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Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) is spearheading efforts to amend the Senate’s supplemental foreign aid package to include extended compensation for Americans affected by radiation exposure. This move follows the removal of a similar amendment from a defense package last year.
Hawley’s proposal aims to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which currently compensates individuals exposed to radiation in specific states but excludes others such as New Mexico and Missouri. In a statement, Senator Hawley said, “Hundreds of thousands of people, who depend on this program for lifesaving help, will be left literally to die if this program expires. And the people around me that you see will get no help unless we do something.”
The amendment seeks to not only extend RECA for an additional 19 years beyond President Biden’s two-year extension into 2024 but also expand its coverage to include more states affected by nuclear testing and uranium processing. This effort is a continuation of Hawley’s previous attempt to widen RECA’s scope, which a bipartisan group of senators supported but ultimately excluded from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) due to opposition, reportedly from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Hawley said, “Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said McConnell went to him and said ‘I don’t want RECA in there. I want to get rid of it,’ From the very beginning, it was like McConnell’s going to be a problem.”
This push by Hawley and his colleagues comes as many have called to provide compensation for Americans across several states, including New Mexico, Missouri, Idaho, Montana, Guam, Colorado, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alaska, who have suffered from the health impacts of radiation exposure.