Owens and Leger Fernández Lead Bipartisan Letter to House Leadership Requesting Vote on the RECA Extension Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Reps. Burgess Owens (UT-04) and Teresa Leger Fernández (NM-03) led a bipartisan letter to Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, Minority Leader McCarthy, and Minority Whip Scalise. In the letter, the representatives urge leadership to bring S. 4119, the RECA Extension Act of 2022 to the House Floor for a vote as expeditiously as possible.

Last week, the U.S. Senate unanimously agreed to pass S. 4119, the RECA Extension Act to extend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) program until two years after the date of enactment. This would allow individuals more time to apply for the compensation they deserve.

“As you know, in 1945, the United States exploded the first atomic bomb at the Trinity Site in New Mexico. Over the next 48 years, the U.S. conducted more than 200 above-ground nuclear tests. These tests released harmful radioactive material into the air in many parts of the United States, including New Mexico, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Montana, and Guam, and exposed nearby downwinder communities to radiation. Testing also harmed those working in the uranium industry. As a result of the exposure, tens of thousands contracted cancers and other serious diseases.” said Owens in the letter.

“Many Americans are still falling sick and dying due to radiation exposure. The United States should not walk away from its commitment to compensate these people. We must quickly pass S. 4119 to extend RECA so that the program does not expire in July,” added Owens in the letter.

The letter was also signed by Representatives Tom O’Halleran, Blake D. Moore, Michael F. Q. San Nicolas, Chris Stewart, Veronica Escobar, Russ Fulcher, Melanie Stansbury, Yvette Herrell, Ruben Gallego, John R. Curtis, Rashida Tlaib, Nikema Williams, Dina Titus, and Steven Horsford.

Last year, Reps. Owens and Leger Fernández introduced H.R. 5338, the RECA Amendments of 2021. H.R. 5338 would expand eligibility under RECA to include downwinders from New Mexico and other states as well as post-71 uranium miners. The House Judiciary Committee passed the legislation with bipartisan support in December 2021.

Read the full text of the letter below:

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, Minority Leader McCarthy, and Minority Whip Scalise:

We write to urge you to bring S. 4119, the RECA Extension Act of 2022 to the House Floor as expeditiously as possible. This legislation would extend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) program until two years after enactment. It passed the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent last week. S. 4119’s quick consideration in the House is necessary given RECA’s impending sunset on July 10, 2022.

As you know, in 1945, the United States exploded the first atomic bomb at the Trinity Site in New Mexico. Over the next 48 years, the U.S. conducted more than 200 above-ground nuclear tests. These tests released harmful radioactive material into the air in many parts of the United States, including New Mexico, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Montana, and Guam, and exposed nearby downwinder communities to radiation. Testing also harmed those working in the uranium industry. As a result of the exposure, tens of thousands contracted cancers and other serious diseases.

In 1990, Congress passed RECA on a bipartisan basis to provide a one-time payment to many of those harmed. The program provides benefits to qualified persons who participated in onsite tests of an atomic weapon; downwinders in specified areas near the Nevada Test Site only; and uranium miners, millers, and ore transporters who worked in the industry between 1942 and 1971.

Many Americans are still falling sick and dying due to radiation exposure. The United States should not walk away from its commitment to compensate these people. We must quickly pass S. 4119 to extend RECA so that the program does not expire in July. It is also important to note that we continue to work on a bipartisan basis to expand and improve RECA through the bipartisan H.R. 5338, the RECA Amendments of 2021. Our bill will make sure that uranium miners and downwinders who were previously left out can receive the compensation and support they deserve. We look forward to engaging with you on that legislation as well.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

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