[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 66 (Tuesday, April 24, 2018)]
[Pages H3460-H3464]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass 
the bill (S. 447) to require reporting on acts of certain foreign 
countries on Holocaust era assets and related issues.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                                 S. 447

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Justice for Uncompensated 
     Survivors Today (JUST) Act of 2017''.


       (a) Definitions.--In this section:
       (1) Appropriate congressional committees.--The term 
     ``appropriate congressional committees'' means--
       (A) the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate;
       (B) the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate;
       (C) the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of 
     Representatives; and
       (D) the Committee on Appropriations of the House of 
       (2) Covered countries.--The term ``covered countries'' 
     means participants in the 2009 Holocaust Era Assets 
     Conference that are determined by the Secretary of State, or 
     the Secretary's designee, in consultation with expert 
     nongovernmental organizations, to be countries of particular 
     concern relative to the issues listed in subsection (b).
       (3) Wrongfully seized or transferred.--The term 
     ``wrongfully seized or transferred'' includes confiscations, 
     expropriations, nationalizations, forced sales or transfers, 
     and sales or transfers under duress during the Holocaust era 
     or the period of Communist rule of a covered country.
       (b) Report.--Not later than 18 months after the date of the 
     enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit a 
     report to the appropriate congressional committees that 
     assesses and describes the nature and extent of national laws 
     and enforceable policies of covered countries regarding the 
     identification and the return of or restitution for 
     wrongfully seized or transferred Holocaust era assets 
     consistent with, and evaluated with respect to, the goals and 
     objectives of the 2009 Holocaust Era Assets Conference, 
       (1) the return to the rightful owner of any property, 
     including religious or communal property, that was wrongfully 
     seized or transferred;
       (2) if return of any property described in paragraph (1) is 
     no longer possible, the provision of comparable substitute 
     property or the payment of equitable compensation to the 
     rightful owner in accordance with principles of justice and 
     through an expeditious claims-driven administrative process 
     that is just, transparent, and fair;
       (3) in the case of heirless property, the provision of 
     property or compensation to assist needy Holocaust survivors, 
     to support Holocaust education, and for other purposes;
       (4) the extent to which such laws and policies are 
     implemented and enforced in practice, including through any 
     applicable administrative or judicial processes; and
       (5) to the extent practicable, the mechanism for and an 
     overview of progress toward the resolution of claims for 
     United States citizen Holocaust survivors and United States 
     citizen family members of Holocaust victims.
       (c) Sense of Congress.--It is the sense of Congress that 
     after the submission of the report described in subsection 
     (b), the Secretary of State should continue to report to 
     Congress on Holocaust era assets and related issues in a 
     manner that is consistent with the manner in which the 
     Department of State reported on such matters before the date 
     of the enactment of the Act.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Poe) and the gentleman from New York (Mr. Engel) each will 
control 20 minutes.
  Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I claim the time in opposition to this 
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Does the gentleman from New York favor the 
  Mr. ENGEL. Mr. Speaker, I do.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. On that basis, pursuant to the rule, the 
gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) will control the 20 minutes 
in opposition.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas.

                             General Leave

  Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all 
Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend 
their remarks and include extraneous material.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Texas?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 10 minutes to the gentleman 
from New York (Mr. Engel), and I ask unanimous consent that he be 
allowed to control that time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Texas?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
  Mr. Speaker, as the Nazis ravaged Europe, confiscation of property 
was just one of the many injustices Holocaust victims endured.
  In the almost 75 years since World War II ended, helping to repair 
the wrongs inflicted by the Nazis by restoring the property of millions 
of people who had their lives torn apart has proven a difficult and 
challenging problem.
  The 2009 Holocaust Era Assets Conference addressed the ongoing 
injustices created by the Holocaust, including guidance related to 
restitution of

