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Hawley presses Speaker Johnson to schedule vote on radiation compensation bill

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is pressing Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) to schedule a vote on the reauthorization of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which the Senate passed with 69 votes last week.

Johnson and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) opposed an earlier version of the legislation that the Senate attached to the National Defense Authorization Act.

Hawley later amended the legislation to cover communities in more states, such as Kentucky, and cut its projected cost by $100 billion.

McConnell, who pushed to strip Hawley’s RECA amendment out of the Defense bill last year, voted for the stand-alone reauthorization last week.

Now Hawley is ramping up pressure on Johnson and other House Republicans to act on the measure.

“I hope that you will do the right thing and put RECA reauthorization on the floor as soon as possible for a vote. People across the country — from Missouri to Arizona to Kentucky to Texas to Louisiana — are counting on your support,” he wrote in a letter to Johnson.

Hawley added a personal touch by addressing the Speaker as “Mike” in a penned annotation atop the letter.

Hawley is sending more than 70 such personalized letters to House Republicans whose constituents would be impacted by any failure to extend and expand the compensation program by late spring.

Hawley’s proposal would help constituents in the St. Louis area exposed to radiation from improperly stored material left over from the World War II-era Manhattan Project.

The program, which was first enacted in 1990 with the help of the late Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), is due to expire in June.

“We have less than 90 days until this program goes dark. We cannot let that happen. It is our moral obligation to do right by these brave Americans who were sacrificed for our national security,” Hawley writes.

“The Senate legislation is bipartisan. It passed the Senate with 69 votes. Both Leader Schumer and Minority Leader McConnell voted for it. Every single state has victims,” he noted, referring to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

The Senate adopted the Defense bill amendment to extend RECA sponsored by Hawley and Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) in July with 61 votes.

Updated at 2:58 p.m.

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