An unusual alliance of Democratic and Republican House lawmakers introduced a bill Wednesday that would provide disability benefits to victims of Havana Syndrome, a strange set of medical symptoms that date back to late 2016 and that officials believe may be caused by high-tech weapons wielded in various instances by the governments of Cuba, Russia, and China.
The HAVANA Act, introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Ranking Member of the Intelligence Committee and Rep. Gregory Meeks, R-N.Y., Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, would grant authority to the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Secretary of State to provide disability benefits to those afflicted by the health anomaly in Havana, Cuba and other spots around the world. The bill is companion legislation to one introduced by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.
It technically mends a perceived gap in the Federal Employees Compensation Act, which aids federal employees who suffer “the loss or loss of use of a part of the body,” yet that does not currently include bodily parts such as the brain and the heart. This issue has long been a bone of contention among government employees serving abroad.
U.S. and Canadian embassy officials were struck with Havana Syndrome, a disease with symptoms such as hearing strange grating noises, hearing loss, memory loss and nausea, in Cuba. In 2017 President Trump accused Cuba of perpetrating unusual attacks that resulted in the illnesses. He expelled two Cuban diplomats in response. Cuba has denied involvement.
Dozens of officials across the globe have been stricken by the illness, and two White House officials were believed to be struck with it in November 2020 according to CNN.