Secret Showdown: Josh Hawley Confronts Mitch McConnell In Closed-Door Meeting

By Victor Smiroff | Monday, 04 March 2024 01:45 AM
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In a recent private meeting in Washington, Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri expressed his dissatisfaction with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a "very direct" manner.

The contention between the two senators revolves around Hawley's insistence on compensation for his constituents suffering from radiation exposure, a consequence of government activities in St. Louis during and post World War II.

Hawley is advocating for the renewal of a program aimed at providing compensation for the affected individuals in his state and others. However, McConnell is opposed to the program due to its cost implications.

Hawley has recently called upon his Senate colleagues to vote for the reauthorization of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). This act is intended to aid Missourians who have suffered health repercussions due to radiation enrichment that began with the Manhattan Project. Hawley announced on his website that he has garnered the support of a majority of his Senate colleagues for the reauthorization of the act, which he believes will provide "critical funding" to "American victims of government-caused radiation."

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The senator also indicated on his website that a vote to reauthorize RECA is expected to take place next week. The Hill reported that Hawley confronted McConnell in his Senate office over his opposition to the bill, which enjoys bipartisan support from 61 senators.

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Following the meeting, Hawley expressed his frustration to reporters, pointing out that McConnell had not objected to sending billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine. He also highlighted that the RECA reauthorization act was recently removed from a larger defense spending bill.

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"We had a discussion about RECA, and I just told him directly to his face what I told all of you, which is I didn’t appreciate that he took it out of the [National Defense Authorization Act]," Hawley stated. He further expressed his disappointment with McConnell, saying, "That’s a direct affront to my state. There are thousands of people who are dying, and that he’s the problem, and that I take that personally, just on behalf of my state, and it’s not acceptable to me.”

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Hawley also mentioned that McConnell raised concerns about the cost of the program. He responded by saying, "I didn’t hear a lot of grousing about the cost when we were voting on Ukraine funding or anything else, for that matter. He called it an entitlement. I said it’s not an entitlement, it’s a compensation program for people the government has poisoned."

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RECA is set to expire this spring, and McConnell reportedly will not attempt to block a vote to renew it. As reported by The Associated Press last July, efforts are ongoing to clean up soil and water sources in eastern Missouri, eight decades after Mallinckrodt Chemical Works began enriching uranium for America’s first atomic bomb program. The aftermath has seen former employees, their families, and residents in the surrounding area grappling with rare cancers and other illnesses.

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