POTUS Signs the Havana Act Into Law But Hey! Where’s the Appropriation to Fund It?

 

President Biden signed the Havana Act into law on October 9, 2021. Nine days later, the State Department’s Bureau of Global Talent Management (GTM) “Care Working Group” finally sent a “Dear colleagues” letter to agency employees on October 18. Basically informing employees that 1) the Act  was signed; 2) this will go through a Federal rules-making process and inter-agency consultations and clearances” (translation– it’ll take a while); 3) there will be no interim updates (translation- don’t call us, we’ll call you).

President Biden signed the HAVANA Act on October 8th.

We know you are eager to get updates and to have a sense of when the Department will be able to offer the benefits provided under the law.

The HAVANA Act also applies to non-State employees under Chief of Mission authority, which means that our implementation of the Act will have to go through the Federal rules-making process, which is lengthy, and requires consultations and clearances with multiple other Federal agencies.  The bill also requires an appropriation in order to fund it. That appropriation has not yet been passed.

In the Act, Congress requires the Secretary of State (and other Federal agency heads) to prescribe regulations no later than 180 days after the enactment of the Act. We are collaborating with subject matter experts across the Department and the interagency to get this done. We want to make sure that the benefits will be equitable across all agencies. We’re not likely to be able to give you a lot of interim updates, but we want you to know that we are working on it, and if there’s something we can share with you, we will.

The message does not include an individual’s name, only labeled as coming from “The Care Coordination team.” We’re starting to wonder if there’s anyone in charge there, or is this a bot on detail at GTM?

#HavanaSyndrome at U.S. Embassy Bogotá: Who should be in the business of confirming these incidents?

 

Via Daily Press briefing, October 12, 2021:
QUESTION: … And can you confirm the Havana syndrome cases or deny it, or just address that in Colombia embassy in Bogotá, in U.S. Embassy in Bogotá?
MR PRICE:  …. When it comes to Havana syndrome, you will probably not be surprised to hear me say we are not in the business of confirming reports. But —
QUESTION: But I don’t understand, why are you not in the business of confirming reports? This is squarely about State Department personnel. These are happening at U.S. embassies. Who should be in the business of confirming these incidents?
MR PRICE: We are in the business of, number one, believing those who have reported these incidents, ensuring that they get the prompt care they need in whatever form that takes, whether that is at post, whether that is back here in the Washington, D.C. area. We are in the business of doing all we can to protect our workforce and the broader chief of mission community around the world.
QUESTION: So have they reported in Bogota U.S. embassy?
MR PRICE: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: Have they reported – like, are you doing all of those things for U.S. embassy in Bogota?
MR PRICE: We are doing this everywhere an anomalous health incident is reported. But we are also doing things universally, and we are communicating with our workforce. We are instituting new training modules to ensure that outgoing State Department officers know how to detect a potential anomalous health incident, they know how to report a potential anomalous health incident, they know who – to whom to turn should they need to report it, they know the type of assistance that they can receive. Their families are apprised of these dynamics as well. And as you know, the Secretary has had an opportunity to meet with some of those who have reported AHIs.
There is no higher priority that the Secretary has to the health, the safety, the security of our workforce. I’ve said this before, but even before he was Secretary of State, one of the briefings he proactively requested as the nominee for the office he now holds during the transition was a comprehensive briefing on so-called Havana syndrome or anomalous health incidents. He wanted to make sure he entered this job understanding where we were and what we had done, and importantly, what this department could do better to support our workforce at all levels. And we have taken a number of steps, including in terms of communication, in terms of care, in terms of detection, in terms of protection for our workforce, and that is something that will continue to be a priority for the Secretary.
Francesco.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, it was this building that (inaudible) spoke about those cases in Havana and then in China. Why aren’t you confirming for the sake of transparency where there are cases reported – if they are Havana syndrome or not, it’s another thing, but where there are reported incidents, why aren’t you doing that? And then I have another question on Cuba protest.
MR PRICE: So in many cases it is a matter of privacy of individuals, wanting to respect privacy. But let me just make clear that when cases have been reported, our posts overseas have communicated that clearly to the community within the embassy. We have also engaged – Brian McKeon has engaged with posts that have reported a number of anomalous health incidents. So it is not – certainly not – the case that we are ignoring this. We are just not speaking to the press, we’re speaking to our workforce, as you might expect when it comes to a matter of their health and safety and security.
GRRRR! STOP THAT BROKEN RECORD!
Excuse me, was I loud? That’s nice that they value the privacy of individuals.
Requesting a confirmation of reported cases at one post does not require that the State Department released the names of the affected individuals. Did it happen there or not? So how does that actually compromises employees’ privacy?
And while we’re on the subject of “when cases have been reported” … how many emails do employees need to send to how many entities within State/MED –MEDMR? MEDHART? MEDFART? MEDFUCKIT– before anyone get the courtesy of a response?
We regret to say this but there’s no shortage of opportunities for Foggy Bottom to disappoint these days.
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