[[Page H3461]]

property wrongfully seized. However, among the 46 signers to this 
declaration, including the United States, there are vast disparities in 
the degree to which the laws and policies of each country fulfill these 
principles to compensate survivors.
  This act will help hold governments accountable that have fallen 
short of their commitment to these important principles.
  This bill requires the State Department to assess the laws and 
policies regarding the return or restitution for wrongfully seized 
Holocaust era assets by countries that participated in the 2009 
Holocaust Era Assets Conference.
  This bill states that it is the sense of Congress that the Secretary 
should continue to report to Congress on Holocaust era assets.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today to do something that I never would have 
thought that I would do in my time in Congress. I am here to stand in 
opposition to a bill that purports to seek justice for Holocaust 
  Anyone who knows just the slightest bit about my tenure in Congress 
knows how hard I have worked over the years in support of Holocaust 
survivors. I have held hearings on the plight of survivors. I have 
introduced bills to seek justice for survivors. I have pressed Germany 
to honor its obligation and its commitment to survivors to ensure that 
Germany takes care of the health and home care needs of all survivors 
so that they may live out their remaining days in the dignity and 
comfort that they deserve.
  I have fought against those who denied the Holocaust, and I have 
spent countless hours speaking with and visiting with the many 
survivors that I have now come to know as dear friends; listening to 
their stories; hearing them recall the atrocities that they somehow 
managed to live through; and then hearing how, even today, more than 70 
years later, they still face the injustices of humanity's darkest 
  In fact, it was Speaker Ryan who named me as one of the congressional 
members on the Holocaust Museum Board just last year, and I am truly 
honored and humbled to have been named to this position.
  So I think my history of support for Holocaust survivors and their 
families is well established and well known, which is why I cannot, in 
good conscience, stand here before you, Mr. Speaker, before my 
colleagues, before the American people, and before the Holocaust 
survivors who are listening to offer my support for this bill.
  And with all due respect for my colleagues, and they are good 
friends, because I know that their hearts are in the right place, this 
bill is not what it purports to be. That is the problem.
  Let's start with the name, Mr. Speaker. Justice for Uncompensated 
Survivors Today Act.
  Where is the justice, Mr. Speaker?
  This bill is nothing more than a mere reporting requirement. It has 
got a fancy name. It is going to give us the feel-good that you are 
doing something for survivors, but it is just a reporting requirement.
  What do survivors gain from that?
  There is no actionable item in this bill. There is nothing to compel 
any government to do anything in this bill. There is simply no real 
action here.
  This is a Claims Conference justice, and by that I mean the Claims 
Conference wants to appear to be doing all that it can for survivors, 
but it is nothing more than that. It is a smoke screen.
  We should not be fooled, Mr. Speaker. This bill has the full support 
of the Claims Conference precisely because it does the bare minimum. It 
keeps the tension away from the sad truth.
  What is the truth?
  That the Claims Conference has utterly failed our Holocaust 
survivors. There is no denying that the Claims Conference has a 
particularly checkered history: its flawed process, its failure to 
support fully the Holocaust survivors' needs, its opposition to 
allowing survivors real justice, and, of course, the embezzlement and 
fraud issues.

