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Perlmutter Continues Work on Behalf of Rocky Flats Workers with Amendment to NDAA
Washington, D.C. – As part of the National Defense Authorization Act which passed the U.S. House of Representatives today, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) successfully included an amendment on behalf of Rocky Flats workers and other Cold War patriots to improve the Energy Employees Occupational Illness and Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA).
During the Cold War, approximately 600,000 Americans were employed at atomic weapons program facilities in the U.S., including thousands of workers at the former Rocky Flats plant in Colorado. Many of these workers were unknowingly exposed to radioactive and toxic substances, and as a result, developed debilitating and often terminal illnesses. These workers are due compensation and medical benefits under EEOICPA, however, the law has been riddled with procedural inconsistencies and delays, preventing workers from successfully submitting their claims and receiving their hard-earned benefits.
“These workers risked their lives to protect our nation and helped end the Cold War. We owe these patriots the compensation and care they need and deserve as they deal with the health consequences and other side effects related to their service to our country,” said Perlmutter.
Perlmutter helped create the Advisory Board on Toxic Substances and Worker Health, established in 2015, to reduce red tape faced by workers seeking compensation for illnesses developed as a direct result of their jobs. The Advisory Board, comprised of scientists, medical professionals and former nuclear weapons workers, has improved transparency and made several recommendations to improve the administration of the program. Perlmutter’s amendment would make several adjustments to better empower the Advisory Board, improve the claims process for workers, and expand transparency at the Department of Labor. It would also extend the authorization for the Office of the Ombudsman which serves as a key advocate for former nuclear weapons workers. The office is set to expire in October.
The amendment is one of more than 400 amendments considered during debate on the National Defense Authorization Act. The NDAA is a $733 billion defense spending bill which includes several key provisions to support our men and women in uniform such as a 3.1% pay raise for the military, improvements to military family housing, and a repeal of the existing law requiring military surviving spouses to forfeit all or part of their military Survivor Benefit Plan annuity (commonly known as the SPB/DIC offset). The legislation also requires the Department of Defense to assess current climate vulnerabilities and develop a comprehensive risk mitigation plan. Importantly, the bill also prohibits funding for the construction of a barrier along the southern U.S.-Mexico border, prohibits DoD funds to house unaccompanied minors who have been separated from their parent or legal guardian, and requires DoD to certify any housing of unaccompanied minors meet the standards of the Department of Health and Human Services.