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Rubio, Collins, and Colleagues Applaud House’s Unanimous Passage of Bill to Support Victims of ‘Havana Syndrome’

Sep 21, 2021 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and colleagues in applauding the House’s unanimous passage of their legislation to support American public servants who have suffered brain injuries from probable directed energy attacks. The Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act (S. 1828) authorizes additional compensation for injured individuals and is applicable to U.S. State Department or Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employees at the discretion of the respective agency head. This legislation would also require the CIA and State Department to report to Congress on how this authority is being used and if additional legislative or administrative action is required. The Senate unanimously passed the HAVANA Act on June 7th, and the House passed the bill today. The bill now heads to the President to be signed into law.

“Havana Syndrome” is the term given to an illness that surfaced among more than 40 U.S. Embassy staff in Havana, Cuba, beginning in 2016.  Since then, at least a dozen U.S. diplomats at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou suffered symptoms “consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radiofrequency energy,” and according to CIA Director William Burns, there have been a couple hundred cases among American personnel.  Press reports indicate that some of these cases have occurred on U.S. soil.

Symptoms have included severe headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, visual and hearing problems, vertigo, and cognitive difficulties, and many affected personnel continue to suffer from health problems years after the attacks. The HAVANA Act will give the CIA Director, the Secretary of State, and other agency heads additional authority to provide financial assistance to those suffering from brain injuries as a result of these attacks.

Joining Rubio and Collins in reintroducing this bipartisan bill were Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), John Cornyn (R-TX), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Angus King (I-ME), and Jim Risch (R-ID).

Rubio is Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a senior member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

“I am pleased to see the House of Representatives pass this important and bipartisan legislation, which will provide the CIA Director and the U.S. Secretary of State with the authorities needed to properly assist U.S. personnel who suffered attacks while serving our nation,” Rubio said. “There is no doubt that the victims who have suffered brain injuries must be provided with adequate care and compensation. Further, it is critical that our government continues the investigation to hold accountable those behind these attacks and that we immediately respond. I urge the President to sign this legislation as soon as possible.”

“Far too many ‘Havana Syndrome’ victims have had to battle the bureaucracy to receive care for their debilitating injuries,” Collins said.  “I have spoken personally with some of the victims of these heinous attacks who were harmed while representing our interests.  This is a group that, unfortunately, is growing in number. To those victims, the HAVANA Act will ensure that they receive the financial and medical support that they deserve. It also affirms our commitment to making sure that our government finds out who is responsible.”

“As we continue to look into the attacks on U.S. government personnel stationed abroad, we need to make sure that we’re providing appropriate support to American diplomats and intelligence officers injured in the line of duty,” Warner said. “This law will provide needed resources to the brave men and women of our Intelligence Community who put so much on the line to safeguard our democracy and our national security.”