(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, made the following statement upon introducing H.R. 6279 – the Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act of 2016 – alongside U.S. Reps. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, and John Garemendi (D-CA). Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) also introduced the Senate companion, S. 3418. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“Congress has overwhelmingly voted – for the second time – to allow the families and victims of 9/11 to finally have their day in court after 15 years and to seek the justice that has evaded them since that fateful day. Now Congress has an opportunity to address the lingering injustices that Holocaust survivors have faced for over 70 years by restoring their rights and finally giving them, their heirs and the heirs of victims an opportunity to bring their cases before a federal judge. For far too long, insurance companies have been allowed to deny just compensation to victims of the Holocaust by placing undue burdens on them and by hiding behind bureaucratic red tape which has prevented cases from being brought against these insurance companies in the U.S.

“We can no longer allow survivors and their families to continue to be victimized by those who benefitted from the atrocities of the Holocaust and we must no longer allow U.S. citizens to continue to be denied their right of access to our legal system. That is why I am pleased to be joined by Brad, John, Bill and Marco in introducing this bill and why I will continue to fight to ensure that these insurance companies are held accountable for the seven decades of continued exploitation of victims of the Holocaust.”

Note: H.R. 6279 validates state laws enacted to require insurance companies to disclose the names of Holocaust-era policyholders. It would also allow 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.

Background: Following World War II, Holocaust survivors and the heirs of victims filed claims on policies with their insurance companies. In many cases, the insurance companies rejected these claims due to the absence of death certificates and policy documents, which were often confiscated by Nazi authorities, leaving the insurance companies themselves with the only proof of the existence of insurance policies.