(NewsGlobal.com)- The ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee has accused Democrat lawmakers and the White House of trying to cover up the massive unemployment fraud from the pandemic “relief” spending bills.
Texas Congressman Kevin Brady said his Democrat colleagues are turning a “blind eye” to what he called “the greatest theft of American taxpayer dollars” in history.
During a briefing last Tuesday, Brady said Democrats refuse to hold oversight hearings to investigate the estimated $80 billion in enhanced unemployment fraud. And because the stimulus funding contained in the COVID relief legislation continued into 2021, it has only led to even more fraud.
While Brady believed these relief packages were initially needed, the fact that they linger on made them “one of the most flawed and wasteful recovery efforts” enacted by Congress. What’s more, these enhanced unemployment programs have “stunted our economic growth and worsened the labor shortage,” not to mention fueled the current 40-year-high inflation rate.
Despite this, Brady said, members of Congress still don’t know just how much money has been lost to fraud. It could be anywhere from $80 billion to as much as $400 billion, Brady said.
Brady added that the stolen pandemic relief has also led to an increase in identity theft. During negotiations for last year’s “American Rescue Act” that passed in the early months of the Biden administration, Democrats blocked Republican amendments that would have targeted relief to prevent fraud, Brady said.
Brady also accused the Biden administration of taking unilateral action “to sweep suspected fraud under the rug” by permitting states to waive “suspicious claims and forego recovery and restitution for taxpayers.”
He blasted the Biden administration for trying to cover up “an issue that has cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.”
Republican members of the Ways and Means Committee have introduced legislation called Combatting COVID Unemployment Fraud Act. Brady said this bill would prevent fraud “on the front end” while supporting a “clawback of privately paid dollars.” It would also provide relief to victims of identity theft and unemployment fraud.
According to Indiana Republican Congresswoman, Jackie Walorski, the White House’s estimate that 19 percent of all pandemic unemployment claims were improperly paid out is only a partial estimate. In truth, the full size and scope of unemployment fraud are still not known.