GOP Oversight chairman sounds alarm over ‘massive amounts’ of COVID ‘theft’ as reports say billions missing
House Oversight Committee chairman James Comer, R-Ky., sounded the alarm over “massive amounts of fraud” taken from U.S. COVID-19 programs Wednesday after reports found that tens of billions were stolen or simply went missing during the pandemic.
Comer is holding a hearing to investigate COVID-19 fraud Wednesday. Government watchdogs and the Department of Labor (DOL) itself have indicated that COVID-19 waste, fraud and abuse cost the U.S. up to $163 billion throughout the pandemic.
“There has been massive amounts of fraud. Like we’ve heard from reports from the media, I fear there has been massive amounts of fraud,” Comer told Fox News Digital prior to Wednesday’s hearing. “We want to know if there’s a way to claw back any of this money–if there’s a way to hold people accountable for wrongdoing, and what steps these different government agencies have done to prevent this in the future.”
Comer went on to bash Democrats who are refusing to move forward with officially declaring an end to the pandemic, saying the evidence of “theft” in aid programs is overwhelming.
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“I think this is what’s going to infuriate every American. After this hearing, they will be like, ‘Where has Congress been for the last two years?” Comer responded. So” this is our very first hearing in a Republican majority, my first hearing as Chairman, and that’s what we’re gonna focus on.”
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The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found this week that the DOL spent $45 billion on fraudulent claims for unemployment insurance during the pandemic. It also stated that the department has yet to implement reforms that might prevent future fraud.
“Without an antifraud strategy, DOL is not able to ensure that it is addressing the most significant fraud risks facing the UI system in alignment with the Fraud Risk Framework,” the GAO said in a report.
Meanwhile, the DOL’s inspector general found that the department had lost $163 billion during the pandemic, though that tally included other losses beyond fraud.
Comer requested this week’s GAO report in 2022, alongside fellow Republicans Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho; former GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, and former Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas.