WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 23, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) announced today that the Senate’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget resolution, approved Thursday evening by the Senate Budget Committee, includes several measures she fought for that protect New Hampshire priorities. During Thursday’s Budget Committee markup, Ayotte introduced amendments aimed at keeping our country safe, protecting federal workers at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, prioritizing energy efficiency, supporting the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and addressing New Hampshire’s heroin and prescription drug addiction crisis.
SUMMARY OF AYOTTE AMENDMENTS:
Protecting Workers at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
Ayotte’s amendment calls for maintaining our military readiness and national security by protecting the federal workforce, including workers at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. As a member of the Armed Services Committee, Ayotte has been a staunch advocate for the shipyard’s skilled workforce. She has used her position as chair (and previous ranking member) of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support — which oversees military construction and the nation’s shipyards and depots — to make sure the workers at shipyard have the modern facilities they need to ensure the United States Navy continues to possess the most capable, reliable, and safe attack submarine fleet in the world. She has also repeatedly opposed the administration’s requests for another Base Realignment and Closure round.
Keeping Our Nation Safe
Senator Ayotte worked to include an amendment that provides necessary funding to protect our servicemen and women and keep our country safe. In addition to financing American military operations in places like Afghanistan and against ISIS, this increased funding will be used to restore military readiness and advance important modernization programs-allowing the United States military to retain its military superiority and protect our national security.
Boosting Energy Efficiency, Supporting LWCF & LIHEAP
This measure calls for increasing energy efficiency and supporting the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Ayotte is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation – the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act – aimed at boosting greater energy efficiency across the public and private sectors. The bill, authored by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), includes a bipartisan provision authored by Ayotte that encourages tenants of commercial buildings to implement cost-effective measures to help reduce energy consumption and utility costs for businesses. Ayotte is an original cosponsor of the Portman-Shaheen bill.
Ayotte has continually advocated for LIHEAP support, which is critical for many New Hampshire seniors and low-income families during the cold winter months. Following repeated calls from Ayotte and Shaheen for the administration to bolster the home-heating assistance program, New Hampshire received more than $25 million for the 2015 fiscal year.
Since arriving in the Senate, Ayotte has worked diligently to protect New Hampshire’s pristine environment. She is a strong supporter of the LWCF program, which has been used to protect thousands of acres in New Hampshire without using taxpayer dollars. She is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation that would permanently reauthorize LWCF.
Addressing NH’s Heroin and Prescription Drug Crisis
Ayotte’s measure calls for addressing the heroin and prescription drug abuse epidemic in New Hampshire and across our nation. Ayotte has introduced or cosponsored numerous legislative proposals aimed at reversing this trend, including the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which would provide a series of incentives and resources designed to encourage states and local communities to pursue a full array of proven strategies to combat addiction and support individuals in recovery. Ayotte’s amendment also calls for continued support of federal programs that assist state and local law enforcement efforts to combat heroin and prescription drug abuse, such as Byrne JAG, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, the Drug Free Communities program, drug courts, prescription drug monitoring programs, and Second Chance Act programs.
Senator Ayotte also co-sponsored the following amendments, which are included in the current version of the budget resolution:
Strengthening 529 College Savings Plans
Senator Ayotte cosponsored an amendment offered by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that would strengthen and enhance Section 529 College Savings Plans. Ayotte is a cosponsor of Grassley’s stand-alone bill that would help families save for their children’s college education. The bill allows funds from 529s to be used to purchase a computer on the same tax-favorable basis as other required materials. It also eliminates an outdated rule that increases paperwork and costs on plan administrators, and provides tax and penalty relief in instances where a student may have to withdraw from school for illness or other reasons.
Reducing IRS Tax Fraud
The Warner amendment would ensure that the IRS notifies taxpayers when potential identity theft occurs. According to the Government Accountability Office, the IRS paid an estimated $5.8 billion in fraudulent refunds in 2013. Each year the IRS publishes a list of the top fraud schemes
Auditing the Pentagon
The Sanders amendment calls for the Pentagon to undergo a financial audit to help identify waste, fraud, and abuse. Since arriving in the Senate, Ayotte has helped lead efforts to require the Pentagon to become audit-ready, and she successfully included in the FY 2013 defense authorization bill a measure requiring the Pentagon to provide an expedited accounting of its finances. While the agency has made some progress, DoD continues to miss deadlines and change plans for producing audit-ready financial statements.