Washington, D.C. – President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget request includes several of the same fraud recovery and prevention measures Democrats railed against during the mark-up of Ways and Means Republicans’ Protecting Taxpayers and Victims of Unemployment Fraud Act (H.R. 1163), including:
- Allowing states to keep 5% of recovered overpayments of unemployment benefits and reinvest those dollars in program integrity and fraud prevention.
- Included in Section 3 of H.R. 1163.
- Matching unemployment claims data against the National Directory of New Hires to verify when someone receiving unemployment becomes employed.
- Included in Section 4 of H.R. 1163.
- Extending the statute of limitations for criminal charges and civil actions for prosecuting fraud from 5 to 10 years, as recommended by the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee in testimony provided to the Ways and Means Committee.
- Included in Section 6 of H.R. 1163.
Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) said: “The unemployment insurance program – intended to be a lifeline for our workers – was turned into one of the most flawed and wasteful recovery efforts ever enacted by the federal government. For two years, the Biden Administration and Washington Democrats were asleep at the wheel while fraudsters and foreign criminals took advantage of vulnerable Americans to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. After declaring ‘the watchdogs are back’ in his first State of the Union address, it has taken President Biden nearly two years to finally embrace anti-fraud policies that Republicans have been calling for. Furthermore, the President’s budget illustrates just how wildly out of touch members of his own party are, who, just the other week, voted against Republican legislation to strengthen fraud prevention and empower states to recover funds and seek justice on behalf of victims. The American people expect Congress to do everything in its power to bring these criminals to justice. Until President Biden and his party get on the same page, taxpayers may be forced to wait even longer.”
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During the 117th Congress, Committee Democrats neglected to hold a single hearing to examine unprecedented levels of fraud in pandemic unemployment programs, despite repeated calls from Republicans and multiple early warnings from non-partisan oversight and watchdog agencies.
According to testimony provided by the Department of Labor Inspector General (DOL-IG), improper payments in unemployment programs have left taxpayers on the hook for at least $191 billion. Outside experts put the number much higher at $400 billion. This is exactly the type of fraud and waste taxpayers expect Congress to combat. Just over $5 billion has been recovered.
The Protecting Taxpayers and Victims of Unemployment Fraud Act was successfully voted out of the Ways & Means Committee on February 28th, despite strong opposition from Democrats. After two years of turning a blind eye to the greatest theft of taxpayer dollars in American history, every single Ways and Means Democrat voted against this proposal to recover billions in misspent funds and gain restitution for taxpayers.
Bottom Line: It’s better late than never that President Biden is finally waking up and joining the fight against fraud. Hopefully congressional Democrats will join the Administration and congressional Republicans in efforts to combat fraud and protect the American taxpayer.