Shaheen Unveils New Bipartisan Bill to Help Americans Affected by Directed Energy Attacks & Direct Unified Government Response

August 03, 2021

**Shaheen bill improves interagency coordination for efficient whole-of-government response to get to the bottom of directed energy attacks targeting U.S. personnel and their families** 

**Senator Shaheen has championed efforts in Congress to assist government employees and their families who have suffered from these mysterious injuries**

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, unveiled new bipartisan legislation with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to reform the U.S. government’s investigation and response to suspected directed energy attacks, also referred to as “Havana Syndrome,” and improve access to care for impacted individuals. The legislation would require the President to designate a senior national security official to organize a whole-of-government response and direct the heads of agencies involved in the interagency response to designate a senior official to be responsible for their agency’s response. It also would create workforce guidance to increase awareness of these attacks and strengthen avenues for reporting symptoms. The bill would authorize $45 million to support these response efforts through the Department of Defense – $30 million of which would be used to improve access to care for impacted individuals.

Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) are original cosponsors of the bill.

“U.S. public servants injured by directed energy attacks should be treated with the same urgency as any other American injured in the line of duty. They shouldn’t have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to access the care they need, which compounds the suffering they’ve already endured,” said Shaheen. “I’m proud to help right that wrong today by introducing new bipartisan legislation, which would strengthen interagency coordination and create a whole-of-government response that prioritizes victims. U.S personnel and their families who have been affected by these attacks should be able to seek the care they need as swiftly as possible – access to urgent medical services should not be adversely impacted by government holdups. This legislation builds on my work to get to the bottom of these attacks and help those who are suffering. I urge lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to join me in this effort to put U.S. public servants first to ensure their best recovery outcomes.”

“The injuries that many victims of probable directed energy attacks have endured are significant and life-altering. I have talked with many of these victims about the debilitating symptoms they have experienced. While they are focusing on their health, they should not have to battle the bureaucracy in order to receive the support they deserve,” said Collins. “This bipartisan bill would build on the HAVANA Act I authored by improving care for victims and coordinating a whole-of-government approach to identify the adversary who is targeting our American personnel.”

“As anomalous health incidents continue to wreak havoc in the lives of affected diplomats and intelligence officials, it is our responsibility to ensure that any response is commensurate with the arduous work and sacrifices that these individuals have made for our nation,” said Warner. “This legislation will ensure a coordinated, whole-of-government response to what unfortunately remains an ongoing threat to the people of our intelligence community, and to our national security.” 

“We must act urgently and swiftly to investigate the cause of these brazen attacks and better protect our personnel at home and abroad,” said Chairman Menendez. “This bill will help ensure we are connecting the dots and taking critical steps to improving the care and treatment for those who have been injured.”

“Building off of the Senate’s passage of the HAVANA Act, which I was proud to introduce with Senator Collins, it’s important we have a whole-of-government effort,” Rubio said. “This bill is an important step in the right direction.”

Specifically, the Directed Energy Threat Emergency Response Act would:

  • Direct the President to designate a senior official on the National Security Council as the Anomalous Health Incidents Interagency Coordinator to organize the whole-of-government response;
  • Require the designation of a senior official at relevant agencies involved in the U.S. government response to serve as their agency lead for the coordination of the interagency response, reporting directly to the head of their agency;
  • Mandate the development and issuance of workforce guidance to increase awareness of the threat, share known defensive measures and promote processes for individuals to self-report suspected exposure;
  • Establish a secure, interagency mechanism for personnel across all agencies to self-report suspected exposure and improve access to care;
  • Authorize $45 million in funding to support government response efforts – $30 million of which is required to be used strictly on the provision of care for impacted personnel and medical capacity enhancements.

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 (NDAA) that became law, Shaheen 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. Shaheen’s measure to amend the law followed her letter with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) calling on the administration to interpret the law as intended by Congress. In the Senate Armed Service Committee-approved FY2022 NDAA, Shaheen included language that would mandate greater congressional oversight on directed energy attack-related items by requiring quarterly reports to Congress on the ongoing investigation into causation, mitigation efforts and treatment of personnel. Shaheen’s provision also extensively speaks about the threat posed by these incidents, the importance of providing equitable and accessible care to victims, the need to develop and promulgate workforce guidance to protect Department of Defense personnel and their families and urges the President to designate a senior official to lead the interagency response. Additionally, Shaheen supported Senator Cotton (R-AK) and Senator Gillibrand’s (D-NY) successful effort to include bipartisan legislation, which Shaheen cosponsors, to ensure wounded officers and their families have immediate access to specialized medical facilities at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

On the TODAY Show last year, Shaheen responded to the findings of a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) 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 directed energy attacks against U.S. personnel and their families.    

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