Josh Hawley Goes After Mitch McConnell in Tense Private Meeting: ‘I Was Very Direct’

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri said he was “very direct” with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a tense private meeting between the pair on Thursday evening in Washington.

At the heart of the disagreement is Hawley’s insistence that people in his state who are suffering from radiation exposure due to government activity around St. Louis during and since World War II are still struggling with health issues and deserve compensation, he said.

Hawley wants to renew a program to compensate them and people struggling in other states.

McConnell does not approve of the cost of the program.

Hawley recently asked his Senate colleagues to vote to reauthorize the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which would assist Missourians who have suffered from health effects from the enrichment of radiation in their state that began during the Manhattan Project.

The senator said Thursday on his website that he recently found the support of most of his Senate colleagues in regard to reauthorizing the act to provide “critical funding” to “American victims of government-caused radiation.”

Hawley also said on his X page Thursday it appeared as if a vote to reauthorize RECA will come next week.

The Hill reported Thursday that Hawley went to McConnell’s Senate office to confront him over his opposition to the bill – which has bipartisan support among 61 senators.

After the meeting, Hawley vented to reporters outside and reminded them that McConnell had never complained about sending billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine and that the RECA reauthorization act was recently removed from a larger defense spending bill.

“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 said.

The senator continued about what he told McConnell:

“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.”

Hawley added, “[McConnell] brought up the cost, and I said 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,” the Missouri Republican concluded. “I was very direct.”

RECA will expire this spring, and McConnell reportedly will make no effort to block a vote to renew it.

As The Associated Press reported last July, there is an ongoing effort to clean up soil and water sources in eastern Missouri eight decades after Mallinckrodt Chemical Works first began to enrich uranium for America’s first atomic bomb program. Not only have former employees and their families suffered from rare cancers in the decades since, but people in the surrounding area have struggled with cancer and other illnesses.

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This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.


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