When Americans pay their taxes, they place trust in Congress to act as responsible stewards of their hard-earned money. But since the pandemic began, criminals have been taking advantage of COVID unemployment programs, abusing taxpayer dollars to the tune of tens — or potentially hundreds — of billions in unchecked unemployment fraud.
Republicans warned that these federal programs were highly vulnerable to fraud, yet almost every Democrat voted to extend them without ever holding a single oversight investigation.
To be clear, these are not just minor, unorganized bad actors. Criminal organizations are using stolen identities to falsely claim unemployment benefits, delaying legitimate payments and snatching funds away from countless Americans in need of assistance.
California alone has paid out at least $11.4 billion in fraudulent claims, and reports suggest that the total may be closer to $30 billion. Nationally, the Department of Labor estimates the total fraudulent payments to date are between $63 billion and $89 billion, but some officials warn that it could be as much as $200 billion.
American taxpayers deserve better. It is incumbent upon Congress to protect American families and small businesses from criminals exploiting the system.
These crimes cannot continue to go unchecked. That is why today House Republicans are introducing the Combatting COVID Unemployment Fraud Act of 2021, legislation that will:
- Help prevent fraud on the front end
- By requiring verification of identity, earnings, and prior employment.
- Make it easier to recuperate fraudulently paid dollars
- By establishing the joint COVID Unemployment Fraud Taskforce
- Provide relief to victims of unemployment fraud
- By implementing protections for taxpayers and victims of unemployment fraud.
Congress must act now to reign in fraud and protect hardworking taxpayers. House Democrats owe it to their constituents to join Republicans in support of this bill and help put an end to the rampant unemployment fraud their policies helped create.