Pandemic Response Report is a weekly newsletter about America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic from Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis (SSOCC) Republicans. 

What’s Important  Republicans Introduce Bill to Recover Unchecked Unemployment Fraud: Recently, top Republicans introduced the Chase COVID Unemployment Fraud Act to recover unchecked pandemic unemployment fraud. Unemployment fraud has left taxpayers on the hook for $163 billion, and just over $4 billion has been recovered. Select Subcommittee Republicans Blast Democrats for Ignoring Pandemic Unemployment Fraud: Last week, Republicans blasted Democrats for refusing to investigate pandemic relief fraud. Dr. Birx to Testify Before the Select Subcommittee: This week, Dr. Deborah Birx, the former White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, will testify before the Select Subcommittee. Crisis CornerRepublicans Introduce Bill to Recover Unchecked Unemployment Fraud: Unemployment fraud during the pandemic has been the greatest theft of taxpayer dollars in American history. Criminal organizations, including international cybercrime rings and opportunistic foreign actors, exploited a national crisis to steal billions from taxpayers. Unemployment fraud has left taxpayers on the hook for $163 billion—and counting. Just over $4 billion has been recovered. Recently, top Republicans introduced the Chase COVID Unemployment Fraud Act to recover unchecked unemployment fraud. The bill gains restitution for taxpayers by jumpstarting efforts to claw back federal funds and pursue recovery of fraudulent payments. It focuses on incentivizing states to recover fraudulent unemployment payments, prevents fraud through data matching, identity validation, and income verification, prohibits the Biden Administration from allowing states to waive suspicious overpayments, and requires the Department of Labor to report on fraudulent overpayments and amounts recovered. This Week in SSOCCSelect Subcommittee Republicans Blast Democrats for Ignoring Pandemic Unemployment Fraud: Last week, Republicans blasted Democrats for refusing to investigate pandemic unemployment benefit fraud. The Labor Department’s Office of the Inspector General estimates an improper payment rate of nearly 19 percent in 2021 for the enhanced unemployment insurance (UI) program. This means at least $163 billion could have been improperly paid, with a significant portion attributable to fraud. There are numerous examples of domestic UI fraud—one man from New York received $1.5 million over ten months and a California real estate broker got more than $500,000 over six months. One person used the same Social Security number to file UI claims in 40 different states. In addition, the program was targeted by criminal organizations and enemy nation-states. A ProPublica investigation found that a substantial amount of UI fraud can be attributed to organized crime, both in the United States and abroad. Estimates by some say that at least 70 percent of the money stolen ultimately went to foreign nationals in China, Russia, and Nigeria. Congress has a responsibility to protect American taxpayers. We should be doing everything we can to aggressively identify, investigate, and prosecute the criminal fraud in pandemic unemployment programs. Dr. Birx to Testify Before the Select Subcommittee: This week, Dr. Deborah Birx, the former White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, will testify before the Select Subcommittee. In October 2021, Dr. Birx testified during a staff-led transcribed interview that President Biden, at the time, was not doing everything in his power to prevent deaths from COVID-19. She also confirmed dangerous gain-of-function research was occurring at the Wuhan Lab and should no longer be funded by U.S. taxpayers.  What They’re SayingUndoing the Covid ‘Taxpayer Heist’ (WSJ Editorial Board)“When the pandemic and lockdowns first arrived, lawmakers sent checks out the door without worrying much about who was cashing them. The result was no surprise: Fraudsters claimed a bigger-than-ever share of benefit payments over the past two years. Now with the emergency long past, House Republicans plan to recoup as much misspent cash as possible. GOP members of the House Ways and Means Committee introduced a bill this month to track the flow of wasted funds and fix the practices that enabled leakage. Citing the Labor Department, they say at least $163 billion of the $873 billion spent on unemployment insurance was spent in error, including “a significant portion attributable to fraud.” Only about $4 billion has been recovered.” WHO covid origins report says lab leak theory needs further investigation (Washington Post)“A team of scientists convened by the World Health Organization to better understand the origins of the covid-19 pandemic and other future outbreaks has said that a theory that the coronavirus could have escaped from a laboratory was one avenue that needed ‘further investigations.’ However, in a report released on Thursday, the WHO-backed team said they had not received any new data that would allow them to better evaluate that theory. Members of the group from Brazil, China and Russia objected to the calls for further investigation into the ‘lab leak’ theory.” Member MentionsHouse Republican Whip and Select Subcommittee Ranking Member Steve Scalise (R-La.) blasts Democrats for ignoring pandemic unemployment fraud.

 

 

Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-Texas) introduces the Chase COVID Unemployment Fraud Act.

 

 

Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) sounds the alarm on pandemic unemployment fraud.

 

 

Representative Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) questions why Democrats waited for over a year to examine pandemic relief fraud.

 

 

Select Subcommittee Republicans continue to call for a COVID origins investigation.