With Strong Support of Florida Delegation, Congress Passes Bill Expanding Holocaust Education

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed the “Never Again Education Act” bill would have the U.S. Education Department create the Holocaust Education Assistance Program Fund, expanding middle and high school education on the Holocaust. With the bill having cleared the U.S. House in January, it is now headed to the president’s desk.

Back in July, U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., introduced the proposal with the backing of U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Kevin Cramer, R-ND. The bill would authorize $10 million over the next five years to expand educational efforts about the Holocaust with the director of the National Holocaust Memorial Museum in charge of the new program.

Over in the U.S. House, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, and U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY, introduced a similar proposal at the start of last year. More than 300 members of the House co-sponsored the proposal.

“It’s clear that the momentum for the Never Again Education Act just keeps growing,” Maloney said back in July “It is up to all of us to make sure that we teach generations to come about the Holocaust and the dangers of intolerance and hate. No one is born with hate in their hearts – it is learned. But we can prevent that if we teach about the Holocaust in all our schools and give teachers the resources they need to do so.”

Most of the Florida delegation lined up behind the proposal in the House including Democrat U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Stephanie Murphy, Donna Shalala, Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson and Republican U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Mario Diaz-Balart, Brian Mast, Francis Rooney, John Rutherford, Ross Spano and Michael Waltz.

Back in January, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the House passed the measure on 393-5 vote. Four Republicans and U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich., voted against the proposal. Every member of the Florida delegation voted for the bill except Bilirakis, Rooney and U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla., who did not vote.

“Seventy-five years ago, Allied soldiers liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau and 8,000 starving prisoners. Nazis killed 1.1 million men, women, and children, mostly Jews, in this camp alone over 41 months. The Holocaust was one of the darkest times in history, and it is imperative we never forget and never let it happen again,” Spano said after the House vote. “H.R. 943 gives teachers and educational leaders the resources necessary to teach future generations about the Holocaust. One day, our children will lead this nation. We must do everything we can to prevent history from repeating itself. That is why I am proud to have cosponsored this bill. May we continue to take steps towards defeating hatred and creating a better world.”

“On International Holocaust Remembrance Day we reflect on the past and we remember the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust. May their memories be for a blessing, and a reminder that we cannot be silent in the face of hatred and anti-Semitism,” Frankel noted. “Never Again.”

Frankel praised the bill, insisting it will “ensure that our children are taught the lessons of the Holocaust.”

The Senate cleared the measure last week by voice vote as Rubio and U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., cosponsored it.

“By passing this bipartisan bill, the U.S. Senate reaffirms its commitment to ensuring that the horrors of the Holocaust at the hands of the evil Nazi regime are never forgotten,” Rubio said after the vote on Wednesday. “It is our duty to equip America’s future generations with the facts to prevent history from ever repeating itself and to fight anti-Semitism in all its forms both domestically and abroad.”

“Anti-Semitism is on the rise in the United States and across the globe. We must act to reverse this dangerous course,” Rosen said. “The best way to prevent an atrocity like the Holocaust from occurring again is through education. As we commemorate the recent 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust, the Never Again Education Act will give schools needed resources to cover one of the darkest chapters in our history. Through education, we can provide insight into the past, and use it to prevent anti-Semitism now. I’m glad to see my bipartisan legislation pass the Senate, and hope the president will swiftly sign it into law. I will continue working on policy solutions to fight back against hatred in whatever form it takes.”

“Ensuring that the past horrors of the Holocaust aren’t forgotten will help combat anti-Semitism and hate in our present and future,” Blumenthal said. “Our bipartisan effort will help preserve firsthand accounts of the Holocaust and other primary sources, which are vital to teaching future generations about one of the darkest chapters in human history.”

 

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

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