House Speaker Delays Radiation Bill Vote, Missouri Lawmakers Upset

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has postponed plans to extend a radiation compensation program, drawing criticism from Missouri lawmakers who wanted the bill to include their state. Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) worked with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) to advocate for expanding the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to include additional states affected by nuclear weapons testing and waste mishandling. However, Johnson decided to delay the vote on the bill to allow for a “clean” two-year reauthorization, without expanding the program’s coverage to more states.

Missouri lawmakers expressed disappointment with Johnson’s decision, citing concerns about the exclusion of their state from the program. Johnson initially cited the high cost of expansion as the reason for postponing the vote. However, after further discussions with Wagner, Johnson’s spokesperson announced that the proposed reauthorization would not be brought to the floor for a vote.

The program, which is set to expire on June 7, faces uncertainty as Johnson’s office has not provided a clear path forward. Wagner presented Johnson with a proposal to address the cost of expansion, but the details of the proposal have not been disclosed.

Sen. Hawley, who had previously proposed a $150 billion bill to expand the program, has been working to garner support for the expansion. He later reduced the proposed amount to $50 billion in negotiations with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). While Wagner and Hawley have been advocating for Missouri’s inclusion in the program, Johnson’s decision to postpone the vote has led to tension within the Republican Party.

Wagner expressed her disappointment with the postponed vote but vowed to continue fighting for the expansion of the program to support radiation-affected Missourians. Hawley also publicly disagreed with Johnson’s decision, urging the House to pass the Senate’s version of the bill, which includes coverage for Missouri and other affected states. Despite the ongoing disagreements, the future of the radiation compensation program remains uncertain as the expiration date approaches.

Written by Staff Reports

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