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Public Law 105-186
To establish a commission to examine issues pertaining to the disposition of Holocaust-era
assets in the United States before, during, and after World War II, and to make
recommendations to the President on further action, and for other purposes. <<NOTE:
June 23, 1998 - [S. 1900]>>
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America
in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: U.S. Holocaust Assets Commission Act of 1998.>>
SECTION 1. <<NOTE: 22 USC 1621 note.>> SHORT TITLE. (Top of Page)
This Act may be cited as the ``U.S. Holocaust Assets Commission Act
SEC. 2. <<NOTE: 22 USC 1621 note.>> ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION. (Top of Page)
(a) Establishment.--There is established a Presidential Commission, to be known as the
``Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States'' (hereafter
in this Act referred to as the ``Commission'').
(b) <<NOTE: President. Congress.>> Membership.--
(1) Number.--The Commission shall be composed of 21 members, appointed in accordance with
(2) Appointments.--Of the 21 members of the Commission--
(A) eight shall be private citizens, appointed by the President;
(B) four shall be representatives of the Department of State, the Department of Justice,
the Department of the Army, and the Department of the Treasury (one
representative of each such Department), appointed by the President;
(C) two shall be Members of the House of Representatives, appointed by the Speaker of the
House of Representatives;
(D) two shall be Members of the House of Representatives, appointed by the minority leader
of the House of Representatives;
(E) two shall be Members of the Senate, appointed by the majority leader of the Senate;
(F) two shall be Members of the Senate, appointed by the minority leader of the Senate;
(G) one shall be the Chairperson of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.
(3) Criteria for membership.--Each private citizen appointed to the Commission shall be an
individual who has a record of demonstrated leadership on issues relating to the Holocaust
or in the fields of commerce, culture, or education
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that would assist the Commission in analyzing the disposition of the assets of Holocaust
(4) Advisory panels.--The Chairperson of the Commission may, in the discretion of the
Chairperson, establish advisory panels to the Commission, including State or local
officials, representatives of organizations having an interest in the work of the
Commission, or others having expertise that is relevant to the purposes of the Commission.
(5) <<NOTE: Deadline.>> Date.--The appointments of the members of the
Commission shall be made not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act.
(c) <<NOTE: President.>> Chairperson.--The Chairperson of the Commission shall
be selected by the President from among the members of the Commission appointed under
subparagraph (A) or (B) of subsection
(d) Period of Appointment.--Members of the Commission shall be appointed for the life of
(e) Vacancies.--Any vacancy in the membership of the Commission shall not affect its
powers, but shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment.
(f) Meetings.--The Commission shall meet at the call of the Chairperson at any time after
the date of appointment of the Chairperson.
(g) Quorum.--11 members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum, but a lesser number
of members may hold meetings.
SEC. 3. <<NOTE: 22 USC 1621 note.>> DUTIES OF THE COMMISSION. (Top of Page)
(a) Original Research.--
(1) In general.--Except as otherwise provided in paragraph
(3), the Commission shall conduct a thorough study and develop a historical record of the
collection and disposition of the assets described in paragraph (2), if such assets came
into the possession or control of the Federal Government, including the Board of Governors
of the Federal Reserve System and any Federal reserve bank, at any time after January 30,
(A) after having been obtained from victims of the Holocaust by, on behalf of, or under
authority of a government referred to in subsection (c);
(B) because such assets were left unclaimed as the result of actions taken by, on behalf
of, or under authority of a government referred to in subsection (c);
(C) in the case of assets consisting of gold bullion, monetary gold, or similar assets,
after such assets had been obtained by the Nazi government of
Germany from governmental institutions in any area occupied by the military forces of the
Nazi government of Germany.
(2) Types of assets.--Assets described in this paragraph include--
(A) gold, including gold bullion, monetary gold, or similar assets in the possession of or
under the control of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System or any Federal
(B) gems, jewelry, and non-gold precious metals;
(C) accounts in banks in the United States;
(D) domestic financial instruments purchased before May 8, 1945, by individual victims of
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whether recorded in the name of the victim or in the name of a nominee;
(E) insurance policies and proceeds thereof;
(F) real estate situated in the United States;
(G) works of art; and
(H) books, manuscripts, and religious objects.
(3) Coordination of activities.--In carrying out its duties under paragraph (1), the
Commission shall, to the maximum extent practicable, coordinate its activities with, and
not duplicate similar activities already being undertaken by, private individuals, private
entities, or government entities, whether domestic or foreign.
