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Chairman Smith Opening Statement: Markup of Views and Estimates, Oversight Plan for the 118th Congress, and the Protecting Taxpayers and Victims of Unemployment Fraud Act

February 28, 2023

As prepared for delivery.

“Last year, Americans told Congress that our country needed a new direction. Small businesses, farmers, and working families are fed up with the crises that have come to define life in Biden’s America.

“These crises did not happen by accident – they are the result of choices made by Washington Democrats. Federal spending has increased by $10 trillion since Joe Biden became President. It started with the $2 trillion so-called Rescue Plan, which sparked the inflation crisis. Then we had the “Inflation Reduction Act,” which handed out billions of tax dollars to subsidize wealthy environmentalists. And that doesn’t include President Biden’s student debt cancellation for the wealthy, and the more than one trillion dollars he’s spent through executive orders. Inflation is raging and interest rates are rising, pushing the American Dream out of reach for millions of families, who are still struggling with high prices at the pump because of the Biden Administration’s war on fossil fuels.

“Americans expect Congress to build a strong economy – an economy that doesn’t force working families to choose between putting food on their tables or fuel in their cars. They expect us to hold the Biden Administration accountable for abusing taxpayers and squandering their hard-earned money. Today, the Ways and Means Committee is taking steps to lead America in a new direction.

“The committee will mark up three items today that will help us fulfill our commitment to America. The first is this committee’s views and estimates for the Budget Committee. The second is adopting our plan to conduct the aggressive oversight during the 118th Congress which has been missing for the last two years. The third is H.R. 1163, the Protecting Taxpayers and Victims of Unemployment Fraud Act, to recover for taxpayers hundreds of billions in stolen unemployment benefits.

“The views and estimates reflect our commitment to put families, workers, farmers, and small businesses first. We will build on the success of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to help families escape poverty through greater opportunity, reduce health care costs, conduct aggressive oversight over the IRS, and reshore and strengthen our supply chains. As the committee with jurisdiction over Social Security and Medicare, under my Chairmanship this Committee will protect these vital programs and ensure that they meet the needs of the hardworking Americans who rely upon them.

“The oversight plan makes clear that this committee will be aggressive in asking the tough questions the American people want answered. How does the White House plan to spend the $80 billion they handed the IRS? What actions led up to and caused the leaking of sensitive taxpayer information at that agency? Why are Democrats showering tax breaks on companies that incite culture wars and shed their American identity to cozy up to China? And who, exactly, is receiving the hundreds of billions of dollars in Green New Deal tax credits Democrats passed last year?

“A key element of our oversight plan is getting to the bottom of the massive theft of tax dollars through unemployment fraud. As we heard during our last hearing, the Biden Administration is in the dark on the size, scope, and severity of this problem. And they also have really no plan to try and recoup it for taxpayers.

“The range is anywhere from $60 billion to $400 billion, meaning almost half of the money would have been lost to criminals and international crime rings.

“Unemployment fraud is not a victimless crime. At a time when Americans were at their most vulnerable, criminals stole their weekly benefits and identities. Republicans worked for more than two years to protect this program from criminals who exploited it for their own gain. We made two requests for oversight hearings, introduced legislation to provide us with the incentives and tools to fight fraud, introduced multiple amendments in this committee to add common-sense safeguards, tried to get the Department of Labor to respond to our requests. All of that was ignored, blocked, and shot down by Democrats in the majority.

“Only $5 billion of the potentially $400 billion has been recovered. Meanwhile, the Biden Administration official responsible for prosecuting fraud has resigned and the position sits vacant to this day. After two years of raising the alarm, House Republicans are turning on the lights about the greatest theft of taxpayer dollars in American history.

“The American people expect the Biden Administration and Congress to aggressively pursue the criminals who defrauded our constituents. We have a responsibility to use every tool at our disposal to recover that money and leave no stone unturned in the process.”