ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Radiation exposure compensation for thousands of St. Louis families has been stripped away from the annual National Defense Authorization Act. Thousands of families are now wondering what will happen when the fund expires in just a few short months.
“This may be some of these people’s last Christmas,” Dawn Chapman, Just Moms STL, said. “Do we really have to go spend it on the steps of the Capitol trying to get an appointment with leader McConnell? Is that really what we have to do?”
Chapman received a call from Senator Josh Hawley on Wednesday. The senator shared the devastating news.
“I could hear it in his voice when I answered the phone. It hurt me to hear how hurt he was, if that makes any sense,” Chapman said. “But he was also very angry, and I think it’s going to be rough passing this now.”
Just Moms STL spent last week at the nation’s capital meeting with federal officials, hoping to get their vote for the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.
More than 40,000 people across 11 states have received compensation since the RECA bill passed 30 years ago, but that is set to expire next summer.
“I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to see the Senate pass this by huge bipartisan basis and then see a handful of politicians in a back room go and try to strip it out. These people ought to be accountable,” Hawley said. “They ought to tell us why they think no American and nobody from the state of Missouri ought to get even the least bit of compensation for the poisoning radiation their government inflicted.”
He said the removal of the RECA amendment from the defense bill is far from the end of the radiation victims.
“I’m going to do everything I can to see that that bill is killed,” Hawley said. “There is no way I’m going to vote for defense contractors to get paid when the people of St. Louis are left out in the cold.”
Sen. Hawley is not alone in his condemnation of Wednesday’s move. Senator Eric Schmitt and Congresswoman Cori Bush released statements pledging to get Missourians compensation from the federal government.
If reports are true, it’s incredibly unfortunate that this amendment didn’t get in to the final version of the NDAA. I worked extremely hard to try to get this amendment into the final version. But this fight is far from over. I’m actively looking into further legislation to make sure these victims get the compensation they deserve for being exposed to radioactive waste by their own government. These victims deserve action and recourse. The careless dumping of this waste happened across Missouri, including in my own backyard of St. Louis, and has negatively impacted Missouri communities for decades – I will not stop fighting until it is addressed.
Sen. Eric Schmitt
The federal government has a responsibility to compensate those who’ve been harmed by radioactive waste dumped in their communities. It’s failure to so is straight up negligence. Congress can somehow always find the money to fund war, but can never find the money to address the life-threatening impacts war has on our communities. That is unacceptable. The people of St. Louis deserve better, and they deserve to be able to live without worry of radioactive contamination.
Rep. Cori Bush