Senators Vote To Pass Radiation Compensation Bill

Senators Approve Radiation Compensation Bill

( – Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) in October 1990, establishing an administrative program for the approval of claims related to nuclear testing and those employed in the uranium industry. Lawmakers expanded upon the act in 2000 and set an expiration date of June 2022 before Congress extended it that year for another two years. Now, Senators have passed a bill expanding who has the right to benefit under the Act.

On Thursday, March 7, the Senate passed legislation crafted by Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and co-sponsored by six others — Democrats, Republicans, and an Independent. The bill would not only reauthorize RECA, but it would also make compensation available for claimants who are victims of radioactive waste in the US.

The legislation met some backlash, notably from Republicans, who didn’t like the estimated cost of $50 billion. However, Hawley addressed this, saying in a statement that it’s not “about a handout” and it’s not “some kind of welfare program,” but rather “about doing basic justice by the working people of this nation, whom their own government has poisoned.”

Hawley has worked on the matter, crafting the legislation for quite a while. He’s made clear his frustration with Senate leadership, blaming them for pushing money toward foreign wars without first taking care of their own constituents.

An investigation carried out last year highlighted the issue in Hawley’s state, particularly in St. Louis. The US government and companies that produced nuclear bombs and stored atomic waste knew the risks but reportedly ignored them for 75 years.

The bill easily passed the Senate 69-30. All but two Democrats and 20 Republicans joined in favor of the legislation. Now, the measure heads to the House, where it faces an uncertain future. The White House noted that if the bill goes to President Joe Biden’s desk, he will sign it into law.

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