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Speeches and Floor Statements

Beyer Remarks On Unemployment Fraud Bill

Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Senior House Democrat on Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, and office neighbor of Rep. George Santos (R-NY) delivered remarks during floor debate on Republican legislation that would eliminate $2 billion in funding for unemployment fraud prevention.

The bill passed in the House with universal support from Republicans, including Rep. George Santos, who was indicted for numerous financial crimes including unemployment fraud yesterday.

Beyer remarks as prepared follow below (remarks delivered are available here).

Mister Speaker, I stand in opposition to this bill which is nothing more than a disingenuous attempt to undermine the federal unemployment insurance program, which provided a critical lifeline to millions of American workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

My Republican colleagues say they are concerned about unemployment fraud. I am too.

However, this bill would do nothing to claw back stolen UI funds. In fact, it would go a long way towards stopping the ongoing successful work by the federal government to fight fraud and hold criminals accountable.

It would rescind $2 billion in funding provided to the Department of Labor in the American Rescue Plan to strengthen the UI system and improve fraud detection and prevention, and replace it with a bizarre set of incentives for states to go after ordinary workers who were overpaid through no fault of their own.

DOL assistance facilitated by the Rescue Plan has already had a noticeable impact in my state of Virginia. Following guidance from the Department, the Virginia Employment Commission was able to make a significant dent in the UI appeals backlog that has plagued the state UI system for years.

It astonishes me that my friends from the other side of the aisle are advocating for a bill that would prevent the DOL from doing this type of work.

There’s no question that the UI system needs improvement, but this bill would make the system more vulnerable to fraud, less responsive, and expose American workers to surprise bills and litigation.