A key Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee is citing billions of dollars in pandemic-relief fraud in accusing Joe Biden and his administration of a massive “cover-up.”
The comments from U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, came during a congressional briefing on “the estimated $80 billion of pandemic unemployment payment fraud,” explains a report in Just the News.
“Right now our Democrat colleagues are continuing to turn a blind eye to what’s possibly the greatest theft of American taxpayer dollars in American history,” Brady charged.
“Faced with billions of dollars lost to unchecked unemployment fraud involving organized cybercrime and international crime rings, Democrats have ignored repeated calls for congressional oversight hearings,” he charged.
He said the government properly stepped in to help when the China virus that became known as COVID-19 hit hard, but fraud soon followed.
“It was necessary to help the jobless, but these programs lingered and became one of the most flawed and wasteful recovery efforts ever enacted by the federal government. In fact, total state and federal spending on enhanced pandemic unemployment benefits exceeded $850 billion in less than two years. These programs have stunted our economic growth and worsened the labor shortage, resulting in the highest inflation in 40 years,” he said.
One of the significant problems, he charged, is that lawmakers even now don’t have an accurate assessment of what tax money was lost.
“At the low end, the White House estimates nearly $80 billion has been lost to fraud last year, but outside experts put that number much higher, estimating that criminal fraudsters have stolen $400 billion from American taxpayers — that’s half of all the COVID unemployment aid,” he explained.
He said that’s about the equivalent of the entire 2021 budgets for the Army and Navy combined.
He said the Democrats refused Republican attempts, through legislative amendments to last year’s stimulus program, to crack down on relief funding and prevent fraud.
But the cover-up goes well beyond, he said.
“Now, the Biden administration has taken unilateral action to sweep suspected fraud under the rug, allowing states to waive large numbers of suspicious claims and forego recovery and restitution for taxpayers. This is a cover-up from the Biden administration on an issue that has cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.
“Enough is enough, it’s time for Congress to go after fraudsters and recover the dollars that have been lost.”
He said GOP members on the committee are trying again, with a proposed Combating COVID Unemployment Fraud Act that would cut down on fraudulent allocations in the first place, but also allow for the government to seek the return of dollars paid to fraud.
Indiana Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski suggested about one-fifth of all pandemic unemployment claims were improper.
She added, “The truth is we don’t know the size and scope of unemployment fraud or the full extent of federal law enforcement officers’ efforts to prosecute and recover funds.”
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