Congressional Roundup: Water bills, HAVANA Act passes, SHRED Act introduced

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It’s June 13, 2021. Here’s a roundup of recent news from New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation.

Hassan and Shaheen introduce two new water bills

U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in introducing two pieces of legislation – the Clean Water for Military Families Act and the Filthy Fifty Act – that would direct the Department of Defense (DOD) to identify and clean up per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at U.S. military installations with some of the highest detections across the country, including Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire.

“For too many of our service members and their families, PFAS exposure has exposed them to serious health concerns and anxiety. It is critical that we take every step necessary to prevent and remediate contamination by these toxic chemicals at the bases and communities where our military families live and work,” said Shaheen. “I’m proud to introduce these two pieces of legislation with Senators Padilla and Gillibrand to help clean up military bases infected by PFAS contamination and protect the health and well being of our service members and their loved ones. I urge members on both sides of the aisle to join us in this common-sense, urgently needed effort.”

“Service members put their lives on the line to make sure that we are safe, secure, and free, and it is unacceptable that many service members and their families are exposed to toxic chemicals on military bases here at home,” said Senator Hassan. “These bills will help more military families and surrounding communities have access to safe drinking water by increasing oversight and expediting the PFAS cleanup process. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to address PFAS contamination so that Granite Staters and all Americans have safe drinking water.”

Read the text of the Clean Water for Military Families Act HERE.  A one-pager on the Clean Water for Military Families Act can be found HERE.  Read the text of the Filthy Fifty Act HERE. 

HAVANA Act passes Senate

The Senate unanimously passed bipartisan legislation to support American public servants who’ve incurred brain injuries from probable directed-energy attacks.  The Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act, co-authored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), would authorize additional financial support for injured individuals.

The HAVANA Act would authorize the CIA Director, the Secretary of State and other Department Heads to provide injured employees with additional financial support for brain injuries. Both the CIA and State Department would be required to create regulations detailing fair and equitable criteria for payment. This legislation would also require the CIA, State Department and other Department Heads to report to Congress on how this authority is being used and if additional legislative or administrative action is required.

“It is shameful and unacceptable that so many American public servants and their families who are suffering from these mysterious brain injuries have gone without access to the assistance they need and deserve. That must change, and today, the Senate took an important step forward to help right that wrong,” said Shaheen. “Securing appropriate support for those injured has been a priority of mine for years, and I’m glad to partner with Senator Collins and this bipartisan group of lawmakers to build on that progress and help provide additional compensation for afflicted U.S. personnel. This bipartisan bill helps create a uniform response to these attacks, and I’ll keep working across the aisle to get to the bottom of these attacks and to support those suffering from critical injuries.”

“Havana Syndrome” is the term given to an injury that first surfaced among more than 40 U.S. Embassy staff in Havana, Cuba, beginning in 2016. Since then, at least a dozen U.S. diplomats at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou suffered symptoms “consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radiofrequency energy,” and, according to press reports, there have been more than 130 total cases among American personnel, including on U.S. soil. Symptoms have included severe headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, visual and hearing problems, vertigo and cognitive difficulties, and many affected personnel continue to suffer from health problems years after the attacks. The HAVANA Act would give the CIA Director, the Secretary of State and other agency heads additional authority to provide financial and medical support to those suffering from brain injuries as a result of these attacks.

The legislation was cosponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Angus King (I-ME), James Risch (R-ID), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Rick Scott (R-FL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

Full text of the bill is available here.

Kuster introduces SHRED Act

Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH) and John Curtis (R-UT), co-chairs of the House Ski and Snowboard Caucus, along with Congressman Joe Neguse (D-CO) and Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) introduced the Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development (SHRED) Act, bipartisan legislation to support ski areas across the country that are operating on National Forest System lands and bring money back to local forests. Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and John Barrasso (R-WY).

Currently, fees related to the permitting of ski areas on U.S. Forest Service land are given to the Treasury Department, where the funds are not dedicated for any specific purpose. The Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development (SHRED) Act seeks to change this system, and instead direct a portion of the fees to the National Forest System, where they will be used for local infrastructure improvements, avalanche forecasting and safety, and improved visitor services. The legislation also directs money to improve the ski area permitting process, helping ski areas facilitate investment in rural mountain communities.

“Outdoor recreation and skiing are cornerstones of New Hampshire’s economy and the Granite State way of life,” said Kuster. “As co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Ski and Snowboard Caucus, my Ski Hill Resources for Economic Development (SHRED) Act will steer more New Hampshire dollars back home by investing fees paid by our Granite State ski mountains into our local forests and communities to help create more year-round jobs and bolster our regional economies for generations to come.”