WASHINGTON, D.C.— Rep. Greg Stanton issued the following statement after the House passed the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, which failed to include bipartisan updates to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.

The legislation would have expanded eligibility for the program to Downwinders living in lower Mojave County, Arizona, and extended the deadline to apply for benefits. The RECA fund, which was extended by Congress in 2022, expires in July 2024.

“Today I voted to pass this year’s NDAA, legislation that will help us keep our sacred obligation to support servicemembers and their families, and protect our national security,” Stanton said.

“But I’m profoundly disappointed that a bipartisan effort to extend RECA and expand it to Arizonans left out of the original program was stripped from the final bill behind closed doors,” he continued. “Congress has a responsibility to do right by these families, who’ve been fighting for justice and recognition from the federal government for decades. I’ll keep working to get this done.” 

Earlier this year, Stanton reintroduced his Downwinders Parity Act, which would update the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to include all the affected areas of Mohave County, Arizona, and Clark County, Nevada, and instruct the Attorney General to outline for Congress what efforts will be undertaken to educate and conduct outreach to those made newly eligible.

In March 2021, at Stanton’s urging, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the impacts of radiation exposure for Downwinders—the first time in two decades that victims in the Southwest were given an opportunity to speak before a House committee on the urgent need for justice to their communities. His Downwinders Parity Act was advanced by the House Judiciary Committee with a bipartisan vote later that year.