U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, along with Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), hosted a press conference today to discuss H.R. 890, the Tom Lantos Justice for Holocaust Survivors Act. Chairman Ros-Lehtinen and Congressman Deutch were joined by a group of Holocaust survivors who shared harrowing accounts of their experiences during the Holocaust and their struggle to receive justice from insurance companies that have denied their Holocaust-era claims. The bipartisan legislation seeks to provide Holocaust survivors a means to pursue claims against insurance companies. Ros-Lehtinen made the following statement at the press conference:
"We are here to address one of the lingering injustices of the Holocaust.
"Seven decades after the conclusion of World War II, survivors in the United States continue to be treated like second class citizens. These courageous individuals, who persevered through the cruelty and torture of the Nazis, are being denied their constitutional right to bring suit against insurance companies that have failed to honor Holocaust-era policies. These insurance policies were meant to provide survivors and their families with protection for the future.
"Instead, in the aftermath of the Holocaust, these unpaid policies remain one of the starkest reminders of the devastation of Nazi Germany, and those who sought to profit from the crimes of the Nazis. My district is home to one of the largest communities of Holocaust survivors in the country. They have told me about their pain, their frustration, and their disillusionment. All they want is the opportunity to bring their cases before an unbiased judge, who will examine the case with the transparency and accountability of the U.S. court system.
"So I have introduced legislation, with my good friend and Florida colleague Rep. Ted Deutch, which would restore survivors' right to bring suit in Federal court. This legislation does not award any money or pre-judge any case. It simply gives these courageous individuals the ability to exercise their constitutional rights, just as every other American citizen would be able to do in the same situation. This legislation passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously.
"It is far past time to bring this legislation, through the House, through the Senate, and to the President's desk and give our survivors justice they have been denied for too long. And with most survivors in their eighties and nineties, we are running out of time to ensure that survivors see justice. We need to stand by them and the rights and protections that they deserve.
"No remedy can heal the wounds, but we can take steps to prevent companies from being enriched by the Nazis at the expense of their victims."