Shaheen Secures Long-Term, Emergency Care for U.S. Government Employees & Dependents Who Were Injured While Serving in China & Cuba in Government Funding Bill

December 16, 2019

Shaheen has led efforts in the Senate to provide care, leave and benefits to federal government employees and family members suffering from brain injuries received in Cuba and China under mysterious circumstances.

(Washington, DC)—U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Appropriations and Foreign Relations committees, issued the following statement after successfully securing language to provide long-term, emergency care benefits for injured U.S. Government employees serving overseas and their dependents in the recently announced bipartisan and bicameral omnibus appropriations bills. These 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. The final text of the legislation was released just moments ago and will soon be voted on by the House and Senate. Over 40 U.S. government employees are affected, not including dependents.

“These injuries, and subsequent treatment by the U.S. Government, have been a living nightmare for these dedicated public servants and their families,” said Shaheen. “Our diplomats, personnel and their families in China and Cuba experienced mystifying injuries while serving our country, and they must be assured that our government will stand by them as they continue on their path toward recovery. It’s time to right this wrong and that’s why I pushed congressional leadership to include this provision in the bipartisan government funding legislation. There is still tremendous uncertainty surrounding the circumstances that led to these injuries, but that should in no way prevent our government from caring for those who have sacrificed so much in the line of duty.”  

Specifically, Senator Shaheen’s provision in support of these diplomats would authorize the State Department to provide the following:

  • Long-term, emergency care benefits to federal employees that were injured as a part of their duties in China and Cuba;
  • Allow dependents of these employees to receive benefits if their primary insurance denies their claims; and
  • Would also allow USG employees to receive compensation if their injuries preclude them from working a full work schedule.

In March, CBS 60 Minutes reported on the first-hand accounts of the diplomats serving in China who have experienced these alarming health conditions and the disturbing lack of care and support from the U.S. government, despite the fact that their symptoms appear to match those of U.S. diplomats who were working in Havana, Cuba. The 60 Minutes report featured a letter from Senator Shaheen to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting that the State Department “re-examine the cases from China … and provide all injured personnel with equal access to treatment, leave and benefits.”