- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 7, 2014

A bill to strip Nazis of their Social Security benefits is heading to the president for signature after Congress unanimously passed it last week.

The bill will end benefit payments to those who lost or voluntarily renounced their U.S. citizenship, with Congress rushing to craft the legislation after an Associated Press investigation earlier this year discovered that Nazis who had given up their citizenship and gone to live overseas were still collecting money.

“The perpetrators of the Holocaust have no place in the United States of America and under no circumstances should they have access to our crown jewel, Social Security,” said Rep. Xavier Becerra, California Democrat and ranking member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security.

The House cleared the bill on a 420-0 vote Tuesday, and senators approved it by unanimous consent Thursday, sending it to President Obama.

The administration said Friday that it supports the idea behind the bill and is currently reviewing the text, The Associated Press reported. Peter Carr, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said the department “supports the goal of terminating federal public benefits to individuals based upon a finding that they participated in Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution.”

A spokesman from the Social Security Administration said the agency agrees that Nazis should not be receiving benefits and “stands ready to implement changes based on guidance from the Department of Justice.”

The Associated Press found Nazis who were granted American citizenship, were later found and informally expelled, but who are still eligible for Social Security benefits while living overseas. The investigation said the Justice Department had used the prospect of continued payments to entice Nazis to agree to leave the country while avoiding being formally deported.

Some of those who received benefits include armed SS troops who guarded concentration camps and a Nazi collaborator behind the arrest and execution of thousands of Jews, The Associated Press story said.

Four suspected Nazis are still alive and receiving benefits while living abroad in Europe, the investigation said.

“While the number of Nazis receiving Social Security is few, allowing payments to continue is an insult to those who suffered at the hands of the Nazis,” said Rep. Sam Johnson, Texas Republican and chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security.

Social Security is the only benefit suspected Nazis living outside the U.S. are eligible to receive under current law, a summary of the bill said.

Some lawmakers still want to know why the practice of paying suspected Nazis went on for so long.

Republican Sens. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and Orrin G. Hatch of Utah sent letters to the Justice Department and Social Security Administration on Tuesday asking how many suspected Nazis are still receiving benefits and what communication happens between the two departments on the topic.

“Disturbingly, the practice continues today,” the senators wrote. “Jakob Denzinger, a 90 year former Auschwitz guard who later became an American citizen, collects approximately $1,500 per month of Social Security payments. Denzinger has long since renounced his American citizenship and now lives in Germany, yet the payments continue.”

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