                              {time}  1545

  There is no denying that this bill moves the needle not 1 inch closer 
to justice. It has a fancy name, but there is no justice.
  Just look at the timeframe here, Mr. Speaker. The report is due in 18 
months, and then what? And how many of the survivors will pass away 
before this report even gets issued?
  So I am sorry to say, but the JUST Act just falls so far short of 
what survivors need today that I cannot stand before my friends and 
colleagues and I cannot stand before my Holocaust survivors and offer a 
voice of support for this bill.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. ENGEL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I rise in support of this bill,
  Mr. Speaker, first, let me thank Senator Baldwin and Senator Rubio 
for their tireless efforts on behalf of Holocaust survivors and their 
heirs. I would also like to acknowledge the important work of my New 
York colleague, Congressman Joe Crowley, and Chris Smith, who 
introduced the House version of this legislation.
  The Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today, or JUST, Act would 
shine a light on any country in Europe stalling on the return of or 
restitution for wrongfully confiscated or transferred Holocaust era 
  Nearly 75 years after the end of World War II, we are still debating 
property rights for Holocaust victims. That is truly astonishing. 
According to the Holocaust Immovable Property Restitution Study, a 
substantial amount of property confiscated from European Jews hasn't 
been returned to its rightful owners or its owners haven't been 
compensated at all.
  We must ensure that the United States is holding governments to their 
obligations and ensuring their property is properly returned. Holocaust 
survivors have waited too long for justice. We cannot let them wait any 
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and I reserve 
the balance of my time.
  Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
  Mr. Speaker, I previously discussed how passing just a reporting 
requirement is not justice for survivors, never mind the title. It may 
be vigilance, but there will be no justice served for a single survivor 
when this body passes this bill and sends it to the President for his 
signature. Mr. Speaker, there is something even worse than not 
providing justice for survivors, and that is depriving them of justice.
  I want to talk about one of the principles in this bill that, while 
on the face of it, might read like it is a simple principle--perhaps it 
sounds like good, common sense--and this is what it does:
  This bill directs the Secretary of State to submit a report to 
Congress that assesses and describes the nature and extent that certain 
countries have gone to in order to meet the goals and objectives of the 
2009 Holocaust Era Assets Conference.
  Again, it sounds reasonable. It is always good to hold countries 
accountable, especially when we are talking about seeking justice for 
Holocaust survivors. But one of the big flaws of the 2009 Conference, 
and what this bill does by asking the Secretary to report on how 
governments are complying with these goals, is that it enshrines a 
principle of running out the clock on survivors. The principle, which 
is specifically highlighted in this bill, the JUST Act, is the notion 
of allowing governments to use the assets of heirless property claims 
to provide for other survivors' needs.
  Essentially, what this is saying to the governments that have claims 
against them or that have obligations to survivors whom they must meet 
is: Go ahead. Stall as long as you can. Wait them out. Then use those 
assets to pay off your obligations.
  How long have survivors had to wait now, Mr. Speaker? Over 70 years. 
And the longer they wait, the longer those states which have 
obligations to survivors are allowed to stall, the less that these 
states will be on the hook for.
  Even worse, this rewards states for stalling. It compounds the 
injustice to survivors. Using property and assets that were denied to 
survivors for over seven decades to then pay off other survivors is 
  Every survivor deserves justice, and that includes all who have lived

[[Page H3462]]

