Gosar Votes to Extend Compensation to Downwinders, Urges Reforms to Include Impacted Areas Currently Excluded
Washington, D.C. —Congressman Paul Gosar, D.D.S. (R-AZ), issued the following statement after voting in support of S. 4119, legislation to extend the authorization of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Trust Fund for two additional years.
“While I am pleased to have voted to extend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) two additional years to provide benefit payments to persons who developed cancer or other related illnesses after being exposed to radiation from atomic weapons testing during our nation’s Cold War Era, I remain concerned that the original act failed to properly define the boundaries of impacted populations.
Unfortunately, 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.
Since first being elected to Congress, I have worked tirelessly to fix the error that excluded Downwinders from Mohave and Clark Counties from filing claims with the Department of Justice. A two-year extension is certainly helpful, but Congress has a moral responsibility to update RECA and should stop dragging its feet and immediately take up H.R 538, the Downwinders Parity Act of 2021, important bipartisan legislation I authored that would extend RECA coverage to all of Mohave and Clark Counties,”concluded Congressman Gosar.
The United States government conducted nearly 200 atmospheric weapons development tests as part of Cold War security from 1945 to 1962—an era when other nations also engaged in nuclear weapons testing and proliferation. These tests exposed thousands of Americans to cancer-causing ionized radiation from nuclear fallout.
The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) is a federally funded program that provides partial restitution to those living in certain areas affected by the nuclear weapons testing from 1945 to 1962. Those affected, referred to as Downwinders, are known to have developed cancer following the nearby above-ground atomic weapons testing. RECA has awarded over $2.4 billion in benefits to more than 37,000 claimants since its inception in 1990. Compensation is paid from the Radiation Exposure Compensation Trust Fund. The Fund’s authorization is set to terminate on July 10, 2022, and claims would be barred beyond that date.
S. 4119 would extend the authorization of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Trust Fund through two years from the date of enactment of this bill. Claims could continue to be submitted during that period, but no later.