The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) is expiring tomorrow, June 7th.

RECA was initially created in 1990 to provide minor reimbursement for critical medical care for some victims of radiation exposure from American nuclear weapons development and testing.

Since September, senators have attempted to amend the bill, seeking to expand its applicability as well as its lifetime. One of these amendments was to the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, which would have extended RECA for two decades and significantly expanded its geographical coverage. However, it was omitted by House leadership in their version of the defense bill. More modest versions of this amendment were proposed several times by advocates, including Josh Hawley, but were rejected each time due to funding concerns.

Finally, on March 7th, S. 3853 was passed by the Senate (69-30), which would extend the RECA program by five years, as well as expand the compensation package to include radiation victims marginalized by the original 1990 program. Hawley has been a notable supporter of this action, citing the nearing expiration of RECA as a “failure of leadership.”

The ratification of this amendment has still not taken place; it is held up by Speaker Johnson and set to expire on June 7th.

The initial 1990 medical package is limited, greatly ignoring several demographics of radiation victims. Uranium miners, whose health is severely impacted on the job site to this day, are only eligible for RECA if they were employed through 1971. These miners, including veteran Leslie Begay, were not informed of the dangers upon hire, nor given the proper safety equipment, leaving them to suffer the consequences decades later. Additionally, RECA currently only covers victims in Utah, Nevada, and Arizona, although the aftermath of nuclear weapon creation has spread to a number of other states. Even for eligible survivors, the medical funds provided are not enough to cover the damage their bodies have sustained.

Despite these injustices, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson refuses to allow voting to commence on this bill. If he did, it would surely be ratified. President Biden has also publicly announced that he would sign it.

We at Tri-Valley CAREs invite you to join us and make a phone call to Speaker Johnson’s office at (202) 225-4000.

You can simply tell the staff that you:

“…strongly urge the House to quickly take up and pass the RECA expansion and extension bill, S. 3853, in the interest of public health and justice for those impacted by the government’s past nuclear testing and nuclear weapons production activities”

We also recommend reaching out to local and state representatives, requesting that they also send a message to Mike Johnson, asking him to allow voting on S. 2853 to commence. To find your state representatives, click here.


Dasha Orel, Tri-Valley CAREs Intern