Reps. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) and Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) said Thursday that they've teamed up to write legislation that would prevent the U.S. from paying out any Social Security benefits to Nazi war criminals.
The bill is a response to an Associated Press report that found $1.5 million in benefits had been paid out to 28 Nazi war criminals by 1999. Some payments had continued as part of a deal under which the war criminals agreed to leave the United States and return to countries where they might be tried.
That report prompted Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) to say she was preparing a bill to stop the payments.
"It's absolutely outrageous that Nazi war criminals are continuing to receive Social Security benefits when they have been outlawed from our country for many, many, many years," Maloney said.
On Thursday, Johnson and Becerra said they were developing a bipartisan bill that would likely be very easy to pass in the House once members return from the mid-term elections.
"Like all Americans, I was stunned to learn that those responsible for the deaths of millions of innocents have received millions in Social Security benefits due to a loophole in the law," Johnson said.
"Social Security must be preserved for hard-working individuals who've earned it, not for participants in the atrocities of the Holocaust," Becerra said. "The horrific crimes of the Holocaust must never be forgiven or forgotten."
The two lawmakers said their bill would require an end to payments for anyone who was stripped of their U.S. citizenship because of participation in Nazi activities. It would also require a report on how many Nazis have had their benefits cut off.
The AP report said only four living Nazi war criminals were currently receiving benefits.