‘His shoelaces are tied’: House Speaker failing to restore aid for today’s victims of U.S. nuclear waste, Hawley says

U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson is still failing to act even as federal compensation for radiation victims expired last week, says Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley.

Today’s continued victims of radiation from poorly buried WWII/Cold War-era nuclear waste in Missouri and across the country now can’t seek compensation from the government that “poisoned” them and their families, the senator notes.

The 1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) expired Friday. Hawley’s bill extending and expanding the law to include Missouri and other previously neglected states handily passed the Senate twice, but has inexplicably languished in the House since then.

“I don’t know why it’s hard. I don’t get it,” Hawley told The Heartlander in an exclusive interview Thursday. “I know that Mike Johnson has a lot of troubles in the House. What I notice is, if he wants to send money for foreign wars, he can do that lickety-split – you know, the money to Ukraine, hey, he was able to do that, snap of the fingers. Money for Gaza, that was easy. He got that done easy. 

“But when it comes to doing something for Americans who have been hurt by their own government, all of a sudden he’s tongue-tied and his shoelaces are tied and his hands are tied and he just doesn’t know want to do. This is not hard. This is because it’s a lack of will. 

“He needs to get focused again on this country. Quit going to Europe, and sending all this money to Europe and places around the world. Focus on the United States.”

Hawley hosted Missouri radiation victims on Capitol Hill Wednesday, but was unable to get them an audience with the Speaker.

“Oh my gosh, we’re in constant communication with his office trying to get him to act, but he himself will not sit down with the survivors from Missouri,” Hawley explained. “They were just here again yesterday. Speaker Johnson promised them he’d sit down and have a face-to-face conversation, and then he broke his promise multiple times, including yesterday, when they went to his office and [staff] said, ‘Actually, no, the speaker can’t meet.’ 

“So, in the hallway they saw him yesterday. They tried to talk to him. No, he wouldn’t talk. Right now he is just doing nothing, and doing nothing is not an option when people are dying – in Missouri, our veterans all across the country.

“I mean, there’s a moral obligation here; when the government poisons you, the government should do something about it. It’s like if they take your house: if they take your house, they’ve got to pay for it. It’s basic justice. It’s in our Constitution. And right now, Mike Johnson’s just not doing a thing.

“Last week they allowed the whole program to expire, which means if you’re a veteran in this country and your government exposed you to nuclear radiation in the line of duty, now you get nothing. If you’re sick and have cancer because of it – nothing. 

“The government just says, ‘Hey, good luck to you. We’re killing you, but sorry.’ They’re saying the same thing to people right here in Missouri. Everybody in St. Louis and St. Charles who’s been exposed to all of that nuclear radiation, in Coldwater Creek and elsewhere, the government is just saying, ‘Hey, good luck. We’re not responsible.’

“That’s all because the House is not acting. They need to pass my legislation to compensate the people of Missouri and our veterans.”


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