McCaul bill sanctions foreign persons, governments responsible for Havana Syndrome attacks

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) on Aug. 3 led 14 Republican cosponsors in introducing legislation that would impose sanctions against foreign persons and governments responsible for certain clandestine attacks on United States personnel.

Rep. McCaul sponsored the Havana Syndrome Attacks Response Act, H.R. 4914, which would require property blocking and visa denial sanctions against foreign persons whom the U.S. president determines knowingly directed or carried out such attacks, according to a bill summary provided by the congressman’s staff.

“Around the world, American personnel are being attacked in their homes, in hotels, and even on public streets. What first started in Havana in late 2016 has now expanded to more than 130 possible cases from all around the world — including right here in Washington, D.C.,” said Rep. McCaul, ranking member of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee. 

“That’s why I’ve introduced the Havana Syndrome Attacks Response Act,” he said. “We must find out who is behind these attacks and hold them responsible. And we must reassure the people who serve our nation overseas that we have their backs.”

If enacted, H.R. 4914 also would impose sanctions against foreign governments if the U.S. president determines that a foreign government has conducted such attacks. Sanctions would include a prohibition on U.S. foreign assistance (other than urgent humanitarian assistance); restrictions on commercial exports of certain items subject to U.S. export controls; prohibition on arms sales and munitions export licenses, as well and on Foreign Military Financing; and denial of U.S. credit and financial assistance, according to the summary.

Additionally, H.R. 4914 states that U.S. policy would be to detect, deter and punish such attacks; provide assistance to harmed U.S. personnel; hold responsible any persons, entities, or governments who conduct these attacks; and prioritize research into protective countermeasures, among other provisions.

Original cosponsors joining Rep. McCaul in introducing the measure include U.S. Reps. Peter Meijer (R-MI), Brian Mast (R-FL), Young Kim (R-CA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), and Andy Barr (R-KY).