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Crapo’s Amendment to Strengthen Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Included in Defense Bill

Washington, D.C.--U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) championed an amendment included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to strengthen the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to compensate individuals exposed to radiation during the Cold War era while working in uranium mines or living downwind from atomic weapons tests.  The Senate passed the amendment by a 61-37 bipartisan vote.

“Far too many innocent victims have been lost to cancer-related deaths from Cold War era above-ground weapons testing,” said Crapo.  “The Senate’s passage of this amendment is an important step toward future enactment of this legislation, which will mean Idahoans and Americans who have suffered the health consequences of exposure to fallout from nuclear weapons testing will finally start to receive the compensation they rightfully deserve.”

"Idaho Downwinders and Frontline Communities want to thank everyone in the Senate that voted for our RECA Amendment Bill,” said Tona Henderson, head of the Idaho Downwinders.  “We have made huge strides in this issue due in large part to Senators Crapo, Luján and their staffs.  This is an amazing turn of events!"

The amendment would expand the coverage area to allow more potential victims, those who lived downwind of above-ground atomic weapons tests in the 1950s and 1960s, known as “downwinders,” to file for compensation under RECA.  While the original RECA program only covered individuals who lived in parts of Utah, Nevada and Arizona, this amendment would expand the geographic downwinder eligibility to include then-residents of Idaho, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and Guam.  The amendment also extends the program for 19 years, expands the program to include uranium mining workers through 1990 and expands the use of affidavits in determining eligibility claims.

Crapo is a longtime Senate lead on expanding the RECA program.  U.S. Senators Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) and Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico) are also sponsors of the amendment.

Senator Crapo’s speech on the Senate floor in advance of the vote can be viewed HERE

A final vote on passage of the FY24 NDAA will occur Thursday night.