President BidenJoe BidenJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Fill the Eastern District of Virginia Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted MORE on Friday signed into law a bill that provides financial support to U.S. government officials who have fallen victim to “Havana syndrome,” mysterious health symptoms that have affected U.S. personnel in various parts of the world.
“We are bringing to bear the full resources of the U.S. Government to make available first-class medical care to those affected and to get to the bottom of these incidents, including to determine the cause and who is responsible,” Biden said in a written statement Friday. “Protecting Americans and all those who serve our country is our first duty, and we will do everything we can to care for our personnel and their families.”
Biden referred to the instances of Havana syndrome as “incidents” rather than “attacks” and in doing so diverged from lawmakers in both parties who have described them as attacks. Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulBiden signs bill to help victims of 'Havana syndrome' Senate Democrat says hundreds of Americans, Afghan allies arrived in Qatar after being stranded in Afghan airport Early redistricting plans show GOP retrenching for long haul MORE (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued a statement criticizing Biden for his choice of language.
“The nearly 200 victims of these attacks did not just happen to get sick. These are direct attacks on American personnel. The best way to send a message to our adversaries these attacks will not be tolerated and to our diplomats that we will hold their attackers accountable is by passing my bill, the Havana Syndrome Attacks Response Act,” McCaul said in a statement, referring to a separate bill he introduced in August that would impose sanctions on those responsible.
The HAVANA Act that Biden signed Friday passed the House and Senate unanimously earlier this year. It authorizes the CIA and State Department to provide additional financial support to those suffering brain injuries. It also requires the agencies to create regulations for making payments and report to Congress on whether additional legislative action is necessary.
Biden signed the legislation at a private White House ceremony that was attended by Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call Republicans are today's Dixiecrats Biden's push for unity collides with entrenched partisanship MORE (R-Me.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official Biden signs bill to help victims of 'Havana syndrome' Lawmakers using leadership PACs as 'slush funds' to live lavish lifestyles: report MORE (D-N.Y.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetBuilding back better by investing in workers and communities Biden signs bill to help victims of 'Havana syndrome' Colorado remap plan creates new competitive district MORE (D-Colo.), and Gary PetersGary PetersSinema fundraising in Europe as reconciliation talks 'ongoing': report Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress looks to strengthen government's aging cyber infrastructure Peters presses TikTok on how company addresses conspiracy, extremist content MORE (D-Mich.), as well as Reps. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff: McCarthy 'will do whatever Trump tells him' if GOP wins back House Jan. 6 panel to pursue criminal contempt referral for Bannon Bannon's subpoena snub sets up big decision for Biden DOJ MORE (D-Calif.) and Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Laws should unite, not divide Anti-Trump Republicans endorsing vulnerable Democrats to prevent GOP takeover MORE (D-Va.).
Havana syndrome was first experienced among U.S. embassy staff in Cuba beginning in 2016. Victims have reported a range of symptoms, including dizziness, fatigue, nausea and headache. Some 200 U.S. personnel are believed to have been affected around the globe. Vice President Harris was forced to delay a trip to Vietnam earlier this year after a possible Havana syndrome case was identified among embassy staff there.
White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Buttigieg hits back after parental leave criticism: 'Really strange' Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted MORE on Friday said the Biden administration is taking the issue “incredibly seriously,” pointing to an ongoing investigation by the intelligence community and efforts by various agencies to streamline reporting.
“We of course are determined to get to the bottom as quickly as possible of the attribution and cause of these incidents,” Psaki said. “The intelligence community is in the lead on that. They have launched a large-scale investigation into the potential causes. They’re actively examining a range of hypotheses, but they have not made a determination about the cause of these incidents or who is responsible.”
“Our focus is on implementing, starting a process that did not exist when the president took office,” Psaki said.