Republicans in the upper house demanded answers Tuesday from the Justice Department over President Biden’s new pandemic prosecutor, who earlier this year was asked to oversee an investigation into hundreds of billions of dollars the government paid on suspicion of coronavirus fraud.
Republican lawmakers said that despite bold statements by the administration, Mr Biden had not asked for funding for the pandemic prosecutor in his new budget.
And lawmakers said they found it difficult to figure out what role Kevin Chambers, the assistant deputy attorney general who had been appointed to the post, would play, given the hundreds of cases already underway by U.S. prosecutors across the country.
“The biggest theft of taxpayer dollars in our lives has fueled the inflation crisis, hampered legal unemployment benefits and turned thousands of Americans into unconscious victims of identity theft,” said Texas MP Kevin Brady, a leading Republican in the House of Representatives. and the Funds Committee, which was joined in the call for answers by ranking Republicans in the Budget, Justice and Small Business Committees.
The Washington Times asked the Department of Justice for comment.
The alleged fraud dates back to the early days of the pandemic, when Congress and President Trump opened a government checkbook to pour trillions of dollars into Americans’ pockets by increasing unemployment benefits, expanding health insurance or payments to keep businesses afloat and prevent the economy from shifting.
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Mr. Biden and Congress delivered another $ 1.9 trillion package early last year, delivering aid directly to states so they could spend it on their needs. Economists say federal money has helped create more jobs and a rapid rebound in U.S. growth in 2021.
But lawmakers knew they were wrong on the speed side, shutting down the usual eligibility checks to get money out the door – and inviting new levels of fraud.
False unemployment benefits are estimated to account for up to 40% of the nearly $ 900 billion spent during the pandemic, with a large percentage of fraud committed by foreign criminal syndicates.
“Unfortunately, Democrats in Washington have ignored this issue and refused to hold even one look,” Mr Brady said.
The new pandemic prosecutor’s office should be the Democrats’ response to large-scale fraud. The Justice Department said Mr Chambers is accused of focusing on large-scale criminal operators, and especially on foreign unions.
Although the Ministry of Justice has opened hundreds of criminal cases, including some high-profile prosecutions of thieves, it is struggling to get large chunks of money that are believed to have flowed abroad.
And it turned out to be almost impossible to return the money.
The inspector general of the Department of Labor, which oversees the unemployment program, said last week that from October 1 to March 31, he collected $ 90 million in returns, fines, penalties and confiscations.
The Congressional Budget Office says the government will continue to spend money on pandemic-related legislation until the 2030s.
Republicans on Tuesday said it suggests the pandemic prosecutor’s job may need to become a permanent position in the Justice Department.