The federal defense bill is on its way to President Biden’s desk after the U.S. Senate passed it Wednesday and the House passed it Thursday.

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, delayed passage of the bill and voted “no” because his amendment to include payments for radiation victims was cut out. Hawley said he’ll now try to get his amendment added onto the federal budget.

“That is my number one priority,” he told Missourinet. “I can’t believe that we would spend trillions of dollars on who knows what and we wouldn’t spend a few billion dollars over the next 50 years to compensate the people of Missouri and the people of New Mexico and Colorado and the Navajo Nation and everybody else in this country who has been poisoned by nuclear radiation by their government.”

Congress has until mid-January to reach another budget deal or again risk a government shutdown. But Hawley is not limiting his efforts to just the federal budget.

“I will work to get this measure attached to anything that I think has a reasonable chance to move, to pass,” he said. “I want to see this enacted into law. I want to see the people of our state get compensated. I want to see them be able to afford their health care. I want to see them be recognized by their government, and (for) this government (to) admit what it has done.”

Hawley’s amendment would extend the life of the Radiation Compensation Exposure Act (RECA) for 19 years and add several states whose residents would be eligible to take part, including Missouri. RECA is set to expire next May.

Meanwhile, the fate of the National Defense Authorization Act is up to President Biden. The bill includes a $5.2% pay increase for U.S. military members – their largest raise in more than two decades.

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