Maine & New Hampshire Senators Encouraged by New Secretary of Defense Memo Indicating Critical National Security Projects at PNSY May Not Be Impacted by Emergency Declaration

Senators Collins, King, Shaheen & Hassan Issue Joint Statement in Response to DOD Memo Stating FY2019 Funding Projects, which Appear to Include Those at the Shipyard, May Not be Impacted by Trump’s Emergency Declaration

New Memo Comes Following Weeks of Advocacy by NH & ME Congressional Delegations to Prevent the Administration from Diverting Funds from Military Construction Projects Specifically Appropriated by Congress to Pay for a Wall on Southern Border

 

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) issued a joint statement in response to a new memo from Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan that directs military construction projects with fiscal year (FY) 2019 award dates be exempt from having their funding diverted to pay for a border wall due to President Trump’s emergency declaration. This specific criteria means that the four current projects at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) with FY 2019 award dates – which had funding specifically appropriated by Congress and signed into law – should not lose funding. In March, the Department of Defense (DOD) provided a list of military construction projects that included the PNSY priorities, which were under threat of losing funding as a result of the emergency declaration. The list came in response to questioning from Senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee, including Senator Shaheen.

 

Since the President announced his emergency declaration and projects at the Shipyard were listed as potential targets to lose funding, members of the Maine and New Hampshire delegations have fiercely advocated on behalf of the Shipyard and worked to defend the funding secured by Congress.

 

“We are encouraged that Secretary Shanahan’s criteria appears to maintain funding for urgently needed projects at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard,” said Senators Collins, King, Shaheen, and Hassan. “The Shipyard’s mission is more important than ever, and we hope that Shipyard workers will soon have a concrete assurance that this funding is secure once the Department of Defense has made a final determination. However, we remain very concerned regarding the President’s emergency declaration and the implications it could have for our national security. Our nation’s military construction needs have been funded by Congress and signed into law, and it is unconstitutional to divert these resources for other purposes.”  

 

Senator Collins co-led the bipartisan Senate resolution— which was identical to the resolution that passed Congress and was co-sponsored by Senators Shaheen, Hassan and King—to terminate the President’s national emergency declaration and uphold the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution.  She also spoke from the Senate floor to urge her colleagues to support the resolution.   As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Collins helped secured $162 million for these three projects at PNSY.  At a hearing this week, she questioned the U.S. Navy’s Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics about the status of these projects, and he assured her that the Department of Defense was on track to award contracts for all three. 

 

In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last month, Senator King pressed Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to identify which authorized military construction projects are subject to being cancelled or reduced in order to reallocate funding for the President’s border wall. After questioning from Senator King and his colleagues throughout the hearing, the Acting Defense Secretary agreed to provide a full list of projects at risk due to the President’s declaration 

Senator Shaheen is a member of the Senate Armed Services and Appropriations Committees, and working closely with members of the New Hampshire and Maine delegation, has been instrumental in providing funding to the Shipyard. The funding for three of the four projects at the Shipyard that the President’s declaration threatens was passed by Congress and signed into law in September of 2018.  The fourth project, the Paint, Blast and Rubber facility, was funded in 2017.

 

Senators Shaheen and Hassan sent a New Hampshire Congressional Delegation letter to the President, urging him to reconsider his actions which could have an adverse impact on the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. In March, Shaheen personally appealed to Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer to protect funding for Shipyard projects from being diverted to pay for the President’s border wall.