through the unthinkable but are no longer with us today. This practice 
is nothing more than a smokescreen for Germany's and other Claims 
Conference failures to forthrightly provide for all survivors' needs.
  Let's think about it this way, Mr. Speaker: The Claims Conference 
will support the idea of using heirless claims to provide for other 
survivors, sure, but will the Claims Conference support the idea that 
survivors still being denied their justice by the insurance companies 
should be allowed to sue those insurance companies in Federal court? 
  Mr. Speaker, I wonder why that is. If my colleagues want to support 
this bill and if they think that using heirless property to pay for the 
needs of other survivors is the best we can get, then fine. But I 
challenge each and every one of you to believe that we can do more, we 
must do more, and that we have a moral responsibility to do more for 
  Surely, if we can tell governments in Europe that it is okay to 
benefit from their unwillingness to resolve the outstanding property 
claims against them for 70 years, then we can tell our survivors that 
it is okay for them to go to Federal court and fight for their justice.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield the balance of my time to the 
gentleman from California (Mr. Royce), the chairman of the Foreign 
Affairs Committee, and I ask unanimous consent that he control that 
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Poliquin). Is there objection to the 
request of the gentleman from Texas?
  There was no objection
  Mr. ROYCE of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, let me thank the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-
Lehtinen), the chairman emeritus of our committee, for her tireless 
work advocating on behalf of Holocaust survivors. Let me say at the 
outset here that no one in Congress, no one in this Congress, has done 
more to advocate on behalf of survivors than Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and I 
believe that to be true through her entire tenure in this body.
  Let me also explain the thoughts, as explained to us, behind our 
Senate colleagues that put together the JUST Act.
  From their standpoint, from their vantage point, the JUST Act is a 
simple reporting requirement to assess the progress of signatories to 
the 2009 Terezin Declaration on Holocaust era assets and related 
issues. The goal there, of course, was to fulfill the principles in 
that declaration. A lot of time and effort went into trying to leverage 
that agreement out of 46 countries that agreed to these principles.
  Now, here is the point; here is where we have a difference of 
opinion: of those 46 countries, some of them are falling woefully short 
of their commitments.
  Here are the conflict divisions. Some are saying, many are saying: 
Look, we need to put pressure on them.
  The Senate unanimously came to the conclusion that a way to do that 
is with this bill, because what the legislation does is to ensure that 
there is an accountability mechanism of checking adherence to the 
declaration principles and to making sure that it doesn't fall by the 
wayside by bringing accountability to those countries that don't.
  The injustices of the Holocaust, frankly, here today, those 
injustices are too many to name. Many are unaddressed in that 
declaration, and I concur from that standpoint. But, at the same time, 
we need to continue pushing to right the full spectrum of these wrongs.
  Before us we have a bill which will bring much leverage. We cannot 
lose the headway that we have made toward compensating survivors and 
families for what was rightfully theirs.
  Our partners have already agreed to the restitution principles in the 
declaration. A formal report that shows who has fallen short and how, 
it is argued by our colleagues in the Senate, would be a powerful 
instrument for the U.S. Government to push for changes.
  From my standpoint, I understand the arguments being made by the 
Senate. It does not mean that we should not go forward to make other 
points. But the argument they make to us is let's give the State 
Department the tools it needs to ensure accountability. This is an 
argument that, on both sides of the aisle, the preponderance of Members 
here, I think, concur with.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
  Mr. Speaker, earlier I spoke about survivors being unable to sue the 
insurance companies in Federal court, how unjust that is. What a 
  First, they were forced to suffer the inhumanity of the Nazis during 
the Holocaust, treated as outsiders. Worse than that, there really are 
just no words to adequately describe how Jews were treated during the 
Nazi time. And now, for so many, they continue to face injustices on a 
daily basis.
  One would think, Mr. Speaker, that those who endured and managed to 
make it here to America--home of freedom, democracy, respect for human 
rights, where everyone is meant to have equal rights--would not have to 
face the harsh truth that they are still being treated no better than 
second-class citizens.
  Imagine how survivors feel when they are told that, in America, 
almost anyone can have their rightful day in court--unless you are a 
Holocaust survivor with a claim against one of the big, rich, powerful 
insurance companies. In that case, you have no right to your justice. 
You have no day in court. You are prohibited from bringing justice to 
the courts.
  Countless survivors had valid insurance policies with insurance 
companies in Europe before the Holocaust, but when so many tried to 
make a claim on the policies of their loved ones, can you imagine what 
these companies told them?
  The insurance companies have asked Holocaust survivors to show their 
policies, because, as we all know, Mr. Speaker, the Nazis just let the 
Jews of Europe take all of their important documentation and their most 
cherished possessions with them before they were hauled off for 
extermination--of course that did not happen.
  Even worse, these big, rich, powerful insurance companies didn't just 
reject these claims due to the absence of policy documents. Many claims 
were rejected due to the absence of a death certificate--another paper 
that the insurance companies knew were not readily available. They did 
not pass them out in extermination camps. The relatives did not get a 
death certificate. But yet that is what insurance companies are asking 
of survivors.
  Of course, we all know that policyholders aren't the only ones with 
the proper documentation. Allianz or any of those big, rich, powerful 
insurance companies aren't just going to take my word for it that I 
have a policy with them. Insurance companies are going to have their 
own documentation to validate the claim. They have that documentation.
  But do insurance companies do this for survivors? Do they show them 
the claims? Of course not. And, unfortunately, there is nothing to 
compel these huge, rich, and powerful insurance companies to provide it 
and to pay off those claims.
  These claims, by the way, Mr. Speaker, now run into the billions of 
dollars, so you can imagine why the insurance companies would fight so 
hard against allowing survivors to receive their claims.
  This is not justice. This is just as immoral and as reprehensible as 
you can get. These rich and powerful insurance companies should be held 
liable, and they should be held accountable for these sins against 
morality and humanity.
  That is the bill that we should be debating today, and that is why, 
for years, I have authored the Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act, 
H.R. 762, in this Congress and I have worked side by side with so many 
survivors over the years who feel as if they are continuing to be 
  They ask me: Why can everyone else get their day in court like we are 
all entitled to, but not Holocaust survivors?
  My bill is simple, Mr. Speaker. It will finally allow survivors the 
ability to bring their cases before the U.S. court system, and it 
allows them to have their day in court.

