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Mike Johnson Urged To Advance Bipartisan Bill For Nuclear Test Victims

Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) admits she doesn’t have a lot in common politically with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). But, she says, sometimes that doesn’t matter.

“Our communities share a common bond of the injustice and harms caused by nuclear testing,” Leger Fernández told HuffPost Wednesday. “That common bond means we share a common purpose in this legislation.”

The legislation in question would extend a program to compensate victims of WWII- and Cold War-era U.S. nuclear weapons production and testing, and expand the program’s scope to include previously excluded victims. It passed the Senate easily in March and is supported by the White House, but its fate in the House likely rests on whether House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) wants to bring it up.

Johnson has given no public hints as to which way he’s leaning, but time is running out for the program, which was created in 1990 and has compensated about 40,000 people so far. The program was extended for two years in 2022, and claims can only be made through June 10.

The issue of who was compensated for theharmful collateral effects of the creation and testing of the U.S. nuclear arsenal ― and who wasn’t ― gained new prominence last year in part due to the Academy Award-winning film “Oppenheimer.” The film dramatized scientists’ race to make the first atom bomb, but was criticized for not showing the impact on residents near Trinity, the New Mexico site of the first test.

Advocates for so-called “downwinders” — people who were downwind of Trinity or a similar Cold War site in Nevada, but who are not currently eligible for compensation — were set to meet with Johnson staffers Thursday. Leger Fernández said she also talked with Johnson Tuesday.

“He listened

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