House Unanimously Passes Schiff, Nunes, and Meeks’ HAVANA Act to Support Victims of Anomalous Health Incidents
Today, Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, applauded the passage of the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks Act of 2021, or the HAVANA Act. The bill will grant additional authority to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Secretary of State to provide disability benefits to Americans afflicted by the anomalous health incidents in Havana, Cuba and around the world.
The bill, introduced by Schiff, Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the Ranking Member on the Intelligence Committee, and Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the House today by unanimous vote. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and it passed the Senate in June by unanimous consent. It will now be transmitted to President Biden for signature.
“There’s no higher priority than ensuring the safety of our people, and the individuals who’ve served our country now suffering from these troubling health incidents deserve answers and our support,” said Chairman Schiff. “As our committee continues to seek out those answers, this legislation will give victims and their families the support needed to move forward. I applaud the House and Senate for acting swiftly on this issue of utmost national importance, and the bipartisan effort that resulted in additional assistance for these public servants.”
"Intelligence Community officers deserve full support when they suffer injuries, including brain injuries, while serving their country. This bill will ensure that happens and guarantee that these patriotic Americans can get the best care possible," said Ranking Member Nunes.
“Our intelligence officials and diplomats suffering from this syndrome became ill while in service to our country. Though we must continue to investigate what’s causing US personnel to experience these neurological symptoms, we have a responsibility to ensure that they are taken care of and are compensated for the injuries they’ve sustained. I am proud to have joined Chairman Schiff on this legislation to help provide affected public servants with that support, and will continue to work towards understanding the source of these incidents we’re seeing happen at US missions around the world,” said Chairman Meeks.
"The people who serve our nation overseas are genuinely worried for themselves and their families, and they need to know we have their backs. That starts with passing this bill; but more is still needed. We must call these heinous attacks what they are – attacks. And those responsible need to know there will be consequences, and that the United States will take strong action when Americans are attacked wherever in the world they may be,” said Congressman Michael McCaul, Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
This measure provides a technical but important fix to existing benefits statutes, which could frustrate compensation for Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) arising in connection with anomalous health incidents. In 2020, the final Intelligence Authorization Act for 2018, 2019, and 2020 passed by the whole Congress included Section 6412 – a House Intelligence Committee provision of the Intelligence Authorization Act which created special authority for DCIA to increase workers’ compensation payments to certain injured personnel and their dependents; this legislation builds on that provision.
This is one of many steps that the House Intelligence Committee is taking to address anomalous health incidents. The Committees have engaged in a long-running, regular dialogue and oversight work with both current and former U.S. personnel who have offered first-hand accounts of the anomalous health incidents and related matters, including the Executive Branch’s provision of medical care to those affected, as well as investigative and other activities to identify these incidents’ cause or causes.
A copy of the legislation can be found here.