Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Florida’s Senators Pushing Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., is working with Florida’s two U.S. senators and U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., on a bill helping Holocaust survivors and their heirs with insurance claims.

Last month, Rosen, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., showcased their support of the “Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act.” Rubio had worked with then U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who lost to Scott last year, and now retired U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., in recent years on the bill.

After World War Two, many Holocaust victims’ families and survivors filed insurance claims only to find them rejected due to a lack of paperwork including death certificates and policy papers which were often seized or destroyed by the Nazis and their allies. The bill from Rubio, Scott and Rosen would make insurance companies reveal Holocaust-era policyholders and permit  “beneficiaries of Holocaust insurance policies and their heirs to bring suits in U.S. courts to recover any proceeds under the policies to which they may be entitled.”

The senators weighed in on the bill last month.

“The Holocaust remains humanity’s darkest hour, leaving a permanent stain on history for all nations,” Rubio said. “We must continue to do everything we can to support survivors and their families. A large number of Holocaust-era insurance claims remain unpaid, and Congress must act to ensure that survivors can have their day in court to retrieve the amount their families are rightfully owed.”

“Never Again means never forgetting those who survived the horrors of the Holocaust. I’m proud to cosponsor this bipartisan legislation which will help empower survivors and their families,” Rosen said. “Whether it’s increasing funding for the Holocaust Survivor Assistance program or improving access to health care services for Holocaust survivors experiencing trauma, I will continue working to provide Holocaust survivors with full support and enable them to live their lives with the dignity and care they deserve.”

“The Holocaust is more than a history lesson; it is a stark reminder that evil and hate exist in this world,” Scott said. “As governor of Florida, I took a stand against discrimination and prohibited state agencies and local governments from contracting with companies boycotting Israel, because supporting Israel should never be a partisan issue. And as U.S. senator, I will continue to support Israel and take action against those who wish to do them harm. I’m proud to work with Senator Rubio to introduce the Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act as we continue to do everything in our power to support the survivors and their families. Our memory and support of all of those who suffered must never weaken.”

“For so many years, we Holocaust survivors have felt abandoned and forgotten. We are grateful to Senators Rubio, Rosen, and Scott for filing this important legislation to require insurers who profited from the Holocaust to finally be accountable. We pray the rest of the Senate and the House will listen to us and restore our rights and dignity,” said David Schaecter, a Miami resident who is the president of the Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA.

“We have been fighting to be able to find the truth about our families’ insurance policies for more than 20 years. It is unthinkable that Holocaust Survivors, including many who are also veterans of the U.S. military, are second class citizens today. We are grateful that Senators Rubio, Rosen, and Scott will be pushing for legislation to ensure that we are able to reclaim our family legacies,” said David Mermelstein, the president of the Holocaust Survivors of Miami-Dade County.

The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee last month.

At the end of last week, Wasserman Schultz filed the companion bill which has the support of U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-NY.

“Victims of the Holocaust and their families should be compensated for unpaid policies that were specifically set aside for times of trouble – not to enhance the profit margins for the insurance companies,” Wasserman Schultz said on Monday. “This legislation would provide the critically important financial support to these victims who were forced to endure the worst that humanity has inflicted on a people.”

Wasserman Schultz’s bill was sent to the U.S. Foreign Affairs and the Judiciary Committees.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

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