[Congressional Record (Bound Edition), Volume 146 (2000), Part 9]
[House]
[Pages 12529-12534]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]



         RADIATION EXPOSURE COMPENSATION ACT AMENDMENTS OF 2000

  Mr. CANNON. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
Senate bill (S. 1515) to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, 
and for other purposes, as amended.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                                S. 1515

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Radiation Exposure 
     Compensation Act Amendments of 2000''.

     SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

       Congress finds that--
       (1) the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 
     note) recognized the responsibility of the Federal Government 
     to compensate individuals who were harmed by the mining of 
     radioactive materials or fallout from nuclear arms testing;
       (2) a congressional oversight hearing conducted by the 
     Committee on Labor and Human Resources of the Senate 
     demonstrated that since enactment of the Radiation Exposure 
     Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note), regulatory burdens 
     have made it too difficult for some deserving individuals to 
     be fairly and efficiently compensated;
       (3) reports of the Atomic Energy Commission and the 
     National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health testify 
     to the need to extend eligibility to States in which the 
     Federal Government sponsored uranium mining and milling from 
     1941 through 1971;
       (4) scientific data resulting from the enactment of the 
     Radiation Exposed Veterans Compensation Act of 1988 (38 
     U.S.C. 101 note), and obtained from the Committee on the 
     Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiations, and the 
     President's Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments 
     provide medical validation for the extension of compensable 
     radiogenic pathologies;
       (5) above-ground uranium miners, millers and individuals 
     who transported ore should be fairly compensated, in a manner 
     similar to that provided for underground uranium miners, in 
     cases in which those individuals suffered disease or 
     resultant death, associated with radiation exposure, due to 
     the failure of the Federal Government to warn and otherwise 
     help protect citizens from the health hazards addressed by 
     the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 
     2210 note); and
       (6) it should be the responsibility of the Federal 
     Government in partnership with State and local governments 
     and appropriate healthcare organizations, to initiate and 
     support programs designed for the early detection, prevention 
     and education on radiogenic diseases in approved States to 
     aid the thousands of individuals adversely affected by the 
     mining of uranium and the testing of nuclear weapons for the 
     Nation's weapons arsenal.

     SEC. 3. AMENDMENTS TO THE RADIATION EXPOSURE COMPENSATION 
                   ACT.

       (a) Claims Relating to Atmospheric Nuclear Testing.--
     Section 4(a)(1) of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act 
     (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) is amended to read as follows:
       ``(1) Claims relating to leukemia.--
       ``(A) In general.--An individual described in this 
     subparagraph shall receive an amount specified in 
     subparagraph (B) if the conditions described in subparagraph 
     (C) are met. An individual referred to in the preceding 
     sentence is an individual who--
       ``(i)(I) was physically present in an affected area for a 
     period of at least 1 year during the period beginning on 
     January 21, 1951, and ending on October 31, 1958;
       ``(II) was physically present in the affected area for the 
     period beginning on June 30, 1962, and ending on July 31, 
     1962; or
       ``(III) participated onsite in a test involving the 
     atmospheric detonation of a nuclear device; and
       ``(ii) submits written documentation that such individual 
     developed leukemia--

       ``(I) after the applicable period of physical presence 
     described in subclause (I) or (II) of clause (i) or onsite 
     participation described in clause (i)(III) (as the case may 
     be); and
       ``(II) more that 2 years after first exposure to fallout.

       ``(B) Amounts.--If the conditions described in subparagraph 
     (C) are met, an individual--
       ``(i) who is described in subclause (I) or (II) of 
     subparagraph (A)(i) shall receive $50,000; or
       ``(ii) who is described in subclause (III) of subparagraph 
     (A)(i) shall receive $75,000.
       ``(C) Conditions.--The conditions described in this 
     subparagraph are as follows:
       ``(i) Initial exposure occurred prior to age 21.
       ``(ii) The claim for a payment under subparagraph (B) is 
     filed with the Attorney General by or on behalf of the 
     individual.
       ``(iii) The Attorney General determines, in accordance with 
     section 6, that the claim meets the requirements of this 
     Act.''.
       (b) Definitions.--Section 4(b) of the Radiation Exposure 
     Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) is amended--
       (1) in paragraph (1)--
       (A) in subparagraph (A) by inserting ``Wayne, San Juan,'' 
     after ``Millard,''; and
       (B) by amending subparagraph (C) to read as follows:
       ``(C) in the State of Arizona, the counties of Coconino, 
     Yavapai, Navajo, Apache, and Gila; and''; and
       (2) in paragraph (2)--
       (A) by striking ``the onset of the disease was between 2 
     and 30 years of first exposure,'' and inserting ``the onset 
     of the disease was at least 2 years after first exposure, 
     lung cancer (other than in situ lung cancer that is 
     discovered during or after a post-mortem exam),'';
       (B) by striking ``(provided initial exposure occurred by 
     the age of 20)'' after ``thyroid'';
       (C) by inserting ``male or'' before ``female breast'';
       (D) by striking ``(provided initial exposure occurred prior 
     to age 40)'' after ``female breast'';
       (E) by striking ``(provided low alcohol consumption and not 
     a heavy smoker)'' after ``esophagus'';
       (F) by striking ``(provided initial exposure occurred 
     before age 30)'' after ``stomach'';
       (G) by striking ``(provided not a heavy smoker)'' after 
     ``pharynx'';
       (H) by striking ``(provided not a heavy smoker and low 
     coffee consumption)'' after ``pancreas''; and
       (I) by inserting ``salivary gland, urinary bladder, brain, 
     colon, ovary,'' after ``gall bladder,''.
       (c) Claims Relating to Uranium Mining.--
       (1) In general.--Section 5(a) of the Radiation Exposure 
     Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) is amended to read as 
     follows:
       ``(a) Eligibility of Individuals.--
       ``(1) In general.--An individual shall receive $100,000 for 
     a claim made under this Act if--
       ``(A) that individual--
       ``(i) was employed in a uranium mine or uranium mill 
     (including any individual who was employed in the transport 
     of uranium ore or vanadium-uranium ore from such mine or 
     mill) located in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, 
     South Dakota, Washington, Utah, Idaho, North Dakota, Oregon, 
     and Texas at any time during the period beginning on January 
     1, 1942, and ending on December 31, 1971; and
       ``(ii)(I) was a miner exposed to 40 or more working level 
     months of radiation and submits written medical documentation 
     that the individual, after that exposure, developed lung 
     cancer or a nonmalignant respiratory disease; or
       ``(II) was a miller or ore transporter who worked for at 
     least 1 year during the period described under clause (i) and 
     submits written medical documentation that the individual, 
     after that exposure, developed lung cancer or a nonmalignant 
     respiratory disease or renal cancers and other chronic renal 
     disease including nephritis and kidney tubal tissue injury;
       ``(B) the claim for that payment is filed with the Attorney 
     General by or on behalf of that individual; and
       ``(C) the Attorney General determines, in accordance with 
     section 6, that the claim meets the requirements of this Act.
       ``(2) Inclusion of additional states.--Paragraph (1)(A)(i) 
     shall apply to a State, in addition to the States named under 
     such clause, if--
       ``(A) an Atomic Energy Commission uranium mine was operated 
     in such State at any time during the period beginning on 
     January 1, 1942, and ending on December 31, 1971;
       ``(B) the State submits an application to the Department of 
     Justice to include such State; and
       ``(C) the Attorney General makes a determination to include 
     such State.
       ``(3) Payment requirement.--Each payment under this section 
     may be made only in accordance with section 6.''.
       (2) Definitions.--Section 5(b) of the Radiation Exposure 
     Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) is amended--
       (A) in paragraph (3)--
       (i) by striking ``and'' before ``corpulmonale''; and

[[Page 12530]]

       (ii) by striking ``; and if the claimant,'' and all that 
     follows through the end of the paragraph and inserting ``, 
     silicosis, and pneumoconiosis;'';
       (B) by striking the period at the end of paragraph (4) and 
     inserting a semicolon; and
       (C) by adding at the end the following:
       ``(5) the term `written medical documentation' for purposes 
     of proving a nonmalignant respiratory disease or lung cancer 
     means, in any case in which the claimant is living--
       ``(A)(i) an arterial blood gas study; or
       ``(ii) a written diagnosis by a physician meeting the 
     requirements of subsection (c)(1); and
       ``(B)(i) a chest x-ray administered in accordance with 
     standard techniques and the interpretive reports of a maximum 
     of 2 National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety 
     certified `B' readers classifying the existence of the 
     nonmalignant respiratory disease of category 1/0 or higher 
     according to a 1989 report of the International Labor Office 
     (known as the `ILO'), or subsequent revisions;
       ``(ii) high resolution computed tomography scans (commonly 
     known as `HRCT scans') (including computer assisted 
     tomography scans (commonly known as `CAT scans'), magnetic 
     resonance imaging scans (commonly known as `MRI scans'), and 
     positron emission tomography scans (commonly known as `PET 
     scans')) and interpretive reports of such scans;
       ``(iii) pathology reports of tissue biopsies; or
       ``(iv) pulmonary function tests indicating restrictive lung 
     function, as defined by the American Thoracic Society;
       ``(6) the term `lung cancer'--
       ``(A) means any physiological condition of the lung, 
     trachea, or bronchus that is recognized as lung cancer by the 
     National Cancer Institute; and
       ``(B) includes in situ lung cancers;
       ``(7) the term `uranium mine' means any underground 
     excavation, including `dog holes', as well as open pit, 
     strip, rim, surface, or other aboveground mines, where 
     uranium ore or vanadium-uranium ore was mined or otherwise 
     extracted; and
       ``(8) the term `uranium mill' includes milling operations 
     involving the processing of uranium ore or vanadium-uranium 
     ore, including both carbonate and acid leach plants.''.
       (3) Written documentation.--Section 5 of the Radiation 
     Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) is amended by 
     adding at the end the following:
       ``(c) Written Documentation.--
       ``(1) Diagnosis alternative to arterial blood gas study.--
       ``(A) In general.--For purposes of this Act, the written 
     diagnosis and the accompanying interpretive reports described 
     in subsection (b)(5)(A) shall--
       ``(i) be considered to be conclusive; and
       ``(ii) be subject to a fair and random audit procedure 
     established by the Attorney General.
       ``(B) Certain written diagnoses.--
       ``(i) In general.--For purposes of this Act, a written 
     diagnosis made by a physician described under clause (ii) of 
     a nonmalignant pulmonary disease or lung cancer of a claimant 
     that is accompanied by written documentation shall be 
     considered to be conclusive evidence of that disease.
       ``(ii) Description of physicians.--A physician referred to 
     under clause (i) is a physician who--

