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Navajo Nation to enter special session ahead of RECA sunset on June 10

Coverage of tribal natural resources is supported in part by Catena Foundation

This Monday, the Navajo Nation Council is entering a special session to vote on an emergency resolution that would be hand-delivered to U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson before the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, or RECA, sunsets on June 10.

Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren wants council delegates to formally vote in support of an already-passed Senate bill, sponsored by Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, that would expand RECA and extend it until 2030.

The bill’s fate is now in the hands of the House.

Justin Ahasteen serves as the executive director for the Navajo Nation Washington Office. He believes this council resolution, backing Hawley’s bill, will pass unanimously. Both Nygren and Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council Crystalyne Curley are prepared to deliver it, from Window Rock to Capitol Hill, personally.

“He plans on hand-delivering that resolution to Speaker Johnson’s office,” said Ahasteen, “to again, reemphasize that the United States has a moral obligation not just to the Navajo Nation, but to all Americans, who have been adversely affected by uranium mining.”

However, Johnson has already scheduled a floor vote on a different House bill, supported by Republican members from Utah’s congressional delegation, that would only extend RECA by two years.

“The United States has a treaty with us. They're supposed to provide health care and make sure that we live good lives, and that's what we agreed to at Fort Sumner,” added Ahasteen, “And if the government is not going to honor its commitment, it’s again, just another broken promise, so that’s really the intent behind this legislation is to garner support for the Hawley bill, also reemphasize the need to get this done.”

Gabriel Pietrorazio is a correspondent who reports on tribal natural resources for KJZZ.