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The lawmakers — led by Senate International Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, rating Republican member Jim Risch, and Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen — mentioned they “are extremely alarmed that reports of these incidents continue to grow.”
“We believe this threat deserves the highest level of attention from the State Department, and remain concerned that the State Department is not treating this crisis with the requisite senior-level attention that it requires,” they wrote.
“Further, while there has been progress, we continue to hear concerns that the Department is not sufficiently communicating with or responding to diplomats who have been injured from these attacks,” they wrote. “We are also concerned that the Department is insufficiently engaged in interagency efforts to find the cause of these attacks, identify those responsible, and develop a plan to hold them accountable.”
The lawmakers known as on Blinken to nominate a brand new senior official to steer the State Division’s efforts to reply to the incidents following the departure of Amb. Pamela Spratlen after six months on the job.
“Critically, this post must be a senior-level official that reports directly to you. It is incumbent that this individual has the experience to engage effectively with affected individuals and with the interagency,” they wrote.
State Division spokesperson Ned Worth mentioned Thursday he anticipated the division to have the ability to title a brand new official “in the coming days,” telling reporters at a press briefing that “the Secretary appreciates the interest that Congress has demonstrated in this issue.”
“It is very consistent with the priority he himself has attached to this,” he mentioned, including that Blinken “has no higher priority in the health and the safety and the security of our workforce and their family members and dependents.”
He mentioned the Division has dispatched “teams of security engineers and occupational safety experts to conduct surveys and inspections of locations where these incidents have been reported.”
“We have supplied additional and enhanced inspection equipment to overseas engineering service centers, so that in the event of a report of an AHI, we can quickly dispatch that those resources,” he mentioned.
Worth additionally mentioned the division has improved its inner protocols for the Health Incident Response Job Drive, and famous the State Division’s pilot program to gather baseline well being data in order that it may be in contrast if somebody is affected by the incidents.
“Many victims have waited for this legislation to pass in order to receive access to much needed financial and medical support,” they famous. “The President’s signature and the bipartisan support behind the law sends the unambiguous message that all affected individuals must have access to benefits and financial support. We ask for your expeditious implementation of these provisions to ensure victims of these attacks are receiving equitable access to care and treatment.”
“We owe it to our diplomats to exhaust every effort to try and guarantee a full recovery,” they mentioned.
The letter was additionally signed by Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Florida; Ben Cardin, D-Maryland; Chris Coons, D-Delaware; Invoice Hagerty, R-Tennessee; Tim Kaine, D-Virginia; Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Cory Booker, D-New Jersey; and Mitt Romney, R-Utah.
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