The U.S. Senate has passed Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley’s bill that would provide compensation to St. Louis-area radiation victims.

The measure would extend the existing Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to the year 2029 and include victims in Missouri, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Guam. It passed 69 to 30, with support from both Republicans and Democrats.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was among those voting “yes.” Hawley had blamed McConnell, R-Kentucky, for having an earlier version of the bill stripped out of the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act.

“Big victory for Missouri, and for justice,” Hawley said Thursday in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Fellow Missouri Sen. Eric Schmitt gave an assist to Hawley by speaking in support of the bill, which has an estimated price tag of $50 billion.

“We do a lot of things here,” Schmitt said. “We spend a lot of money, and we can debate on whether or not that’s worth it or not or (if) these are our priorities. But I think if we took off the red jerseys and we took off the blue jerseys and really focused on what we should really be doing here, one of the things that we should be doing is protecting our own citizens.”

The bill faces a tougher road in the U.S. House, where Republican leaders are more focused on cutting spending. But Congresswoman Cori Bush, D-St. Louis, strongly supports the bill.

“The leftover radioactive waste from the Manhattan Project continues to devastate St. Louis and communities across the country to this day. For decades, my constituents have dealt with the direct life-threatening exposure to this toxic waste,” Bush said. “I look forward to championing this legislation as it advances to the House, and I remain committed to ensuring our government does everything in its power to rectify their wrongdoings.”

Meanwhile, the reluctance of House Republican leaders to take up the bill has triggered a social media feud between Hawley and fellow Missouri Republican Congresswoman Ann Wagner, who represents portions of St. Louis County affected by radioactive contamination.

In an interview with the Kansas City Star, Wagner said the U.S. House is not looking to raise “deficits and debts any further than they already are,” and that “there needs to be a legitimate pay-for on this.”

Hawley then slammed Wagner on X, accusing her of turning her back on her constituents.

“RECA passes the Senate with a massive bipartisan vote – and Ann Wagner immediately attacks it?” Hawley posted. “Whose side is she on? Not Missouri’s.”

He followed that with a post that included a photo of Wagner with Ukrainian President Vlodomir Zelenskyy, saying, “Now do Missouri.” Wagner has voted in favor of funding Ukraine’s war effort against Russia

Wagner responded to Hawley’s attacks by posting, “Let me be clear: I will do all that I can to see RECA signed into law. I have consistently fought on this issue for the last decade and those who stood alongside me know the work I have done to support our St. Louis community.”

Copyright © 2024 · Missourinet