       ``(I) is employed by the Indian Health Service or the 
     Department of Veterans Affairs; or
       ``(II) is a board certified physician; and
       ``(III) has a documented ongoing physician patient 
     relationship with the claimant.

       ``(2) Chest x-rays.--
       ``(A) In general.--For purposes of this Act, a chest x-ray 
     and the accompanying interpretive reports described in 
     subsection (b)(5)(B) shall--
       ``(i) be considered to be conclusive; and
       ``(ii) be subject to a fair and random audit procedure 
     established by the Attorney General.
       ``(B) Certain written diagnoses.--
       ``(i) In general.--For purposes of this Act, a written 
     diagnosis made by a physician described in clause (ii) of a 
     nonmalignant pulmonary disease or lung cancer of a claimant 
     that is accompanied by written documentation that meets the 
     definition of that term under subsection (b)(5) shall be 
     considered to be conclusive evidence of that disease.
       ``(ii) Description of physicians.--A physician referred to 
     under clause (i) is a physician who--

       ``(I) is employed by--

       ``(aa) the Indian Health Service; or
       ``(bb) the Department of Veterans Affairs; and

       ``(II) has a documented ongoing physician patient 
     relationship with the claimant.''.

       (d) Determination and Payment of Claims.--
       (1) Filing procedures.--Section 6(a) of the Radiation 
     Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) is amended by 
     adding at the end the following: ``In establishing procedures 
     under this subsection, the Attorney General shall take into 
     account and make allowances for the law, tradition, and 
     customs of Indian tribes (as that term is defined in section 
     5(b)) and members of Indian tribes, to the maximum extent 
     practicable.''.
       (2) Determination and payment of claims, generally.--
     Section 6(b)(1) of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act 
     (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) is amended by adding at the end the 
     following: ``All reasonable doubt with regard to whether a 
     claim meets the requirements of this Act shall be resolved in 
     favor of the claimant.''.
       (3) Offset for certain payments.--Section 6(c)(2)(B) of the 
     Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) is 
     amended--
       (A) in clause (i), by inserting ``(other than a claim for 
     workers' compensation)'' after ``claim''; and
       (B) in clause (ii), by striking ``Federal Government'' and 
     inserting ``Department of Veterans Affairs''.
       (4) Application of native american law to claims.--Section 
     6(c)(4) of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 
     2210 note) is amended by adding at the end the following:
       ``(D) Application of native american law.--In determining 
     those individuals eligible to receive compensation by virtue 
     of marriage, relationship, or survivorship, such 
     determination shall take into consideration and give effect 
     to established law, tradition, and custom of the particular 
     affected Indian tribe.''.
       (5) Action on claims.--Section 6(d) of the Radiation 
     Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) is amended--
       (A) by inserting ``(1) In general.--'' before ``The 
     Attorney General'';
       (B) by inserting at the end the following: ``For purposes 
     of determining when the 12-month period ends, a claim under 
     this Act shall be deemed filed as of the date of its receipt 
     by the Attorney General. In the event of the denial of a 
     claim, the claimant shall be permitted a reasonable period in 
     which to seek administrative review of the denial by the 
     Attorney General. The Attorney General shall make a final 
     determination with respect to any administrative review 
     within 90 days after the receipt of the claimant's request 
     for such review. In the event the Attorney General fails to 
     render a determination within 12 months after the date of the 
     receipt of such request, the claim shall be deemed awarded as 
     a matter of law and paid.''; and
       (C) by adding at the end the following:
       ``(2) Additional information.--The Attorney General may 
     request from any claimant under this Act, or from any 
     individual or entity on behalf of any such claimant, any 
     reasonable additional information or documentation necessary 
     to complete the determination on the claim in accordance with 
     the procedures established under subsection (a).
       ``(3) Treatment of period associated with request.--
       ``(A) In general.--The period described in subparagraph (B) 
     shall not apply to the 12-month limitation under paragraph 
     (1).
       ``(B) Period.--The period described in this subparagraph is 
     the period--
       ``(i) beginning on the date on which the Attorney General 
     makes a request for additional information or documentation 
     under paragraph (2); and
       ``(ii) ending on the date on which the claimant or 
     individual or entity acting on behalf of that claimant 
     submits that information or documentation or informs the 
     Attorney General that it is not possible to provide that 
     information or that the claimant or individual or entity will 
     not provide that information.
       ``(4) Payment within 6 weeks.--The Attorney General shall 
     ensure that an approved claim is paid not later than 6 weeks 
     after the date on which such claim is approved.
       ``(5) Native american considerations.--Any procedures under 
     this subsection shall take into consideration and 
     incorporate, to the fullest extent feasible, Native American 
     law, tradition, and custom with respect to the submission and 
     processing of claims by Native Americans.''.
       (e) Regulations.--
       (1) In general.--Section 6(i) of the Radiation Exposure 
     Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) is amended by adding 
     at the end the following: ``Not later than 180 days after the 
     date of enactment of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act 
     Amendments of 2000, the Attorney General shall issue revised 
     regulations to carry out this Act.''.
       (2) Affidavits.--
       (A) In general.--The Attorney General shall take such 
     action as may be necessary to ensure that the procedures 
     established by the Attorney General under section 6 of the 
     Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) 
     provide that, in addition to any other material that may be 
     used to substantiate employment history for purposes of 
     determining working level months, an individual filing a 
     claim under those procedures may make such a substantiation 
     by means of an affidavit described in subparagraph (B).
       (B) Affidavits.--An affidavit referred to under 
     subparagraph (A) is an affidavit--
       (i) that meets such requirements as the Attorney General 
     may establish; and
       (ii) is made by a person other than the individual filing 
     the claim that attests to the employment history of the 
     claimant.
       (f) Limitations on Claims.--Section 8 of the Radiation 
     Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) is amended--

