New investigations into a pandemic-era unemployment program has found the government wasted billions of taxpayer dollars.
House Republicans held a hearing Tuesday blasting the Biden administration for the waste, fraud and abuse. They estimate as much as $80 billion was wasted by the federal bureaucracy sending improper checks. A small portion of that waste was also due to fraud.
“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,” said House Ways and Means Chair Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas. [Fraud could represent] “…half of all the COVID unemployment aid. Said another way, $400 billion is more than the entire 2021 budgets of the Army and Navy combined. This is not a victimless crime. Unchecked fraud delays legitimate payments from being made and diverts funding away from unemployed workers. It also turns thousands of Americans into unwitting identity theft victims.”
Others called for tighter measures to protect against this kind of waste in the future.
“We cannot continue this federal practice of ‘pay and chase,'” Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Indiana, said in a similar hearing last year. “There is too much at stake. Republicans on this Committee are developing a number of proposals to combat COVID unemployment fraud by strengthening program integrity and putting stronger measures in place as part of the eligibility process – up front – to protect Americans. This problem of unemployment fraud has created an added burden that is placing undue stress on thousands of Americans when they can least afford it. I look forward to hearing from our guests today to help us find solutions. It’s time to act.”
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