GOSAR’S “DOWNWINDERS” AMENDMENT TO NDAA PASSES

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Washington, May 23, 2018 | comments

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Representative Paul Gosar D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after Gosar number 63 amendment to H.R. 5515 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 passed on the House Floor:

“As a result of our nation’s Cold War security strategy many Arizonans and thousands of innocent Americans were exposed to cancer-causing carcinogens from atmospheric nuclear tests,” said Congressman Gosar. “I support our military's efforts to secure and protect our nation from hostile nuclear threats. However, Congress and the federal government have a clear responsibility to provide remuneration for all victims that developed radiation-induced cancer from these federal tests. I will not relent until justice is served and suffering Americans receive some form of compensation for the government negligence that ruined many of their lives. The passage of this amendment is a step in the right direction.”


Background: 

On May 22, the House of Representatives unanimously passed Rep. Gosar’s amendment that requires National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to perform an assessment to determine if certain individuals exposed to nuclear fallout from atmospheric nuclear testing by the federal government at the Nevada Test Site contracted certain cancers as a result of that testing and should be eligible for the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.

From 1945 to 1962 the United States government conducted nearly 200 atmospheric weapons development tests as part of our nation’s Cold War security strategy during an era when other hostile nations were also engaged in nuclear weapons testing and proliferation. These tests exposed thousands of innocent Americans to cancer-causing ionized radiation from nuclear fallout.

When the injuries were discovered, Congress subsequently provided an apology on behalf of the nation and passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990, or RECA, to establish a trust fund for partial restitution to individuals—commonly referred to as “Downwinders”—who have contracted certain cancers and other serious diseases that can be directly attributed to the radiation exposure from the nuclear weapons testing.

While the Act which established RECA was well-intended, there are serious boundary flaws that have prevented otherwise eligible Americans from receiving justice and the compensation to which they are entitled. Americans that reside in counties in close proximity to where the testing occurred are excluded from this program for no logical scientific reason, including people that reside in Mohave County, Arizona and Clark County, Nevada. Rep. Gosar has been leading the charge to rectify this injustice and provide compensation to qualifying individuals not included in the 1990 Act that deserve restitution.

In 2014, Congressman Gosar held a field hearing in Kingman, Arizona in regard to the Downwinders of Mohave County, Arizona. At the hearing, Congressman Gosar heard a range of testimony, from expert reviews on the law and medicine to the personal stories of actual Downwinders. Witnesses included a Congressional Research Service (CRS) analyst, Mohave County officials, the Chairwoman of the Hualapai Tribe and several local residents who either developed radiation-induced cancer themselves or have family members who died from radiation-induced cancer.

Rep. Gosar has also introduced bipartisan legislation to address these issues in the form of H.R. 3531, the Downwinders Compensation Act.

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