A resolution from two congressional representatives from Florida urging Germany to “fulfill its moral responsibility to Holocaust survivors and urgently provide the financial resources necessary to ensure that Survivors live in dignity and comfort in their remaining years” cleared a key committee vote this week.
Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Democrat Ted Deutch in the House, both from South Florida, introduced the resolution last month. The bill is being championed by Florida Democrat Bill Nelson and Maine Republican Susan Collins in the Senate.
More than 35 members of the House have lined up to back the bill. Co-sponsors from Florida include Republicans Gus Bilirakis, Carlos Curbelo and Ron DeSantis and Democrats Lois Frankel, Alan Grayson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson.
When they brought out the resolution’s sponsors said Germany needs to do more for Holocaust survivors, pointing to exchanges they had with the German Finance Ministry back in December. At that time, the German government conceded “recent experience has shown that the care financed by the German government to date is insufficient” and that “it is imperative to expand these assistance measures quickly given the advanced age of many of the affected persons." The German government is currently in talks with the Claims Conference about funding for Holocaust survivors.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee, which Ros-Lehtinen used to chair, passed the resolution on Wednesday without opposition.
“Germany is a close U.S. ally, and since the 1950s, it has accepted its moral responsibility to Holocaust survivors,” Ros-Lehtinen said on Wednesday after the vote. “However, even by its own admission, the German government’s efforts to address the medical, mental and home care needs of all Holocaust survivors have been woefully inadequate. Nearly half of all survivors worldwide live at or below the poverty level and have little time to continue to wait for the bureaucracy and cut through the red tape. Survivors deserve better than that; they deserve to live out their days in dignity and comfort, and that is why my bipartisan resolution urging the German government to honor its obligations to Holocaust survivors and fully and immediately fund survivors’ needs passed unanimously out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. I will continue to fight for all Holocaust survivors until they get the justice they so rightly deserve and I look forward to the swift passage on the House floor of the resolution that my friend, Congressman Ted Deutch, and I have authored.”
“I thank my colleagues on the Committee for recognizing the imperative nature of this bipartisan resolution and moving swiftly and unanimously to send it to the floor of the House of Representatives,” Deutch said. “There is no time to waste. Right now, the German government is negotiating how to meet the needs of Holocaust survivors for the rest of their lives. This resolution will send a strong message that Congress is closely watching these negotiations and expects an agreement that meets the growing needs of this most vulnerable population in full.”