(4) Insurance policies.--
(A) <<NOTE: Reports.>> In general.--In carrying out its duties under this Act,
the Commission shall take note of the work of the National Association of Insurance
Commissioners with regard to Holocaust-era insurance issues and shall encourage the
National Association of Insurance Commissioners to prepare a report on the
Holocaust-related claims practices of all insurance companies, both domestic and foreign,
doing business in the United States at any time after January 30, 1933, that issued any
individual life, health, or property-casualty insurance policy to any individual on any
list of Holocaust victims, including the following lists:
(i) The list maintained by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington,
D.C., of Jewish Holocaust survivors.
(ii) The list maintained by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Authority in its Hall of
Names of individuals who died in the Holocaust.
(B) Information to be included.--The report on insurance companies prepared pursuant to
(A) should include the following, to the degree the information is available:
(i) The number of policies issued by each company to individuals described in such
(ii) The value of each policy at the time of issue.
(iii) The total number of policies, and the dollar amount, that have been paid out.
(iv) The total present-day value of assets in the United States of each company.
(C) Coordination.--The Commission shall coordinate its work on insurance issues with that
of the international Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era
Assets, to be convened by the Department of State and the United States Holocaust Memorial
(b) Comprehensive Review of Other Research.--Upon receiving permission from any relevant
individuals or entities, the Commission shall review comprehensively any research by
private individuals, private entities, and non-Federal government entities, whether
domestic or foreign, into the collection and disposition of the assets described in
subsection (a)(2), to the extent that such research focuses on assets that came into the
possession or control of private individuals, private entities, or non-Federal government
entities within the United States at any time after January 30, 1933, either--
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(1) after having been obtained from victims of the Holocaust by, on behalf of, or under
authority of a government referred to in subsection (c); or
(2) because such assets were left unclaimed as the result of actions taken by, on behalf
of, or under authority of a government referred to in subsection (c).
(c) Governments Included.--A government referred to in this subsection includes, as in
existence during the period beginning on March 23, 1933, and ending on May 8, 1945--
(1) the Nazi government of Germany;
(2) any government in any area occupied by the military forces of the Nazi government of
(3) any government established with the assistance or cooperation of the Nazi government
of Germany; and
(4) any government which was an ally of the Nazi government of Germany.
(1) Submission to the president.--Not later than December 31, 1999, the Commission shall
submit a final report to the President that shall contain any recommendations for such
legislative, administrative, or other action as it deems necessary or appropriate. The
Commission may submit interim reports to the President as it deems appropriate.
(2) Submission to the congress.--After receipt of the final report under paragraph (1),
the President shall submit to the Congress any recommendations for legislative,
administrative, or other action that the President considers necessary or appropriate.
SEC. 4. <<NOTE: 22 USC 1621 note.>> POWERS OF THE COMMISSION. (Top of Page)
(a) Hearings.--The Commission may hold such hearings, sit and act at such times and
places, take such testimony, and receive such evidence as the Commission considers
advisable to carry out this Act.
(b) Information From Federal Agencies.--The Commission may secure directly from any
Federal department or agency such information as the Commission considers necessary to
carry out this Act. Upon request of the Chairperson of the Commission, the head of any
such department or agency shall furnish such information to the Commission as
expeditiously as possible.
(c) Postal Services.--The Commission may use the United States mails in the same manner
and under the same conditions as other departments and agencies of the Federal Government.
(d) Gifts.--The Commission may accept, use, and dispose of gifts or donations of services
(e) Administrative Services.--For the purposes of obtaining administrative services
necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act, including the leasing of real property
for use by the Commission as an office, the Commission shall have the power to--
(1) enter into contracts and modify, or consent to the modification of, any contract or
agreement to which the Commission is a party; and
(2) acquire, hold, lease, maintain, or dispose of real and personal property.
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SEC. 5. <<NOTE: 22 USC 1621 note.>> COMMISSION PERSONNEL MATTERS.
(a) Compensation.--No member of the Commission who is a private citizen shall be
compensated for service on the Commission. All members of the Commission who are officers
or employees of the United States shall serve without compensation in addition to that
received for their services as officers or employees of the United States.
(b) Travel Expenses.--The members of the Commission shall be allowed travel expenses,
including per diem in lieu of subsistence, at rates authorized for employees of agencies
under subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, while away from their
homes or regular places of business in the performance of services for the Commission.
(c) Executive Director, Deputy Executive Director, General Counsel, and Other Staff.--
(1) <<NOTE: Deadline.>> In general.--Not later than 90 days after the
selection of the Chairperson of the Commission under section 2, the Chairperson shall,
without regard to the civil service laws and regulations, appoint an executive director, a
deputy executive director, and a general counsel of the Commission, and such other
additional personnel as may be necessary to enable the Commission to perform its duties
under this Act.
