Congressman Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) championed a resolution of inquiry Tuesday to investigate the billions lost to unemployment insurance (UI) fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic and request communications from the Department of Labor (DOL) establishing DOL's knowledge of taxpayer dollars sent to organized cybercrime, foreign actors, and international crime rings. Rep. Wenstrup's resolution of inquiry received bipartisan support.
Estimates indicate that hundreds of billions in unemployment insurance was lost to fraud since the summer of 2020. In February 2022, the White House conservatively estimated that 19 percent of total COVID unemployment insurance payments were lost to fraud.
Despite this, Democrats refused to include unemployment fraud protections last year, even as they extended COVID-19 unemployment programs. The DOL issued blanket waivers, letting states off the hook, and the Department neglected to conduct due diligence and fact finding for large volumes of suspicious unemployment claims.
During Tuesday's House Ways and Means Committee markup, Congressman Wenstrup said:
"Our Democrat colleagues continue to turn a blind eye to what is possibly one of the greatest thefts of taxpayer dollars in American history. We're facing billions of dollars lost to unchecked unemployment fraud involving organized cybercrime and international crime rings. Yet the Democrats have ignored repeated calls for congressional oversight hearings. This resolution is the first time this committee has given any airtime to discussing the issue, and only now because the Majority is compelled to. A hearing on unemployment fraud remains long overdue; it's our responsibility to act as good stewards of taxpayer dollars," said Congressman Wenstrup. "We have to ensure accountability to American taxpayers that their dollars are not lost to fraudsters and international crime syndicates... Enough is enough. It's time for this Committee, and Congress, to go after fraudsters and recover the dollars that have been lost."