[[Page H3463]]


                              {time}  1600

  It does not prejudge the outcome of any case. It simply says 
survivors can face the insurance companies in court and seek redress. 
It will make the insurance companies open up their books and let the 
world know the truth.
  If it is decided by the U.S. court system that these insurance 
companies have in fact been shirking their moral and legal 
responsibilities, then the appropriate course of action should be 
taken. But this cannot happen and these survivors cannot have their day 
in court unless we take steps to ensure that it can.
  If we are here today to talk about justice for survivors, as this 
bill is called, let's talk about real action. Let's talk about doing 
something more than a simple reporting requirement with a fancy name. 
Let's talk about ending seven decades of injustice. Let's talk about 
ending impunity for these big, powerful, rich insurance companies. 
Let's talk about accountability.
  Let's take up the JUST Act with the Holocaust Insurance 
Accountability Act. Let's not allow ourselves to pass a reporting 
requirement and then pat ourselves on the back thinking the job is 
over. Let's get real justice for survivors.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. ENGEL. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from New 
York (Mr. Crowley), the chair of the Democratic Caucus. He is also the 
sponsor of the House version of this bill.
  Mr. CROWLEY. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend and colleague from the 
Bronx, New York (Mr. Engel). He has been a true friend for many, many, 
many years. I thank him for yielding me this time.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in full support today of S. 447, the Justice for 
Uncompensated Survivors Today Act. This important measure has already 
unanimously passed the Senate. Senator Tammy Baldwin had worked hard on 
this issue, on a bipartisan basis, and I am proud to have introduced 
the House version, as has been mentioned, along with my colleague from 
New Jersey (Mr. Smith). I appreciate the efforts of the chairman and 
the ranking member here in bringing the bill to the floor.
  I was first approached about the lack of justice still facing 
Holocaust survivors by a gentleman from Queens, New York, Jehuda Evron. 
I am sorry that he cannot be here today to watch this debate, as he has 
spent a lifetime helping those who endured and escaped horrific 
atrocities during the Holocaust.
  Jehuda has been an incredible campaigner for Holocaust survivors, 
along with his wife, Leah, who lived in the ghetto under a false 
identity and joined others in hiding with resistance fighters.
  It was Jehuda and the World Jewish Restitution Organization who 
shared with me an ongoing indignity Holocaust survivors still face to 
this very day: the inability to reclaim property unlawfully seized 
during the Holocaust. This is property that, if restored, could have a 
significant impact for the far too many Holocaust survivors living in 
poverty today.
  It may shock some to hear that, here in the United States, one-third 
of the Holocaust survivors live at or under the poverty line. That is 
despicable. Some survivors are so poor, they sometimes have to choose 
between food and medicine.
  Their stories put in stark relief the lifelong impact the Holocaust 
had on an entire generation of families and survivors. That is why it 
is so important that in 2009, the United States, Israel, and 45 other 
countries signed the Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and 
Related Issues.
  In that important measure, countries pledged to take steps to return 
assets looted by the Nazi government and others. Nine years later, 
there is still work to be done.
  The JUST Act urges countries to keep their commitments to restitute 
wrongly taken Holocaust Era Assets, and it will continue to shine a 
light on the ongoing struggle of survivors to reclaim the property that 
is rightfully theirs.
  If you walk out the front door of this building and head down the 
street, you will find yourself at the United States Holocaust Memorial 
Museum. It is a powerful institution and one that reminds us of not 
only the heroic role played by the United States in World War II, but 
the tremendous suffering faced by the Jewish people and all victims of 
the Holocaust.
  For me, it is also a reminder that if we can take steps to right more 
of the wrongs committed during the Holocaust, we should take the 
opportunity to do so. I believe that this bill is an opportunity to do 
  Mr. Speaker, I have the utmost respect for the gentlewoman from 
Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen). She knows my affection for her. We have 
been friends for over 20 years. I respect her opposition to this 
because I know that she does want justice for the victims. That is her 
  But I just want to say, for the record, that this bill is supported 
by the World Jewish Restitution Organization, the American Jewish 
Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Federations of North 
America, B'nai B'rith International, HIAS Refugee Assistance 
Organization, the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, 
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and the Orthodox Union.
  I think, Mr. Speaker, it is important to recognize those 
organizations that are in full support of this legislation, with all 
due respect to a woman I have tremendous respect for.
  Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
  Mr. Speaker, in order to close my part of this debate on the bill, I 
want to reiterate that, though I strongly oppose the JUST Act--it is 
smoke and mirrors and it gives you the feel-good moment and provides no 
justice for survivors, in spite of its fancy name--I do believe that my 
colleagues do have good intentions and they want to see Holocaust 
survivors finally get the justice that has for so long evaded them.
  Their words and their remarks are heartfelt. They just don't apply to 
this bill. They would more rightly apply to the bill that I have and 
that I hope this body will soon take up. In fact, this body took action 
last Congress when the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act of 2016, 
or the HEAR Act, was passed and signed into law.

