Congressional Roundup: VA sexual harassment, dairy farmers, grant funding

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It’s May 21, 2021. Here’s a roundup of recent news from New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation.

House Passes Pappas’s Legislation to Address Sexual Harassment at VA

The House passed legislation introduced by Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01), who serves as the Chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee for the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, alongside Representative Ashley Hinson (IA-01), Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), to drastically improve policies and oversight in regards to sexual harassment at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Their legislation, the Improving VA Accountability to Prevent Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Act of 2021, follows an alarming federal survey which estimated that one in five VA employees experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. After holding a hearing, Congressman Pappas helped introduce this legislation which will update policies, based on recommendations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to address these unacceptable findings.

Specifically, this legislation will require VA to report all sexual harassment complaints, create a better leadership structure to help oversee complaints, and update sexual harassment policies, information, and training.

A video of Pappas’ comments can be seen here.


Senators Seek Assistance for Dairy Farmers

U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) today led a bipartisan letter urging the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide additional relief to dairy farmers. They highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on costs facing dairy farmers, as well as the impact of milk pricing changes that resulted in $725 million in lost income for dairy farmers, with disproportionate impacts on small and mid-size dairy operations. They called on the USDA to provide more direct payments and assistance through USDA programs such as the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), or through other new or existing programs, to help reduce the strain facing dairy farmers.  

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted dairy supply chains and has caused disruptive price volatility,” the Senators wrote. “Feed, labor, farm equipment, and energy costs have all increased as the result of the pandemic and contributed to lower profits for dairy farmers. In addition, dairy farmers have experienced challenges receiving a fair price for their milk as a result of the change to the…milk price formula…that has caused dairy farmers collectively to lose out on $725 million dollars in income since the change was implemented in May 2019.” 

Co-signers onto the bipartisan letter include Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Angus King (I-ME), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Dick Durbin (D-IL).

Full text of the letter can be found here

Incoming Federal Grant Funding

U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) announced with Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01) that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will award New Hampshire $10,671,860 in federal grants allocated through the American Rescue Plan to support efforts to combat the substance use disorder epidemic and increase access to mental health services in the state in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, HHS will award $5,640,385 in supplemental funding for New Hampshire from the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant and $5,031,475 in supplemental funding from the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant.

These grants were made available as a result of the nearly $4 billion in funding included in the delegation-backed American Rescue Plan for mental health care and substance misuse services and comes in addition to the $16.3 million in funding the delegation announced for the state through the emergency COVID-19 relief package that passed Congress and was signed into law in December. Senator Shaheen successfully fought for the inclusion of language – which Hassan supported – in the December emergency relief providing $4.25 billion for substance use disorder treatment and mental health care.

About this Author

Nathan Graziano

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester with his wife and kids. He's the author of nine collections of fiction and poetry. His most recent book, Fly Like The Seagull was published by Luchador Press in 2020. He's a high school teacher and freelance writer, and in his free time, he writes bios about himself in the third person. For more information, visit his website: