Idaho Representatives Push to Extend Benefits for Cold-War Radiation Victims

Idaho Reps. Mike Simpson and Walt Minnick are pushing to extend federal benefits to victims of nuclear fallout from Cold War-era weapons testing programs.

Simpson, a Republican, and Minnick, a Democrat, are teaming with a Utah congressman in seeking a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. Simpson and Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, had a similar request rejected last year.

The lawmakers recently sent a letter to committee leaders asking that they consider expanding the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to include areas in Idaho and Utah that were hit by radiation.

The program offers payments of $50,000 to people diagnosed with 19 different cancers. To qualify, they must have lived in one of 21 counties in Nevada, Utah and Arizona during bomb testing from 1951 through 1962.

Almost 13,000 downwinders have received $645 million since 1990.