(2) Qualifications.--The executive director, deputy executive director, and general
counsel of the Commission shall be appointed without regard to political affiliation, and
shall possess all necessary security clearances for such positions.
(3) Duties of executive director.--The executive director of
the Commission shall--
(A) serve as principal liaison between the Commission and other Government entities;
(B) be responsible for the administration and coordination of the review of records by the
(C) be responsible for coordinating all official activities of the Commission.
(4) Compensation.--The Chairperson of the Commission may fix the compensation of the
executive director, deputy executive director, general counsel, and other personnel
employed by the Commission, without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter
III of chapter 53 of title 5, United States Code, relating to classification of positions
and General Schedule pay
rates, except that--
(A) the rate of pay for the executive director of the Commission may not exceed the rate
payable for level III of the Executive Schedule under section 5314 of title 5, United
States Code; and
(B) the rate of pay for the deputy executive director, the general counsel of the
Commission, and other Commission personnel may not exceed the rate payable for level IV of
the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code.
(5) Employee benefits.--
(A) In general.--An employee of the Commission shall be an employee for purposes of
chapters 83, 84, 85, 87, and 89 of title 5, United States Code, and service as an employee
of the Commission shall be service for purposes
of such chapters.
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(B) Non-application to members.--This paragraph shall not apply to a member of the
(6) Office of personnel management.--The Office of Personnel Management--
(A) may promulgate regulations to apply the
provisions referred to under subsection (a) to employees of the Commission; and
(B) shall provide support services, on a reimbursable basis, relating to--
(i) the initial employment of employees of the Commission; and
(ii) other personnel needs of the Commission.
(d) Detail of Government Employees.--Any Federal Government employee may be detailed to
the Commission without reimbursement to the agency of that employee, and such detail shall
be without interruption or loss of civil service status or privilege.
(e) Procurement of Temporary and Intermittent Services.--The Chairperson of the Commission
may procure temporary and intermittent services under section 3109(b) of title 5, United
States Code, at rates for individuals which do not exceed the daily equivalent of the
annual rate of basic pay prescribed for level V of the Executive Schedule under section
5316 of such title.
(f) Staff Qualifications.--Any person appointed to the staff of or employed by the
Commission shall be an individual of integrity and impartiality.
(g) Conditional Employment.--
(1) In general.--The Commission may offer employment on a conditional basis to a
prospective employee pending the completion of any necessary security clearance background
investigation. During the pendency of any such investigation, the Commission shall ensure
that such conditional employee is
not given and does not have access to or responsibility involving classified or otherwise
(2) Termination.--If a person hired on a conditional basis as described in paragraph (1)
is denied or otherwise does not qualify for all security clearances necessary for the
fulfillment of the responsibilities of that person as an employee of the Commission, the
Commission shall immediately terminate the employment of that person with the Commission.
(h) Expedited Security Clearance Procedures.--A candidate for executive director or deputy
executive director of the Commission and any potential employee of the Commission shall,
to the maximum extent possible, be investigated or otherwise evaluated for and granted, if
applicable, any necessary security clearances on an expedited basis.
SEC. 6. <<NOTE: 22 USC 1621 note.>> ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT SERVICES. (Top of Page)
Upon the request of the Commission, the Administrator of General Services shall provide to
the Commission, on a reimbursable basis, the administrative support services necessary for
the Commission to carry out its responsibilities under this Act.
SEC. 7. <<NOTE: 22 USC 1621 note.>> TERMINATION OF THE COMMISSION.
The Commission shall terminate 90 days after the date on which the Commission submits its
final report under section 3.
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SEC. 8. <<NOTE: 22 USC 1621 note.>> MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS.
(a) Inapplicability of FACA.--The Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) does not
apply to the Commission.
(b) Public Attendance.--To the maximum extent practicable, each meeting of the Commission
shall be open to members of the public.
SEC. 9. <<NOTE: 22 USC 1621 note.>> AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.
There are authorized to be appropriated not more than $3,500,000, in total, for the
interagency funding of activities of the Commission under this Act for fiscal years 1998,
1999, and 2000, of which, notwithstanding section 1346 of title 31, United States Code,
and section 611 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act 1998, $537,000
shall be made available in equal amounts from funds made available for fiscal year 1998 to
the Departments of Justice, State, and the Army that are otherwise unobligated. Funds made
available to the Commission pursuant to this section shall remain available for obligation
until December 31, 1999.
Approved June 23, 1998.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--S. 1900 (H.R. 3662): (Top
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 144 (1998):
May 1, considered and passed Senate.
June 9, considered and passed House, amended, in lieu of
June 10, Senate concurred in House amendment.
WEEKLY COMPILATION OF PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS, Vol. 34 (1998):
June 23, Presidential statement