Crapo, Bipartisan Group Introduces RECA Legislation
Would allow victims in Idaho and other western states to file claims for benefits after exposure to nuclear radiation
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) today introduced the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2019. The legislation would expand coverage of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to include victims in Idaho, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Guam. Senator Crapo chaired a Judiciary Committee hearing on the legislation in the last Congress, and introduced the legislation again today to continue pushing for its consideration and passage. The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico), Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey).
“Many Idahoans have suffered the health consequences of exposure to fallout from nuclear weapons testing,” said Senator Crapo. “Congress has expanded coverage to include certain counties in other affected states in the West, and its past time for Idahoans and our neighbors to receive the compensation they deserve. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee with jurisdiction over this program, I will continue to work for the passage of this important legislation.”
“It was wonderful to be able to have a Senate Hearing on our bill, we look forward to passage of our bill,” said Tona Henderson, Idaho business owner and leader of the Idaho Downwinders. “Idaho Downwinders appreciate all the help from Senators Crapo and Risch.”
“For decades now, Idahoans have been pleading their case to the federal government for help in dealing with the health effects they suffered as a result of nuclear testing,” said Senator Risch. “This bill answers those pleas by providing the same assistance those in neighboring states already receive.”
“Justice is long, long overdue for the New Mexico families and Tribal members who are victims of radiation exposure as a result of the government’s nuclear testing during the Cold War,” said Senator Udall. “While we can’t undo the years of suffering for these individuals and families, I will not rest until we make sure the many unwilling Cold War victims – including those living downwind of the Trinity test site in New Mexico's Tularosa Basin and post-1971 uranium workers in New Mexico -- and their families are fairly compensated. Providing just compensation to victims of radiation exposure will not erase the years of pain and illness, but it is the least we can do to honor the sacrifice that so many made to keep our nation secure.”
"Congress needs to pass the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments to provide medical assistance and compensation to those who bore the health costs of our nation’s nuclear history,” said Senator Heinrich. “That includes families who lived in and near New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin at the time of the Trinity Test and all of the uranium mill workers and miners who continue to cope with serious health problems due to exposure to radioactive nuclear material. I will continue to fight for the justice these Americans deserve.”
The bill would increase compensation and widen eligibility requirements for victims denied government help for more than fifty year for health problems relating to cancer caused by radioactive fallout from nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s and 1960s. Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Guam would be added to existing areas where victims can apply for compensation under the federal RECA program. At present, only residents of certain counties in Utah, Nevada and Arizona are eligible to apply for benefits, something witnesses repeatedly noted during their testimony.
- Senator Crapo introduced the legislation in the 115th Congress on January 24, 2017.
- On June 27, 2018, Senator Crapo chaired a Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on the RECA Amendments of 2017.
- Idaho Downwinders provided personal testimony at the RECA hearing in June 2018.
- Senator Crapo asked the Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing on the bipartisan RECA Amendments legislation.
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