Shaheen Secures Directed Energy Attack Amendment in State Authorization Bill, Urges Committee to Support Efforts to Codify Office of Global Women’s Issues

September 14, 2022

**Shaheen is the only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has repeatedly fought Republican obstruction to advance the nomination of Dr. Geeta Rao Gupta to serve as the Ambassador at Large of Global Women’s Issues** 

**Shaheen also successfully adds amendment based on her standalone legislation that would punish individuals culpable in human rights abuses against LGBTQI individuals abroad**

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and Chair of the SFRC Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, issued the following statement after the committee approved the Department of State Authorization Act of 2022, which provides for the organization and operation of the U.S. Department of State and addresses numerous issues within the agency’s jurisdiction, including personnel, embassy security and construction, information security and cyber diplomacy, public diplomacy and other matters and authorities.

Shaheen successfully worked to include two provisions: one that would address anomalous health incidents (AHIs), which are also known as directed energy attacks, and one based on her standalone legislation – the Global Respect Act – which would impose sanctions and block travel to the U.S. on foreign individuals responsible for human rights violations against LGBTQI individuals abroad. In addition, Shaheen specifically underscored the importance of the Office of Global Women’s Issues and urged committee members to support efforts to codify the office.

“As we’ve seen in particular since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, ensuring our State Department is fully operational with the resources, management and support necessary to engage our partners and allies is paramount. Our national security requires a robust diplomatic corps and the measures included in this legislation are critical to that end,” said Shaheen. “I’m especially encouraged by the support for my provisions that address how relevant agencies can respond to AHI cases so that injured personnel and loved ones have the care they need without delay, as well as my amendment to punish foreign individuals who are culpable in human rights violations against members of the LGBTQI community. Our policies should reflect our values, which is precisely what that provision seeks to do.”

Shaheen continued, “In addition to the issues prioritized in this legislation, I raised the urgent need to fill the vacant position at the Office of Global Women’s Issues. Dr. Geeta Rao Gupta is eminently qualified for this role. It is shameful that partisan politics and falsehoods are being used to both smear her reputation and illegitimately hold up her nomination. This role has been vacant for 1,693 of the last 2,065  days – that’s unacceptable. She should be confirmed immediately, and more than that, committee members should support action to codify the Office of Global Women’s Issues to make clear how vital this office and its role are in breaking down gender barriers in the most vulnerable parts of the world. At-risk women and girls should not pay the price so Republicans can score political points.”

Shaheen’s AHI amendment would ensure that the appropriate domestic agency can designate domestic AHI incidents to improve interagency coordination in addressing these attacks. Shaheen has long worked to ensure that U.S. public servants and their loved ones suffering from AHIs receive the medical attention they deserve.

Shaheen’s most recent work to advance measures that address AHIs was included in the fiscal year (FY) 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) in June. Shaheen successfully secured $10 million to support the work of the Anomalous Health Incidents Cross Functional Team, as well as a $20 million increase to address the threat characterization and treatment of certain uniformed members, federal civilian employees and their family members affected by AHIs, who’ve faced stigmatization and adverse experiences following their ailments. The FY22 NDAA that was signed into law contained a Shaheen provision based on her standalone legislation to require the President to designate a senior national security official – now filled by Maher Bitar – to organize a whole-of-government response and direct the heads of relevant agencies to designate senior officials to lead their agency’s response to AHIs. The FY2022 law also included a measure Shaheen supported to ensure wounded officers and their families have immediate access to specialized facilities at Walter Reed. 

Senator Shaheen has been a leader in supporting American public servants who have incurred brain injuries likely from directed energy attacks. Last year, President Biden signed legislation Shaheen helped lead, the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA Act), into law. In the FY2021 NDAA that became law, Shaheen successfully included language to expand a provision in law that she previously wrote 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. 

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