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Buchanan: Americans Deserve Accountability for Billions Lost in COVID-Unemployment Benefits

May 19, 2022

With estimates that as much as $400 billion were stolen from pandemic-era unemployment payments, the programs also worsened the labor shortage, warned Health Subcommittee Republican Leader (and former Oversight  Subcommittee Chairman) Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) in an interview with Fox Business’ “Kudlow.”

CLICK HERE to watch the full interview.

While the Washington Post reports that more than $163 billion in unemployment benefits was lost to fraud or improper payments, Rep. Buchanan noted that “it’s probably closer, unfortunately, to $400 billion,” and that Democrats have been reluctant to do oversight on the issue. “We’ve been pushing it for the last year aggressively.”

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

Rep. Buchanan noted that COVID-era programs have not only been a magnet for fraud and abuse, but also worsened the inflation crisis: “It’s also had a huge impact, I think on small business in terms of people finding workers as well.” 

READ: ​​Fact Check: Dems’ War on Work Raised Recession Risks & Held Back Returning to Work

Key Takeaways:

Democrats’ War on Work Worsened Bidenflation. 

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.
  • Soon after, the Biden Administration made matters worse when it issued guidance allowing states to forgo recovery of overpayments.  
  • Outside experts say as much as $400 billion could have been lost to fraud or improper payments.

Republican Committee Members Have Sounded the Alarm on Fraud Since the Government Ramped Up Pandemic Spending.

  • 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.

 READ: 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 and 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. 
  • Ways and Means Republicans, led by Republican Leader of the Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) held two public meetings with industry experts to raise awareness and offer for taxpayer dollars. Watch those meetings here and here.