[[Page 12531]]

       (1) by inserting ``(a) In General.--'' before ``A claim''; 
     and
       (2) by adding at the end the following:
       ``(b) Resubmittal of Claims.--After the date of enactment 
     of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 
     2000, any claimant who has been denied compensation under 
     this Act may resubmit a claim for consideration by the 
     Attorney General in accordance with this Act not more than 3 
     times. Any resubmittal made before the date of enactment of 
     the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2000 
     shall not be applied to the limitation under the preceding 
     sentence.''.
       (g) Extension of Claims and Fund.--
       (1) Extension of claims.--Section 8 of the Radiation 
     Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) is amended by 
     striking ``20 years after the date of the enactment of this 
     Act'' and inserting ``22 years after the date of enactment of 
     the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2000''.
       (2) Extension of fund.--Section 3(d) of the Radiation 
     Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) is amended in 
     the first sentence by striking ``date of the enactment of 
     this Act'' and inserting ``date of enactment of the Radiation 
     Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2000''.
       (h) Attorney Fees Limitation.--Section 9 of the Radiation 
     Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) is amended to 
     read as follows:

     ``SEC. 9. ATTORNEY FEES.

       ``(a) General Rule.--Notwithstanding any contract, the 
     representative of an individual may not receive, for services 
     rendered in connection with the claim of an individual under 
     this Act, more than that percentage specified in subsection 
     (b) of a payment made under this Act on such claim.
       ``(b) Applicable Percentage Limitations.--The percentage 
     referred to in subsection (a) is--
       ``(1) 2 percent for the filing of an initial claim; and
       ``(2) 10 percent with respect to--
       ``(A) any claim with respect to which a representative has 
     made a contract for services before the date of enactment of 
     the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2000; 
     or
       ``(B) a resubmission of a denied claim.
       ``(c) Penalty.--Any such representative who violates this 
     section shall be fined not more than $5,000.''.
       (i) GAO Reports.--
       (1) In general.--Not later than 18 months after the date of 
     enactment of this Act, and every 18 months thereafter, the 
     General Accounting Office shall submit a report to Congress 
     containing a detailed accounting of the administration of the 
     Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) by 
     the Department of Justice.
       (2) Contents.--Each report submitted under this subsection 
     shall include an analysis of--
       (A) claims, awards, and administrative costs under the 
     Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note); 
     and
       (B) the budget of the Department of Justice relating to 
     such Act.

     SEC. 4. ESTABLISHMENT OF PROGRAM OF GRANTS TO STATES FOR 
                   EDUCATION, PREVENTION, AND EARLY DETECTION OF 
                   RADIOGENIC CANCERS AND DISEASES.

