Members of the Florida delegation are declaring victory after Germany agreed on Tuesday to provide more financial assistance to Holocaust survivors. Germany announced it would lift caps on assistance to Holocaust survivors for home care.
Earlier this year, a senator and two congressional representatives from Florida out a measure 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.”
Democrat Bill Nelson in the Senate and Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Democrat Ted Deutch in the House, all from Florida, unveiled the resolution back in April. They were joined by Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, in the Senate. Back in 2014, Nelson and Collins held a meeting of the Senate Aging Committee focused on Holocaust survivors.
The House passed the measure last month without opposition.
“Today, the House once again demonstrated its commitment to achieving justice for all Holocaust survivors in overwhelmingly passing the resolution Ted and I introduced, urging Germany to honor its obligations to Holocaust survivors,” Ros-Lehtinen, the chairwoman of the House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, said when her bill passed in early June. “It’s been over 71 years since the end of World War II, and even though they’ve lived through the unspeakable atrocities at the hands of the Nazis, Holocaust survivors today continue to face lingering injustices. It would be a travesty if humanity once again failed these individuals by ignoring their plight.
“The current system is broken and full of fraud and corruption; the Claims Conference has failed survivors, placing caps on assistance and adding unnecessary burdens on those in dire need of assistance,” Ros-Lehtinen added. “Germany needs to show its leadership and do the right thing by fulfilling its commitments and obligations to all survivors by taking action to provide mental health, medical and home care needs for all survivors directly and immediately. Time is of the essence and survivors can no longer afford these delays – they deserve to live out the remainder of their days in the dignity and comfort they deserve.”
“With one voice, the House today sent a strong message that every living survivor deserves to live out his or her life in dignity and comfort,” Deutch, the ranking Democrat on the Middle East and North African Subcommittee, said when the bill passed without opposition. “As the survivor population ages, we are at a critical moment in history, and the German government must live up to its promise to meet all the needs of survivors once and for all. Now is the time for real and meaningful action.”
Deutch returned to that theme on Tuesday.
"No amount of money can ever fully compensate Holocaust survivors for their immense and overwhelming suffering,” Deutch said. “For years, arbitrary caps on home care have kept survivors from getting the care they need. By removing these caps, thousands of survivors will receive the care necessary to be able to age with dignity in their homes. The dramatic increase in funding will make a genuine difference in the lives of many men and women suffering with serious health needs due to their treatment at the hands of the Nazis. Let's remember that we are running out of time to get survivors the care they desperately need. My colleagues and I in Congress will continue working until all survivors’ needs are met in full."
Co-sponsors from Florida included Republicans Gus Bilirakis, Carlos Curbelo, Ron DeSantis and Mario Diaz-Balart and Democrats Lois Frankel, Alan Grayson, Patrick Murphy, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson.