depending on them to fix this situation before they end up missing paychecks.

The actual federal workers are not the only ones being harmed by this shutdown. Melissa Roseboro is a federal contract worker at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  As a contractor there is still question as to whether she will be given any type of back pay.  Roseboro, along with many other low-wage federal contract workers spoke out against this shutdown in a sit-in at Speaker Boehner’s office.

“As it is, I am barely able to pay my rent and put food on the table with what I make at McDonald’s in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.”

“I am forced to rely on public assistance to get by.  But this shutdown is making it impossible for me to even scrape by. Every day the government is shut down is another day I don’t have any money to feed my family. So we are here to ask House Republicans, who continue to get paid while playing politics with my job and my wages, to help us pay our bills.  My rent was due yesterday. It’s not right, and I need Congress to end this shutdown and let us work.”

People need to get back to work so they can earn a paycheck and pay their bills.  Speaker Boehner has to power to end this shutdown.  All he has to do is call for a vote on a clean continuing resolution. A clean CR definitely has the numbers to pass.  It just has to be called for a vote by Speaker Boehner.