Heard on the Hill

Cruz, Schumer Push to Recover Art From Nazis

Join Cornyn and Blumenthal in effort, which comes ahead of New York primary

Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz was one of four senators announcing the introduction of a bill to make it easier to make claims to recover artwork seized by the Nazis during the Holocaust.  

"The phrase 'never forget' is more than a slogan," the Texas senator said in a statement. "'Never forget' means working to right all the terrible injustices of the Holocaust, even if many decades have passed."  

The introduction of the bill, which would establish a new six-year statute of limitations for claims regarding artwork stolen by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945, came barely an hour before Cruz was scheduled to tour a Matzah bakery in Brooklyn.  

The GOP candidate who once spoke of "New York values" in the pejorative, is now courting votes in the Big Apple ahead of the April 19 New York primary.  

Cruz's senior colleague from Texas, Majority Whip John Cornyn formally introduced the bill, joined in the bipartisan effort by Brooklyn's own Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.  

"Seventy-one years after the end of the Holocaust and Hitler’s terrifying regime, victims are still identifying possessions that have been missing all these years," Schumer said in a statement. "When a family discovers a piece of art that was stolen by the Nazis they deserve their day in court."  

Cruz has largely been away from the Capitol while on the campaign trail, but his office was heavily engaged in drafting the measure over the last year, according to a Cruz aide directly involved in the discussions.  

In addition to the immediate issue of the difficulty of recovering artwork that was seized by Nazi authorities, Cruz's office said there are echoes of efforts by the Islamic State to pillage antiquities and sell them for profit.  

The aide said the measure was close to introduction several weeks ago, but the Senate offices involved wanted to get additional stakeholders. Their aim is for the bill to move quickly through the Judiciary Committee.  

Contact Lesniewski at nielslesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter at @nielslesniewski. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.