The House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday providing additional assistance to US officials injured in a series of mysterious episodes that resulted in brain injuries.
The Senate first passed the bill on June 7, passed by Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine when the House of Representatives voted on the bill’s version. It will now be handed over to President Biden for signature.
The route came as the number of accidents continued to grow. Agent director William J. A CIA employee traveled to India with Burns and is showing symptoms according to the so-called. Havana syndrome injured earlier this month. The incidents may have been attacked by enemy intelligence, but the United States has failed to pinpoint the exact cause or who was responsible.
Authorities believe that more than 200 people could be injured in the incident. While microwave ovens or other powered devices are possible causes, administration and congressional officials have yet to identify the source of the injury, which was first observed in Cuba and is known as Havana Syndrome.
Since then, US diplomats and CIA officials in China, Central Asia and Europe, including Vienna, have been injured. At least two possible episodes are being investigated in the United States, but officials are even more unsure about the situation.
“The numbers are rising,” Adam B. Schiff, a California Democrat and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview this summer.
The bill was originally due to be passed by the House of Representatives in July, but guerrilla procedural battles have delayed the vote.
A senior administration official said Biden supported the legislation and Congress’ efforts to provide additional assistance to victims. In July, Biden contacted intelligence officials and said his government had ensured that those affected by the incident were receiving “the best care”.
Some officials have cited Russia as the most likely culprit, which Moscow has repeatedly denied. Other officials believe that multiple opponents could be held responsible.
“The descriptions I first heard from some of the victims seemed quite objective, very sober and very specific,” Schiff said. “And that’s an indicator of someone else’s bad actor.”
But he added, “We still don’t know much more than we do.”
The bill will ensure that the Biden administration keeps Congress informed of its investigation and compensates victims for their injuries, Collins said.
“Many Havana sufferers struggle with bureaucracy to treat their debilitating wounds,” he said in a statement. “For these victims, the laws of Havana will ensure that they receive the necessary financial and medical assistance. It also reaffirms our commitment to ensuring that our government appoints those responsible. ”
Some victims of the attacks said they were struggling with the government to cover medical expenses for themselves and their family members. Many praised the actions of Congress, including Mark Lenzi, the State Department security officer who injured China in a microwave attack, officials said.
“This law is important to those of us at the State Department who suffer in the line of duty and, like me, have thousands of dollars in medical bills that the State Department has denied,” Lenzi said. .
CIA Director Burns spoke openly about the importance of finding the cause of the episode and prioritizing health improvements for agency staff, including increased access to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which specializes in treating brain injuries. However, some victims’ groups say the State Department is slowly improving the way it handles cases.
Mr Schiff said the law establishes criteria for treatment and compensation. It should also encourage the government to standardize the reporting and classification of episodes.
While some officials said they were concerned that people with symptoms associated with Havana Syndrome might receive compensation or treatment, Schiff said he was more concerned about caring for those who needed treatment. Need, and the bill advocates help.
“We want to ensure that everyone affected by this anonymous incident receives the necessary medical care,” he said. That’s why we want a broader interpretation.”