Senate Passes Kennedy-Alexander Amendment to Aid Sick Nuclear Weapons Workers

Posted on September 21, 2007

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today praised the passage of Senate legislation to help sick nuclear weapons workers in Tennessee navigate the bureaucracy of the claimant process. The Senate this week approved a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 that will help the sick nuclear weapons workers while providing advice to the Secretary of Labor and Congress on ways to improve the current claimant system. “This is good news for our Cold-War era heroes and their families,” Alexander said. “We shouldn’t stop finding and helping these sick Tennessee workers who served our nation. This amendment ensures that we will continue to provide aid to those who deserve compensation while we work to improve the current system.” Alexander is an original cosponsor of the amendment offered by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) to extend by five years the authorization of the Office of the Ombudsman for Part E – an independent office located within the Department of Labor. This office was created as part of legislation -- the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICPA) Reform Act of 2004 – that was cosponsored by Alexander. This office was created as part of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA), tasked with compensating American Cold War-era workers who are experiencing health complications. The Kennedy-Alexander amendment will extend the authorization of the Office of the Ombudsman for Part E through October 28, 2012. Without this amendment, the Ombudsman office would sunset October 28, 2007. The Ombudsman is responsible for: • Conducting outreach to claimants and potential claimants; • Making recommendations to the Secretary of Labor about where to locate resource centers for the acceptance and development of claims; • Submitting an Annual Report to Congress by February 15, setting forth the number and types of complaints, grievances and requests for assistance received by the Ombudsman, and an assessment of the most common difficulties encountered by claimants and potential claimants under Part E during the previous year.