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Utah Senator Calls For Information On Payments To Exiled Nazis

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A senior Utah senator is demanding the Obama administration provide Congress with records detailing the payment of Social Security benefits to suspected Nazi war criminals.

In letters released publicly on Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah cited an Associated Press investigation published in October that revealed millions of dollars in benefits have been paid to dozens of former Nazis living outside of the United States.

The AP investigation found that the Justice Department persuaded Nazi suspects to leave the US in exchange for Social Security benefits. If they agreed to go voluntarily, or simply fled the country before being deported, they could keep their benefits. The Justice Department denied using Social Security payments as a way of enticing former Nazis to leave the country.

A bill unanimously approved Tuesday by the United States House of Representatives shut the loophole that allowed suspected Nazis to be paid benefits. Under the bill, Social Security payments would be terminated for Nazi suspects who have lost their American citizenship, a process called denaturalization. U.S. law currently mandates that an ordered deportation — a higher threshold than denaturalization — occurs before Social Security benefits can be terminated.

Grassley and Hatch back the House bill stripping Nazis of benefits, but they want to know more about the exact role the Justice Department played in what Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) called a "gross misuse of taxpayer dollars."

Following the AP’s investigation the Social Security Administration and the White House said they would support denying benefits to Nazis. The Justice Department said it would consider terminating the payments.

A vote on the Senate’s counterpart to the House bill is expected in the coming weeks.