  This was an important bill. It actually helped. That bill allowed for 
civil claims or causes of action for the recovery of artwork stolen 
from Jews by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
  In other words, we have acted to ensure that Holocaust victims can 
bring claims in U.S. courts to recover their looted artwork and other 
possessions. They can have their day in court, and I am glad for it. If 
you lost a famous painting and there have been movies and books written 
about it, you can have your day in court. That is wonderful.
  But since HEAR was passed, or the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery 
Act, it has already been cited in several cases and has been applied by 
the Ninth Circuit Court to revive a previously dismissed Nazi-era art 
case. That is great. So why not take action to allow the same process 
to take place for survivors to hold insurance companies accountable?
  If you had your artwork looted by the Nazis, you can have your day in 
court. But if the Nazis have destroyed your life, and you had an 
insurance company policy, you do not have the right to take that case 
to court. It doesn't make sense.
  So, Mr. Speaker, we are here today to debate justice for 
uncompensated survivors of the Holocaust. A simple reporting 
requirement isn't going to do that. We shouldn't have to be taking such 
action. Unfortunately, because certain governments haven't lived up to 
their obligations and because these insurance companies and others 
complicit in Nazi-era crimes still manage to evade accountability, we 
have a moral obligation to step into action. That is the message that I 
am giving to my colleagues.
  If we want to pass the JUST Act, so be it. But let's also vow here 
and now to take more concrete action to really get justice for 
Holocaust survivors. Let's take that next big step. Time is running 
out. Time is running out for all of these survivors and we need action 
yesterday--not today, but today will do.
  I am asking my colleagues to do the right thing, and I am asking for 
this body, Mr. Speaker, to bring the Holocaust Insurance Accountability 
Act to the floor as soon as possible so that we

[[Page H3464]]

