WASHINGTON, DC – In response to the Biden Administration’s failure to provide timely accountings of the size, scope, and severity of pandemic fraud perpetrated on the American public, House Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) sent a letter to Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Galdo, the acting “Chief Pandemic Prosecutor,” inviting him to testify at a Ways and Means committee hearing on unemployment insurance (UI) fraud on February 8, 2023.
To date, the Biden Administration has offered few public details about its efforts to recover potentially hundreds of billions of stolen taxpayer dollars. In his 2022 State of the Union address, President Biden announced, “the watchdogs are back” and “we’re going after the criminals who stole billions of relief money.” Yet, the Chief Pandemic Prosecutor position has remained vacant since December.
In the letter, Chairman Smith notes the potential scale of fraud in the COVID UI program demands that Congress thoroughly investigate this theft of tax dollars:
“A growing body of evidence shows fraud from COVID-19 federal spending and government benefits has exceeded hundreds of billions of dollars, although the exact figure is not known. This long overdue hearing will mark the beginning of the Committee’s investigation into the size, scope, and severity of fraud in federal pandemic unemployment programs.”
- UI Fraud is the greatest theft of taxpayer dollars in American history: Last month, the Government Accountability Office estimated the theft was at least $60 billion, the Department of Labor’s Inspector General estimated the theft was $163 billion, and an outside estimate claims as much as $400 billion was stolen.
- Democrat majority refused to hold the Biden Administration accountable for recovering the funds: Fraud at this scale demands investigations into how this theft happened and vigorous efforts to recover stolen taxpayer dollars. Congress has not been informed in any meaningful way by the Biden Administration. In the majority, Ways and Means Democrats ignored two letters from committee Republicans in March 2021 and February 2022 to hold oversight hearings. As a result, Congress is in the dark about what, if anything, the Biden Administration is doing.
- Biden Administration has been asleep at the wheel overseeing the fraud: 14 months after he took his Oath of Office, President Biden announced the creation of a “Chief Pandemic Prosecutor” to investigate fraud in COVID-era programs. That position remains vacant since December 2022.
- Democrats rejected Republican efforts to fight against unchecked unemployment fraud. During a September 2022 mark-up, Ways and Means Republicans offered a “resolution of inquiry” to force top Administration officials to respond with specific factual information about the Department of Labor’s knowledge of UI dollars flowing to international crime syndicates, which Democrats rejected.