Amid massive fraud reported in the Covid-19 unemployment program, Congressional Republicans are renewing a call for the House Oversight Committee to investigate.
According to Republican Reps. James Comer, Darrell Issa and Gary Palmer, they wrote the lead Democrat on the Oversight Committee, Carolyn Maloney, back in February asking for a hearing. At the time, they said fraudulent payouts of unemployment benefits in California alone were estimated to be between $11 billion and $31 billion.
However, no hearing was called.
Now, the Congressmen say the national unemployment fraud may be more than $400 billion, according to reports, "more than the gross domestic product of 35 states."
They are again asking for a hearing.
Currently, Republicans are in the minority in the House meaning they do not have the power to call a hearing themselves.
Read the letter below.
Dear Chairwoman Maloney:
June 17, 2021
Four months ago, on February 11, 2021, we wrote to you requesting a hearing on fraudulent unemployment benefits in California, which at the time were estimated to be between $11 - $31 billion. We noted that fraudulent payouts had gone to “organized crime sources in Russia, China, and other countries.” You did not schedule a hearing.
This week we learned that “[c]riminals may have stolen as much as half of the unemployment benefits the U.S. has been pumping out over the past year.”3 This amount may be “more than $400 billion” 4—a simply staggering number, and more than the gross domestic product of 35 states.5 To make matters worse, “the bulk of the money likely ended in the hands of foreign crime syndicates – making this not just theft, but a matter of national security.”6 One journalist has called this the “heist of the century.”7 In short, what we warned you in February was happening in California, appears to have happened on a national scale.
Overseeing proper stewardship of taxpayer funds is one of the most critical functions the Oversight Committee can perform. Indeed, it is at the core of the Committee’s mission of ferreting out waste, fraud, and abuse in our government. House Rule X, clause 3(i) provides that the Committee shall “review and study on a continuing basis the operation of Government at all levels with a view to determining their economy and efficiency.” There can be no doubt that this Committee should be steadfastly committed and driven to investigating the $400 billion stolen from American taxpayers since the beginning of the pandemic—nearly $1 billion per day.
The Honorable Carolyn Maloney June 17, 2021
There is no telling how much lower this $400 billion may have been had the Committee held a timely hearing on fraudulent unemployment benefits to alert people across the country of these criminal schemes. However, it is not too late. The Committee still has the power to find out what happened to this money to help prevent more fraud in the future. We therefore write again today urging you to hold a hearing on fraudulent claims of pandemic-assistance unemployment benefits.
We look forward to receiving your timely response. Sincerely,
Committee on Oversight and Reform
Member of Congress
Republican Policy Committee