Rubio, Shaheen Urge Pompeo to Follow Through on State’s Commitment to Provide Care & Benefits for Employees Who Served in Chinese & Cuban Embassies
May 19 2020
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging the State Department to 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.
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 wrote, “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,” concluded the senators.
The full text of the letter is here.
Rubio is the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues.
September 29, 2017: State Department's Response to Cuba Attacks 'Weak, Unacceptable and Outrageous'