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Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) expressed dismay on Wednesday as a bipartisan amendment aiming to extend compensation to American victims of atomic radiation was excluded from the final draft of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

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The amendment, co-sponsored by Senators Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Eric Schmitt (R-MO), and Mike Crapo (R-ID), sought to expand and reauthorize the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) of 1990.

Initially, RECA provided compensation to those exposed to atomic testing and radiation from ore mining in Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. However, it overlooked areas such as New Mexico, the site of the 1945 Trinity atomic bomb test, and Missouri, where uranium production for wartime purposes led to the contamination of Coldwater Creek in St. Louis. The proposed amendment would have included New Mexico, Missouri, Idaho, Montana, Guam, and Colorado under RECA, along with a 19-year extension of the law, which, without intervention, is set to expire in 2024.

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Hawley, who had earlier threatened to vote against the NDAA if the amendment was omitted, expressed his frustration on X, saying, “This is a major betrayal of thousands and thousands of Missourians who have been lied to and ignored for years. As I promised, I will vote against this bill that betrays the commitment this nation made to nuclear test victims – and do everything in my power to stop it.”

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Senator Hawley’s sentiment was echoed by Lujan and Schmitt, who, while supporting the amendment’s inclusion, did not commit to opposing the bill in its current state.


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