Luján Presses CBO Director, Secures Commitment on RECA

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, pressed Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Phillip Swagel to provide state-by-state cost estimates of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) program. Senator Luján has consistently raised issues over the CBO’s scoring method of the RECA program. During the hearing, Director Swagel committed to convening a meeting to further discuss the program’s cost.

WATCH: Luján Questions CBO Director on RECA

Senator Luján has introduced legislation to strengthen the RECA program since his first term in Congress. Earlier this year, Senator Luján successfully passed bipartisan legislation to extend and expand RECA. Despite two strong bipartisan votes, Speaker Mike Johnson has refused to take action or outline a path forward.

During the hearing, Luján said in part:

“Despite [RECA] being created 34 years ago, people in states like New Mexico, which is where the first nuclear bomb was tested, were left out of the program.

“Even the author of the legislation, former Senator from Utah Orrin Hatch referenced this before he passed away, about mistakes that were made in this legislation and how New Mexico is one of those mistakes of not being included and not including post-1971 workers. These Americans, many of whom were unwilling and unknowing victims of radiation exposure have waited too long for justice.

“We have yet to get a full analysis of the impact of the program. The House has refused to act. The clock ticks and Americans continue to wait. Those from New Mexico, Utah, Idaho, and many other states have fought cancer. Too many have died. All without recognition from the government that made them sick.

“Dr. Swagel, as you work to get that full score I would like you or your analysts, and preferably all of us, to get together in a room to meet with me and my staff and walk me through the state-by-state rate down of who would benefit from the RECA program.

“The score the CBO came out with the initial draft was $150 billion. This program was started in 1990. It is hard to understand without seeing the aggregated data how the program grows exponentially over a 30 year period to 75% higher. I want to make sure we have the correct receipts so we can have an honest conversation about the policy and get help to a whole bunch of people across America who this country owes a liability to, an apology to, and cost them their lives in many instances.”

ICYMI: Over the weekend, Senator Luján and the New Mexico Congressional Delegation published an op-ed in the Santa Fe New Mexican to continue building momentum for passing RECA legislation.



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