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REMINDER: Over $163 Billion Stolen from the Workers and Businesses Who Needed it Most

May 16, 2022

“The more than $5 trillion approved since the start of the pandemic has become a wellspring for criminal activity, allowing fraudsters to siphon money away from hard-hit American workers and businesses who needed the help most,” writes the Washington Post amidst estimates that over $163 billion in unemployment-related payments have been lost to fraud. 


The Washington Post adds, “So far, the United States has recaptured just over $4 billion of that, according to state workforce data furnished by the Labor Department this March. That amounts to roughly 2.4 percent of the wrongful payments, if the government’s best estimate is accurate, raising the specter that Washington may never get most of the money back.”


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Key Background:


The Biden Administration Has No Idea Exactly How Many Tax Dollars Have Been Lost to Fraud or Improperly Paid.

  • In February 2022, the White House estimated that 19 percent of total COVID unemployment insurance payments were lost to fraud – totaling over $80 billion.
  • The DOL’s new estimate puts that number much higher. Outside experts say the number could be as high as $400 billion.


Republican Committee Members Have Sounded the Alarm on COVID-Related Fraud for More Than a Year.

  • Ways and Means Committee Democrats unanimously rejected a proposal offered by Ways and Means Republicans to verify the identity of applicants for unemployment benefits and get documentation prior to sending any money out the door.
  • Requests for a joint hearing on fraud in pandemic-era programs have fallen on deaf ears and letters to the Biden Administration have gone unanswered.
  • In February, 2022, Republican Leaders sent a letter urging the Department of Labor to hold off on “reckless” guidance that would allow states to forgo recovery of overpayments in pandemic unemployment programs.


WATCHDOG: Less than $1 Billion Recovered as Key UI Fraud Estimate Increases to $163B


Republicans Are Fighting Against Unchecked Unemployment Fraud and Abuse of Taxpayer Dollars.

  • While the Biden Administration calls for more COVID relief, Ways and Means Republican Leader Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), House Budget Committee Republican Leader Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO), and House Energy & Commerce Committee Republican Leader Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) have demanded the Administration provide a detailed accounting of where the $6 trillion in COVID-19 funding has been spent.
  • Rep. Brady, along with top Republican leaders, introduced the Combatting COVID Unemployment Fraud Act of 2021 to prevent fraud in COVID unemployment  programs, recover fraudulently paid benefits, and provide relief for taxpayers and victims of unemployment fraud. 
    • Rep. Brady: ”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.”
  • Ways and Means Republicans, led by Republican Leader of the Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) have held two public meetings with industry experts to raise awareness and offer safeguards to taxpayer dollars. Watch those meetings here and here.