       Subpart I of part C of title IV of the Public Health 
     Service Act (42 U.S.C. 285 et seq.) is amended by adding at 
     the end the following:

     ``SEC. 417C. GRANTS FOR EDUCATION, PREVENTION, AND EARLY 
                   DETECTION OF RADIOGENIC CANCERS AND DISEASES.

       ``(a) Definition.--In this section the term `entity' means 
     any--
       ``(1) National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center;
       ``(2) Department of Veterans Affairs hospital or medical 
     center;
       ``(3) Federally Qualified Health Center, community health 
     center, or hospital;
       ``(4) agency of any State or local government, including 
     any State department of health; or
       ``(5) nonprofit organization.
       ``(b) In General.--The Secretary, acting through the 
     Administrator of the Health Resources and Services 
     Administration in consultation with the Director of the 
     National Institutes of Health and the Director of the Indian 
     Health Service, may make competitive grants to any entity for 
     the purpose of carrying out programs to--
       ``(1) screen individuals described under section 
     4(a)(1)(A)(i) or 5(a)(1)(A) of the Radiation Exposure 
     Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note) for cancer as a 
     preventative health measure;
       ``(2) provide appropriate referrals for medical treatment 
     of individuals screened under paragraph (1) and to ensure, to 
     the extent practicable, the provision of appropriate follow-
     up services;
       ``(3) develop and disseminate public information and 
     education programs for the detection, prevention, and 
     treatment of radiogenic cancers and diseases; and
       ``(4) facilitate putative applicants in the documentation 
     of claims as described in section 5(a) of the Radiation 
     Exposure Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 2210 note).
       ``(c) Indian Health Service.--The programs under subsection 
     (a) shall include programs provided through the Indian Health 
     Service or through tribal contracts, compacts, grants, or 
     cooperative agreements with the Indian Health Service and 
     which are determined appropriate to raising the health status 
     of Indians.
       ``(d) Grant and Contract Authority.--Entities receiving a 
     grant under subsection (b) may expend the grant to carry out 
     the purpose described in such subsection.
       ``(e) Health Coverage Unaffected.--Nothing in this section 
     shall be construed to affect any coverage obligation of a 
     governmental or private health plan or program relating to an 
     individual referred to under subsection (b)(1).
       ``(f) Report to Congress.--Beginning on October 1 of the 
     year following the date on which amounts are first 
     appropriated to carry out this section and annually on each 
     October 1 thereafter, the Secretary shall submit a report to 
     the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Health, 
     Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate and to the 
     Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Commerce of 
     the House of Representatives. Each report shall summarize the 
     expenditures and programs funded under this section as the 
     Secretary determines to be appropriate.
       ``(g) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are 
     authorized to be appropriated for the purpose of carrying out 
     this section $20,000,000 for fiscal year 1999 and such sums 
     as may be necessary for each of the fiscal years 2000 through 
     2009.''.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Utah (Mr. Cannon) and the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Utah (Mr. Cannon).


                             General Leave

  Mr. CANNON. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks 
and include extraneous material on the bill under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Utah?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. CANNON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, Senate 1515, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act 
Amendments of 2000 updates a similar 1990 law. The law now compensates 
individuals exposed to radiation from either being downwind of a 
nuclear test blast or engaged in the mining of uranium during the Cold 
War.
  The legislation we are considering today increases the number of 
radiogenic and chronic diseases compensable under the 1990 act. This 
bill increases the number of individuals and States eligible for 
compensation in accordance with the scientific and medical information 
gathered over the past decade.
  S. 1515 responds to concerns raised by exposed victims and their 
survivors, data from the scientific and medical communities, 
information gained from the Department of Justice administering the 
program, and the Government's responsibility to see that all 
individuals seeking just compensation are eligible. S. 1515 makes the 
needed changes in the existing law to give compensation to more 
individuals harmed by the Government's nuclear arms testing programs.
  S. 1515 would amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990. 
The 1990 act provides payments to certain civilian individuals exposed 
to radiation between 1947 and 1971. Those individuals include 
underground uranium miners, individuals present at nuclear blast test 
sites, and individuals who experienced fallout from those blasts in 
certain geographical areas, known as downwinders.
  Compensation is based on documented proof of the individual's 
presence in each location and on the occurrence of certain cancers and 
diseases associated with each type of exposure to radiation. In the 
case of uranium miners, they had to have experienced a certain level 
and length of radiation exposure as well.
  S. 1515 would expand the number of individuals who could receive 
payment under the act to include aboveground uranium miners, uranium 
millers, and ore transporters. It would also make changes to the 
current law to address inadequacies in the program that have been 
apparent over time.
  In 1995, the President's Advisory Committee on Human Radiation 
Experiments released its review of the

