Shaheen & Rubio Urge State Department to Follow Through on its Commitment to Provide Care & Benefits to Injured Federal Employees Who Served in Chinese & Cuban EmbassiesMay 19, 2020
(Washington, DC)— U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, recently sent a letter to Secretary of State Pompeo urging the State Department provide long-term emergency care for all U.S. Government employees who experienced mysterious brain injuries while serving at U.S. Embassies in China and Cuba. The State Department indicated earlier this year that only State Department officials would be covered, despite Congress' intent in 2020 Appropriations law that all U.S. Government employees under Chief of Mission authority at the time of injury receive compensation. This language, which provides health care and disability benefits to injured federal employees—and their dependents—who served overseas, was included by Senator Shaheen.
Currently, a group of over 40 employees have been designated by the U.S. Government as suffering injuries as a result of a hostile action or health incident while serving in China and Cuba, however the State Department has decided to only provide benefits provided by the Shaheen law to State Department employees while excluding affected Department of Commerce and Department of Agriculture employees and their dependents.
The senators’ letter reads in part, “those affected are relying on commitments made by our government to ensure their long-term care. The Department’s recent decision to limit the application of these benefits not only falls far short of the responsibility our government has to these employees and their families, but it contravenes Congress’ clear intent to protect and care for all employees affected by these injuries.”
The senators stressed the severity of the injuries that many of these federal employees and their families have experienced: “given the sensitivity of the brain and its neural pathways, as well as the demonstrated medical conditions of several affected employees, there is reason to believe that injured federal employees’ conditions will deteriorate, not improve, over time.”
“After all, each of these government employees were injured while serving our country overseas. Granting these benefits is the least that we can do to provide them and their families with peace of mind as they work to recover,” the letter concludes.
The Shaheen-Rubio letter can be read in full here.
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