A proposal from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., to ensure property seized by Nazi Germany and its allies during the Holocaust will be restored to families is gaining momentum on Capitol Hill.
Rubio teamed up with Baldwin in the Senate and U.S. Reps. Chris Smith, R-NJ, and U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley, D-NY, to bring back the “Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act” back in February. The sponsors, who originally introduced the legislation back in June 2016, insist the bill “will improve efforts to assist Holocaust survivors and the families of Holocaust victims by requiring the State Department to report on the progress of certain European countries on the return of (or restitution for), wrongfully confiscated or transferred Holocaust-era assets.”
The legislation would continue efforts from the Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and Related Issues of 2009 which “affirms that the protection of property rights is an essential component of a democratic society based on the rule of law and recognizes the importance of restituting or compensating Holocaust-related confiscations made during the Holocaust-era between 1933-45.” The bill would have the State Department report on how Central and Eastern European counties are complying with those efforts.
This week, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the bill.
“The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s passage of the JUST Act is one more step toward ensuring justice for Holocaust survivors and the families of Holocaust victims,” Rubio said on Tuesday after the vote. “By enhancing ongoing efforts between the State Department and European countries, this bill will help facilitate long deserved restitution to survivors and their families whose property was stolen during the Holocaust. I applaud today’s measure, and I look forward to the JUST Act’s final passage before the Senate.”
“I applaud the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today for supporting this bipartisan effort to ensure justice is done, at long last, for Holocaust survivors and the families of Holocaust victims,” said Baldwin. “These individuals have waited far too long to recover, or receive compensation for, what is rightfully theirs, and by highlighting this issue as an American foreign policy priority, we will spur action in countries that are falling short of their obligations. I look forward to seeing this bipartisan legislation passed by the Senate as soon as possible, and ultimately signed in to law.”
The bill has the support of the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), J Street, Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), B’nai B’rith International, HIAS refugee assistance organization, Milwaukee Jewish Federation and the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation in Milwaukee.
Rubio and Baldwin rounded up a host of senators to support the measure as Republican Sens. Cordy Gardner of Colorado, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, John McCain of Arizona, John Thune of South Dakota and Todd Young of Indiana and Democrats U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Corey Booker and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Christopher Coons of Delaware, Dianne Feinstein of California, Kristen Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer of New York, Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Gary Peters of Michigan are co-sponsors.
The House version is before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee.
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