[[Page 12532]]

history of radiation experiments and testing and made recommendations 
for appropriate government responses to their findings. S. 1515 
addresses the concerns raised by the advisory committee.
  Congress has a duty to revisit this act periodically to assure that 
all individuals who should be covered are included based on new science 
as it becomes available. This legislation revises the act to address 
those deficiencies that we now know exist due to information and 
scientific data recently gathered.
  The bill before us today contains a manager's amendment which 
embodies language worked out between the majority and the minority of 
the Committee on the Judiciary concerning attorneys fees and technical 
and conforming changes. The attorneys fees provision has been changed 
from a 2 percent restriction on attorneys fees to 2 percent restriction 
on attorneys fees if only one application needs to be submitted under 
the act after enactment, a 10 percent restriction on attorneys fees if 
more than one application needs to be submitted under the act after 
enactment, and a 10 percent restriction on attorneys fees for any cases 
where a contract for services is already in place prior to enactment.
  This legislation is supported by the Navajo RECA Reform Working 
Group, the Pueblo of Acoma, the Colorado Plateau Uranium Workers, and 
the Western States RECA Reform Coalition.
  Mr. Speaker, I understand that the Radiation Exposure Compensation 
Act is an ongoing piece of legislation. It is likely that as we learn 
and document more of the effects of radiation exposure, we will once 
again revisit the issue. In particular, I recognize there are other 
counties where people believe they should be included. I am committed 
to helping these counties document the extent of their problems and 
amending the act again if we come to realize that they should be 
covered. I look forward to working with members of the other body, the 
gentleman from Illinois (Chairman Hyde) and others to continue to 
improve the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.
  This legislation will probably allow compensation to go to 
approximately 9,600 individuals who lost their health, and in many 
cases their lives, working to further this country's nuclear defense 
program. These people and their families need our help now.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as 
I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, as is often the case, I find myself in substantial 
agreement with what my colleague had just said. And in what is not 
often enough the case, for that reason I do not intend to repeat any of 
it. I realize this is a violation, if not of the rules of the House, of 
its norms. But I will nonetheless carry that out.
  Mr. Speaker, I was particularly pleased that the committee agreed to 
a modification of the language involving legal fees. We have all agreed 
to try and send this back over to the other body and work together to 
get it enacted. The gentleman is correct that further work needs to be 
done, but this is a great improvement.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. CANNON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank) for 
his comments. Did the gentleman not have someone who wanted to speak on 
his side?
  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman would 
yield, I appreciate his solicitude; but I do not have subpoena power 
and there is nobody here. There are some people who are going to submit 
statements. There were people who wanted to come, but they were called 
to votes elsewhere.
  Mr. CANNON. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, I received a 
communication from the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. Skeen), my friend 
and colleague and tireless worker on this bill. I would like to 
summarize some of his comments.
  Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from New Mexico and I both want to thank 
several people for their involvement in this bill. First of all, Mr. 
Hicks and his wife, Mr. Paul Hicks and his wife, Delfina Hicks. I am 
confident that Paul, who has since passed away, is looking down on the 
floor of the House today and smiling on the fruits of his tireless 
efforts.
  Paul, who was from Grants, New Mexico, was first a uranium miner, 
then a lead miner, a shift boss, and then finally a mine foreman. 
However, his most important work was saved for post-retirement when he 
began his tireless efforts to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation 
Act, by serving as the president of the New Mexico Uranium Workers 
Council and sacrificing his time and finances to help others. Those 
efforts are directly reflected in the legislation before us today.
  While Paul was a vocal and effective voice for the plight of the 
uranium miners and millers, he had lots of support from those on whose 
behalf he fought, numerous individuals in the private and political 
realm who worked towards the same goal.
  Former Congressman Bill Redmond introduced the legislation on which 
much of S. 1515 is modeled and which resulted in the legislation the 
gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. Skeen) introduced in this Congress, H.R. 
1516.
  Navajo Nation President Kelsey Begaye and Vice President Taylor 
McKenzie put the resources of the Nation to work for the countless 
Navajo miners and millers. In addition, Melton Martinez, Ben Shelley, 
Lori Goodman, and numerous others worked tirelessly to better the lives 
of miners and millers whose health suffered as a result of their time 
in the mines and mills.
  Mr. Speaker, the bottom line is that this legislation, like all 
others, is the result of the efforts of many to obtain a common goal. I 
am confident that the changes in eligibility requirements, amount of 
working level exposure, medical documentation, addition of fallout 
compensation, consideration of Native American law, and addition of 
millers and transport workers to those eligible for compensation will 
make a real difference to those who quietly served their country in the 
uranium mines of the West.
  Finally, I want to thank the gentleman from Illinois (Chairman Hyde), 
the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Smith), the subcommittee chairman, and 
subcommittee staffer Cindy Blackstone for their support and assistance 
in moving this legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as 
I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, first, I join in the deserved accolades for Cindy 
Blackstone for her work, because there was a little glitch that she 
helped iron out. And I note that the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. 
Udall) had intended to make a statement. He was called to a committee 
vote, and I know under General Leave he will be submitting a statement.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. CANNON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. Udall) was going to 
speak on the floor. I had hoped that we would have the opportunity to 
have a colloquy. Tom is the son of Stewart Udall, who was the visionary 
lawyer who brought the lawsuits in the first case for the downwinders 
and others and that resulted in the legislation that is before us.
  I have always felt close to Tom in particular. He is a Westerner, but 
I had the great privilege of serving in my first legal job in 
Washington, DC, as a clerk to Mr. Stewart Udall on this very case. And 
so I take this back over 2 decades when I first began. I will say that 
having read all of the documentation of all the meetings that were held 
as it related to the downwinders and the potential injury that was 
caused by our efforts, often covert during the Cold War, to expand our 
knowledge and understanding and our stores of nuclear weapons, that we 
as a Nation

