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  Friends Committee on National Legislation  
 

Dear Friend, 

From 1945 to 1962, the U.S. government conducted more than 200 above-ground nuclear tests. Radiation spread for thousands of miles.  

Surrounding communities were not warned of the danger. Those exposed to nuclear fallout are still dealing with the deadly consequences of these detonations today. Few have been compensated.  

Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) in 1990 to help victims of nuclear testing and uranium mining. But victims, known as “downwinders,” in highly irradiated places like Idaho, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, and Guam have never been able to apply for this critical support.  

Thanks to the persistent advocacy of downwinders and their allies—including FCNL advocates—we are beginning to see some progress. Congress renewed the existing RECA program earlier this year, ensuring that it would continue to be available to those currently covered by the law. Then, on Sept. 8, a top federal official publicly acknowledged the government’s role in exposing thousands of New Mexico residents to cancer-causing radiation for the first time.  

This week, FCNL’s nuclear disarmament and Pentagon spending team—Allen Hester and Vlad Salas Moreno—accompanied victims of nuclear testing as they met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Together they called on Congress to extend and expand RECA.  

Downwinder advocates meet with staff from Rep. Escobar's officeDownwinder advocates from Texas in lobby visit
Downwinders met with members of the Texas congressional delegation this week. (Photos: Allen Hester)

The RECA Amendments Act (H.R. 5338) would expand eligibility to more impacted people and extend the program for 19 years. It would be a significant step toward acknowledging and redressing the full scope of harm caused by U.S. nuclear testing and uranium mining. For people with radiation-related cancers, this compensation can make the difference in getting the medical care they need. 

Frontline communities are making their voices heard loud and clear. We must fulfill our commitment to the downwinders, uranium workers, and atomic veterans whose health was sacrificed decades ago for our government’s nuclear weapons program. Urge your members of Congress to pass H.R. 5338 before time runs out for these victims.  

Write Congress

Elsewhere 

21 Years at War 
On this weekend, 21 years ago, President George W. Bush signed the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which sent us to war in Afghanistan, into law. FCNL Program Assistant Kevin Snow writes about how this 60-word resolution impacted his community and the lives of people worldwide. Read his reflection on the losses of the failed War on Terror. 

Biden Admin Rolls Back Harmful Public Charge Rule 
In return to long-standing practice, the Biden administration announced plans to roll back a Trump-era policy that penalized immigrants who accessed some health, nutrition, and housing programs while seeking legal status. The punitive “public charge rule” caused confusion and fear and kept families from accessing programs their children need and are entitled to. The new rule goes into effect on Dec. 23 and is needed to ensure access, care, and well-being for immigrants and their families. 

Yemen Truce is Working  
The UN Security Council highlighted the positive impacts of the current truce in Yemen, including a 60% reduction in casualties. With the current ceasefire set to expire on Oct. 2, the United States must use all existing leverage to help extend the truce and revive peace talks. Urge Congress to support the Yemen War Powers Resolution. 

Strengthening Democracy this Election Year 
As the November elections approach, the fault lines in our democracy are increasingly evident. Join us on Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m. EDT to discuss how Quakers are being led to respond to threats to our democracy.  

We’re Hiring - Director of Strategic Advocacy 
FCNL seeks a dynamic, well-organized individual with seven or more years of experience in advocacy, organizing, and management to grow our integrated lobbying and network engagement around the country. Know someone who would be great? Please encourage them to apply! 

Jessie Palatucci

Sincerely,

Jessie Palatucci

Director of Digital Communications

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