can take a meaningful step, a concrete step, an action item toward 
justice for survivors. And then, all of those lofty words that are laid 
upon the table on this bill that don't really apply, would really apply 
to this bill, the Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act. We owe it to 
the survivors. We owe it to their families.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. ROYCE of California. Mr. Speaker, I continue to reserve the 
balance of my time.
  Mr. ENGEL. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2\1/2\ minutes to the gentleman from 
Florida (Mr. Deutch), who is a very well-respected member of our 
Foreign Affairs Committee.
  Mr. DEUTCH. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend, Ranking Member Engel, for 
his hard work on this bill and for yielding. I thank Chairman Royce as 
  I want to thank the many Members of Congress who have shown their 
unyielding commitment to caring for Holocaust survivors and ensuring 
that their needs are met, including the cosponsors of this bill, and, 
of course, the House bill's sponsors, Congressman Crowley and 
Congressman Smith.
  I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my friend and 
colleague, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for her tireless efforts throughout her 
career on behalf of Holocaust survivors in our community in south 
Florida and everywhere they live.
  Two weeks after we marked Yom HaShoah, it is fitting that Congress 
would consider this bill. I hope that the world is watching, because 
every year that we move away from the horrible atrocities of the 
Holocaust, we lose more and more survivors.
  They are the people who survived Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor, and 
other Nazi death camps. They are the people who survived the attempted 
genocide against them. Six million Jews perished. We must remember that 
every single victim, those who perished and those who survived, had a 
story. They had homes, they had businesses, family heirlooms, and 
personal possessions. As the Nazis stormed through Europe to wipe out 
European Jewry, they stole everything they could as they sent Jews to 
their death.
  While no amount of money will ever erase these horrors, these 
survivors, their families, and their heirs deserve compensation for 
confiscated property, including Jewish communal, private, and heirless 
  In 2009, the United States joined 46 other countries and agreed to 
the Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets. This was a commitment 
by these countries to provide for the restitution of confiscated 
property. But 9 years later, many European countries have still failed 
to meet their commitments in this agreement. Some countries still 
haven't passed legislation to create for private property restitution, 
and we should call out their failures.
  As we speak, thousands of survivors are in need of immediate and 
urgent care and assistance. I am proud to represent a large community 
of survivors, and I see their critical needs going unmet day after day. 
This bill can be a tool to help us understand where the gaps lie in 
restitution programs, but it does not address, nor is it meant to 
address, the urgent need of survivors now. As they age, their needs 
grow. It is essential they receive the care they deserve. We must do 
everything to ensure that those needs are addressed.
  I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
  Mr. ROYCE of California. Mr. Speaker, I continue to reserve the 
balance of my time.
  Mr. ENGEL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  This legislation is critical to ensuring that Holocaust survivors and 
their heirs are compensated. Restitution and return will represent 
another step moving past this heinous chapter of human history.
  I want to thank my colleague and good friend, Chairman Ros-Lehtinen, 
for her powerful remarks this afternoon and for her leadership for so 
many years in fighting for Holocaust survivors. I have met many of her 
constituents and many of my own who remain engaged in this prolonged 
battle for justice. I am a cosponsor of Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen's 
legislation, and I proudly support her in these efforts. I do hope that 
her bill will come to the floor as well.

                              {time}  1615

  I also support Congressmen Crowley and Smith, as well as Senators 
Baldwin and Rubio, in the effort to ensure that property is restituted 
and returned through the JUST Act. This legislation has already passed 
the Senate; so when we pass it here, it will go right to the 
President's desk for signing. With this vote, we can push it across the 
finish line.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and I yield 
back the balance of my time.
  Mr. ROYCE of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, we have been contacted on behalf of the JUST Act by a 
number of organizations in support of the Senate bill. The major 
American Jewish organizations supporting this measure are the American 
Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federations of 
North America, the B'nai B'rith, the HIAS refugee assistance 
organization, Union for Reform Judaism, Orthodox Union, World Jewish 
Restitution Organization, and others; and they have argued that the 
Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today Act, or JUST Act, as the 
Senate calls it, is a measure that will have an outsized impact in 
encouraging countries to continue working to make amends for the evils 
of the Holocaust. That is what drove the Senate to pass this bill.
  Now, just to go into the details again a little bit: it was in 2009 
that representatives of this country and 40 other countries agreed to a 
set of principles to address the welfare of survivors, to address 
Holocaust education, and to address issues related to restitution for 
seized property, among other issues.
  Now, that is what these 40 nations committed to. So 10 years have 
passed, approximately, and it is time that we take stock of the work 
under way because, while a number of these partner countries have made 
great strides to uphold their commitments under the agreement, you and 
I know--everybody here knows--that some countries have fallen short.
  And this legislation, which charges the State Department with the 
responsibility for this important report--and let's call it naming and 
shaming; that is basically what is intended here--gives the United 
States another tool to seek justice for Holocaust survivors, to seek 
justice for the families of Holocaust victims. And it is our hope that 
passing this bill will motivate improvements even before the report is 
penned. Already we have seen some of these countries overseas renew 
their engagement on this issue, and that is the leverage that we want 
to deploy.
  It is a devastating issue to even begin a discussion because we can 
never compensate Holocaust survivors truly for the unbelievable horror 
and devastation that they suffered. But from the perspective of most of 
the organizations that have talked to us about the bill, their point 
would be: We can try. We can try to restore what is rightfully theirs. 
And part of the trying, from their standpoint, is to shed light on the 
efforts, or lack thereof, that other countries are making. And this 
bill does that. It unanimously passed the Senate for that reason.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank all the Members here who participated today in 
the debate over this very difficult issue, and I yield back the balance 
of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Poe) that the House suspend the rules and 
pass the bill, S. 447.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.