[[Page 12533]]

have a serious obligation to the people who suffered, sometimes 
ignorantly, but nevertheless with serious disease and life-threatening, 
in fact, life-ending health problems; that we as a Nation owe those 
people what this bill allows for.
  Mr. Speaker, it is people like Stewart Udall who saw the problem and 
worked tirelessly to move that problem forward.

                              {time}  1145

  So I think this bill and this amendment should be a tribute to Mr. 
Stewart Udall, the father of the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. Udall).
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank).
  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, just to once again agree 
with the gentleman from Utah (Mr. Cannon), and I can attest to Mr. 
Stewart Udall's continued vigor and use of the telephone from personal 
experience.
  Mr. UDALL of New Mexico. Mr. Speaker, I speak today in support of S. 
1515, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2000. This 
revision is an important step in improving the program to compensate 
uranium workers, atomic veterans, and those who were exposed to fallout 
from atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.
  In 1990, Congress first accepted responsibility for the cancers 
caused by exposure to radioactive materials from our nuclear programs. 
The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) provided payments to 
individuals who suffered from diseases as a result of their exposure to 
radiation in connection with the federal government's nuclear weapons 
program. Although the original legislation was a good first step, the 
existing compensation program has proven to place an additional burden 
on the radiation victims. Progress on implementing RECA has been 
impeded by criteria for compensation that is far more stringent than 
for other groups for which compensation is provided.
  These brave workers were essential to our national security efforts. 
The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission was the sole purchaser of the uranium 
ore and knew in the early 1950's that levels of radon and uranium dust 
in the mines were unhealthy. We also knew atmospheric fallout was 
dangerous. These brave people, the uranium miners, millers, and 
transporters, and the ``downwinders'' were used as atomic guinea pigs. 
The United States owes a debt of gratitude to the workers and their 
families who unknowingly sacrificed their health to help win the Cold 
War. I have listened to many of these victims, who have bravely fought 
their cancers and the U.S. Government for justice.
  The Senate bill addresses some, not all, concerns with the current 
RECA program. Mr. Hatch's bill revises RECA in the following ways:
  Includes residents of areas where atmospheric nuclear testing was 
conducted;
  Streamlines current payments schedules by requiring the government to 
pay compensation to eligible victims within six weeks;
  Authorizes a grant program to provide for the early detection, 
prevention, and education of diseases caused by radiation exposure;
  Expands coverage to include uranium millers in addition to miners;
  Expands current criteria for victims of radiation exposure to include 
a wider variety of covered cancers.
  Although I support these improvements, the bill I introduced in the 
House last year would have done much more to provide justice for the 
victims of radiation-induced diseases. The bill we are voting on today 
must be accepted or rejected in total, without any amendments. As the 
Judiciary Committee stated at their markup of the bill, RECA is a work 
in progress. Therefore, in order to ensure immediate and badly needed 
improvements in the RECA program, I support the Senate bill. However, 
we all agree and recognize that improvements need to be made to the 
Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. I am especially concerned that 
uranium workers employed between 1971 to 1990 are not covered under 
this bill nor under current law and that the level of compensation 
remains at $100,000.
  My bill would have increased compensation to $200,000, which more 
fairly covers the medical expenses, hardships, and lost income to the 
victims. My bill also contained provisions to address victims of 
experiments who were exposed to radiation without their consent, and 
would have shifted the burden of proof off the victims onto the 
Government. Other changes in my bill would have removed the smoking 
distinction, and included workers exposed after 1971. Especially 
important was the requirement to take into consideration and 
incorporate, to the fullest extend feasible, the compensation claims 
process for Navajo claimants to conform to Navajo law, tradition, and 
customs. For example, claims should be based on traditional ties of 
family.
  One of the champions in this fight was a man by the name of Paul 
Hicks. He passed away recently and is unable to be with us and witness 
this victory. I also want to thank the Navajo Nation, President Kelsey 
A. Begaye, Vice-President Taylor McKenzie, Speaker Edward T. Begay, Mr. 
Phillip Harrison, Mr. Gilbert Badoni, Mrs. Sarah Benally, and Mr. 
Melton Martinez and all the others who have worked so hard on this 
effort.
  The Navajos are taught to respect, honor, and take care of their 
elders. We can do no less. Many of these workers are now dying. They 
desperately need justice. They cannot afford to wait for Congress to 
act. We need to pass this bill. Justice delayed is justice denied.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I strongly support S. 1515, ``The Radiation 
Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2000,'' which updates the 1990 
law that currently compensates individuals exposed to radiation by 
either being downwind of a nuclear test blast or by being involved in 
the mining of uranium ore during the Cold War.
  Uranium is used by our Government in the production of nuclear 
weapons. This legislation increases the number of radiogenic and 
chronic diseases compensable under the Act. The bill also increases the 
number of individual and states eligible for compensation based on 
scientific and medical information gathered over the past decade.
  I would like to address the issue of attorneys' fees in the bill. The 
original version of the bill reduces the 10% limitation on attorneys' 
fees to 2%. While I generally do not support limitations on attorneys' 
fees, I will not oppose the compromise language in the manager's 
amendment that was reached between Representatives Frank, Smith, and 
Hyde. The compromise language reduces the 10% limitation on attorneys' 
fees in the bill to 2%, but retains the 10% limitation in existing 
cases and in cases where there is a resubmission of a denied claim.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, the bill before us today is 
important because it relieves suffering and pain that is brought on by 
illness. Illness that was contracted due to activity by the United 
States government. S. 1515, the ``Radiation Exposure Compensation Act 
Amendments of 1999.'' On October 15, 1990, Congress passed the 
Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990 (RECA), which provided for 
compassionate payments to individuals who suffered from specified 
diseases presumably as a result of exposure to radiation in connection 
with the federal government's nuclear weapons testing program. Among 
those eligible for compensation under the Act are individuals who were 
employed in underground uranium mines in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, 
Utah or Wyoming during the 1947 to 1971 time period, who were exposed 
to specified minimum levels of radon, and who contracted specified lung 
disorders. The Department of Justice administers the RECA through the 
Radiation Exposure Program.
  The bill before us today, The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act 
Amendments of 1999, would reform and expand the 1990 law which was 
enacted to provide fair and swift compensation for those miners and 
downwinders who contracted certain radiation-related illnesses. Primary 
changes to RECA outlined in this bill include: expanding the list of 
compensable diseases to include new cancers, including leukemia, 
thyroid and brain cancer. It also includes certain non-cancer diseases, 
including pulmonary fibrosis. Medical science has been able to link 
these diseases to uranium mining in the 10 years since the enactment of 
the original RECA.
  This bill is a positive step in the right direction. However, I do 
have several concerns. The first is to point out that the Congressional 
Budget Office has scored this at almost $1 billion over the course of 
five years. The CBO has estimated that this bill will cost $500 million 
in the next three years. If this bill is going to pass, then the 
appropriators must do their job to ensure that the RECA fund has enough 
money to administer these claims, and relieve the suffering of these 
claimants.
  When RECA was initially passed in 1990, the principal authors of the 
legislation recognized that the federal government owed a special duty 
under RECA to the Navajo uranium miners due to the violation during the 
mining operations of the government's trust responsibilities. Thousands 
of men who were members of the Navajo nation who worked in these mines 
not only were uniformed of the extreme dangers of uranium (which is 
harmful if touched, inhaled, or digested), but were ordered into the 
mine by the American contractors immediately after blasting, when 
uranium dust was thick in the air. Headaches and

[[Page 12534]]

nosebleeds resulted, and many of these Navajo miners still suffer the 
long term effects of their experience.
  S. 1515 requires the Department of Justice to take Native American 
law and customs into account when deciding these claims. This 
legislation also directs the Justice Department to be more attuned to 
the culture and customs of American Indian claimants.
  Since the RECA trust fund began making awards in 1992, the Justice 
Department has approved a total of 3,135 claims valued at nearly $232 
million. In New Mexico, there have been 371 claims approved with a 
value of nearly $37 million. The Radiation Exposure Compensation Trust 
Fund is designed to compensate victims and their families who were 
affected by radiation fall-out from open air nuclear testing and 
radiation mining from the 1950s through the 1970s. This legislation 
extends the trust fund and establishes a grant program to states for 
education, prevention, and early detection of radiogenic cancers and 
diseases.
  This is a good bill and I fully support its passage.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. LaHood). The question is on the motion 
offered by the gentleman from Utah (Mr. Cannon) that the House suspend 
the rules and pass the Senate bill, S. 1515, as amended.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor 
thereof) the rules were suspended and the Senate bill, as amended, was 
passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

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