Two Democratic senators announced Thursday they will introduce legislation that would stop suspected Nazi war criminals from collecting U.S. Social Security benefits.
The bill by Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania will be offered in mid-November, when Congress returns to session after the midterm elections.
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Their announcement comes four days after The Associated Press reported that dozens of Nazi suspects collected millions of dollars in Social Security payments after being forced out of the United States.
The payments flowed through a legal loophole that has given the Justice Department leverage to persuade Nazi suspects to leave. If they agreed to go, or simply fled before deportation, they could keep their Social Security benefits, AP's investigation found. The Justice Department denied using Social Security payments as a tool for removing Nazi suspects.
The legislation to be introduced by Schumer and Casey would deny federal public benefits such as Social Security to individuals who participated in the Nazis' persecution of Jews and other civilians during World War II.
Under the terms of their bill, an immigration judge would be required to issue an order declaring a Nazi persecutor "to be ineligible for any public benefit and prohibiting any person from providing such a benefit." That order would then be sent to any government agency or office that is providing benefits or has received an application for them.
Schumer and Casey are members of the Senate Finance Committee.
"Nazis war criminals have been allowed to collect Social Security for far too long, and that needs to stop now," Schumer said. "It is simply perverse that these criminals have been able to live comfortably abroad thanks to the American taxpayer.
Casey credited AP's investigation with revealing "a gross injustice." He added that he's "hopeful that Democrats and Republicans will come together to fix this problem in the very near future."
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., has said she will introduce similar legislation in the House. Maloney also demanded Monday that the inspectors general at the Justice Department and Social Security Administration conduct an "immediate investigation" into the benefits payments.
Associated Press writer David Rising in Berlin and researcher Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report.