Bipartisan U.S. legislators introduced a bill Thursday that would revoke Social Security benefits for suspected former Nazis, the Associated Press reported. An AP investigation last month exposed millions of dollars in benefits had been paid to dozens of Nazi war criminals, who lost their American citizenship and yet were living on U.S. Social Security. At least four are alive, living in Europe and still collecting benefits, according to the investigation.
“This is a matter of principle,” Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah told the Associated Press. “Taxpayers should not be funding the retirement of war criminals.”
The bill, titled The Nazi Social Security Benefits Termination Act, was introduced to Congress in companion with another bill that would shut a “loophole” in U.S. law requiring a final mandate of deportation to end benefits for a denaturalized individual. The U.S. Justice Department reportedly used this “loophole” as a give-and-take, in which it coaxed Nazi suspects to voluntarily leave the country in exchange for Social Security benefits, according to the AP investigation.
“We should work in a bipartisan and expeditious manner to terminate those benefits once and for all,” Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, the bill’s chief sponsor, told the Associated Press.
Mike Long, a spokesman for House Majority Leader and Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy, told the Associated Press that “we’re eager to get this done” before the start of the new Congress in January.
If signed into law, the bill would require the Justice Department and the Social Security Administration to submit a report to Congress within six months identifying the overall number of individuals found to be former Nazis and the total number of those who had their benefits canceled as a result.
The Social Security administration reportedly denied the request made last month by the Associated Press for information on the total number of Nazi suspects who collected Social Security payments and the dollar amounts. The news service has since appealed the agency’s refusal via the Freedom of Information Act, the AP said.