WASHINGTON (AFP) - US lawmakers, at each other's throats over the Budget, immigration and other tough issues, united on Tuesday to demand that Nazis should not get Social Security benefits.
By a vote of 420-0, the House of Representatives passed the No Social Security for Nazis Act, a Bill that closes legal loopholes that have allowed a small number of World War II-era Nazis to collect government benefits even after many other Nazis who escaped to the United States were deported or prosecuted.
"While the number of Nazis receiving Social Security is few, allowing payments to continue is an insult to those who suffered at the hands of the Nazis," said Republican congressman Sam Johnson, chairman of the House panel that oversees Social Security, as he introduced the Bill.
"The House took an important step to right this wrong."
According to an anti-Nazi Bill that stalled in the House in 1999, at least eight people who were charged as former Nazi persecutors were collecting Social Security benefits as of June 1999.
Forty-four Nazis had collected the benefits in the decades prior, according to that legislation.
House Democrat Xavier Becerra, who co-sponsored the current Bill, said it was vital that the Holocaust's "heinous war criminals" be denied access to "our crown jewel" of Social Security.
The Bill would amend the law by stopping payments to those who voluntarily left the country ahead of deportation proceedings.
Identical legislation was introduced in the Senate last month and is expected to pass. It then goes to President Barack Obama's desk before Congress adjourns for the year next week.
The bipartisan Bills were introduced after an Associated Press investigative report found that dozens of suspected Nazis - including at least four living beneficiaries - received millions of dollars in benefits over the years.