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BREAKING: Senate Passes Shaheen-Backed Bill to Support Victims of ‘Havana Syndrome’

   **The legislation supports U.S. Intelligence and Diplomatic staff who have suffered head injuries from likely directed energy attacks in Cuba, China and elsewhere**

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Senate unanimously passed bipartisan legislation to support American public servants who’ve incurred brain injuries from probable directed-energy attacks. The Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act, co-authored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), would authorize additional financial support for injured individuals.  

The HAVANA Act would authorize the CIA Director, the Secretary of State and other Department Heads to provide injured employees with additional financial support for brain injuries. Both the CIA and State Department would be required to create regulations detailing fair and equitable criteria for payment. This legislation would also require the CIA, State Department and other Department Heads to report to Congress on how this authority is being used and if additional legislative or administrative action is required.   

“It is shameful and unacceptable that so many American public servants and their families who are suffering from these mysterious brain injuries have gone without access to the assistance they need and deserve. That must change, and today, the Senate took an important step forward to help right that wrong,” said Shaheen. “Securing appropriate support for those injured has been a priority of mine for years, and I’m glad to partner with Senator Collins and this bipartisan group of lawmakers to build on that progress and help provide additional compensation for afflicted U.S. personnel. This bipartisan bill helps create a uniform response to these attacks, and I’ll keep working across the aisle to get to the bottom of these attacks and to support those suffering from critical injuries.”      

“Havana Syndrome” is the term given to an injury that first surfaced among more than 40 U.S. Embassy staff in Havana, Cuba, beginning in 2016. Since then, at least a dozen U.S. diplomats at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou suffered symptoms “consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radiofrequency energy,” and, according to press reports, there have been more than 130 total cases among American personnel, including on U.S. soil. Symptoms have included severe headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, visual and hearing problems, vertigo and cognitive difficulties, and many affected personnel continue to suffer from health problems years after the attacks. The HAVANA Act would give the CIA Director, the Secretary of State and other agency heads additional authority to provide financial and medical support to those suffering from brain injuries as a result of these attacks.

The legislation was cosponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Angus King (I-ME), James Risch (R-ID), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Rick Scott (R-FL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

Full text of the bill is available here.  

Senator Shaheen has stood by government employees and their families who have suffered from these mysterious injuries, and leads efforts in Congress to provide them critical health benefits. In the fiscal year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act that became law, Shaheen successfully included language to expand a provision in law that she wrote last year to provide long-term, emergency care benefits to all U.S. Government employees and their dependents who were mysteriously injured while working in China and Cuba. Shaheen’s measure to amend the law followed her letter with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) last May, calling on the administration to interpret the law as intended by Congress. Shaheen also recently helped introduce bipartisan legislation with Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) to ensure wounded officers and their families have immediate access to specialized facilities at Walter Reed.

On the TODAY Show last year, Shaheen responded to the findings of a National Academy of Sciences report on these injuries and underscored the urgent need to take action to address these attacks that have targeted American public servants and their families. Despite Shaheen’s calls for former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to come before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to address what the Trump administration was doing to uncover the source of these attacks and protect American public servants, Pompeo never appeared. Pompeo also never responded to bipartisan calls in the Senate led by Shaheen to detail how the Trump administration would respond to the findings of the NAS report. During Secretary of State Blinken’s confirmation hearing, Shaheen reiterated that uncovering the causation of these attacks and assisting those who’ve been injured must be top priorities for the Biden administration. In February, Shaheen spoke with CNN in an exclusive interview on developments to uncover the source of targeted sonic attacks against U.S. personnel and their families.