House Passes Bill to Help Civil Servants With 'Havana Syndrome'

WASHINGTON – The House unanimously passed a bill on Tuesday allowing additional support for U.S. officials who have been injured in a se...


WASHINGTON – The House unanimously passed a bill on Tuesday allowing additional support for U.S. officials who have been injured in a series of mysterious episodes that have caused traumatic brain damage.

The Senate first passed the law, urged by Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, on June 7. Because the House voted on this version of the bill, it will now go to President Biden to sign.

The transition comes as the number of incidents continues to grow. A CIA officer traveling to India along with William J. Burns, the agency’s director, was injured earlier this month, exhibiting symptoms consistent with so-called Havana Syndrome. The incidents could be hostile intelligence attacks, but the United States has not drawn a conclusion as to the precise cause and who is responsible.

Authorities estimate that more than 200 people could have been injured during the episodes. While microwaves or other directed energy equipment is a possible causeThe administration and congressional officials have not determined the source of the injuries, which were first seen in Cuba and became known as Havana Syndrome.

Since, U.S. diplomats and CIA officers injured in China, countries of Central Asia and Europe, including Vienna. At least two possible episodes in the United States are under investigation, but officials are even more uncertain about the circumstances.

“The number is increasing all the time,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, in an interview this summer.

The bill was originally slated to pass the House in July, but partisan procedural battles delayed the vote.

Mr Biden supports the bill and congressional efforts to provide additional support to victims, a senior administration official said. In a July speech to intelligence officials, Biden said his administration was making sure those affected by the incidents “receive the best possible care.”

Some officials have pointed to Russia as the most likely culprit, which Moscow has repeatedly denied. Other officials believe several opponents could be responsible.

“From the descriptions I heard firsthand from some of the victims, they sounded quite intentional, quite deliberate and very specific,” Mr Schiff said. “And that suggests a bad foreign actor.”

But, he added, “there is still a lot more that we don’t know about this.”

The bill will ensure that the Biden administration keeps Congress informed of its investigation and compensates victims for their injuries, Collins said.

“Far too many victims of ‘Havana Syndrome’ have had to fight bureaucracy to receive treatment for their debilitating injuries,” she said in a statement. “For these victims, Havana law will ensure that they receive the financial and medical support they deserve. It also affirms our commitment to ensuring that our government finds out who is responsible. “

Some victims of the attacks said they had fought for the government to cover medical costs for themselves and their family members. Several praised the Congressional action, including Mark Lenzi, a State Department security engineer who was injured in China in what some officials believe was a pulsed microwave attack .

“This legislation is crucial for those of us at the State Department injured in the line of duty who, like me, have thousands of dollars in medical bills that the State Department has refused to pay,” he said. Mr Lenzi said.

Mr. Burns, the director of the CIA, spoke publicly on the importance of uncovering the cause of episodes and made it a priority to improve health care for workers in affected agencies, including increasing access to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which has expertise in the treatment of brain damage. But some victim groups said the State Department had been slower to improve the way it handled cases.

Mr Schiff said the legislation established criteria for treatment and compensation. It should also push the government to standardize the reporting and classification of episodes.

While some officials have said they feared people with symptoms unrelated to Havana Syndrome might seek compensation or treatment, Mr Schiff said he was more worried about providing care to people who have need treatment, and Bill sins by excess of assistance. .

“We want to make sure that everyone who has been affected by these abnormal incidents receives the health care they need,” he said. “So we want it to be interpreted broadly.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: House Passes Bill to Help Civil Servants With 'Havana Syndrome'
House Passes Bill to Help Civil Servants With 'Havana Syndrome'
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