The U.S House of Representatives voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of a bill that would end Social Security benefits for suspected ex-Nazis. An Associated Press investigation published in October revealed millions of dollars in benefits had been paid to dozens of Nazi war criminals. The bill, titled the bipartisan Nazi Social Security Benefits Termination Act, was first introduced to Congress last month and has since found support on both sides of the aisle.
“Our resolve for justice is unyielding and our commitment to pursue what is right continues even 70 years after World War II,” said Republican Rep. Leonard Lance of New Jersey, who is a co-sponsor of the bill. Lance also said, if signed into law, the bill would “correct an injustice of two generations and right a terrible wrong in the name of the lives that were lost as a result of the Holocaust,” the AP reported.
The vote took place after two U.S. senators demanded information from the Obama administration detailing how suspected Nazis retained their Social Security benefits despite losing their American citizenship. Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Orrin Hatch of Utah wrote letters Monday to Attorney General Eric Holder and Carolyn Colvin, the acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration, asking for statistics in areas including the number of Nazi suspects who received benefits after leaving the country, how many suspected Nazis currently receive benefits and live outside the United States, information on the potential outcome of certain identified cases and details of communications between the Social Security Administration and the Department of Justice on the matter.
“We have introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to close the Social Security loophole in order to prevent this practice in the future and hope that it will become law soon,” the two senators wrote in letters to each agency, citing the AP investigation. Hatch is the sponsor and Grassley is an original co-sponsor of the bill. “However, there remain questions about DOJ’s actions and what will be done in current cases if he law is not passed before they are resolved.”
According to the AP investigation, the Department of Justice reportedly used this “loophole” as a way to persuade Nazi suspects to voluntarily leave the country in exchange for Social Security payments. The investigation found at least four suspected former Nazis are alive, living in Europe and still collecting benefits. The Social Security administration reportedly denied the AP’s request in October for information on the total number of Nazi suspects who collected payments and the dollar amounts. The news service has since appealed the agency’s refusal via the Freedom of Information act, the AP said.