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Republicans in Congress are demanding answers after the Biden administration admitted 20 percent of COVID-19 relief funds were stolen by fraudsters backed by foreign governments, with Russia and China pocketing most of the loot.

40 percent or more of the $700 billion spent on pandemic-related unemployment benefits were lost to fraud, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Republican members reveal.

In all, $175 billion to foreign fraudsters.  $140 billion of that, 20 percent of the overall amount spent by the U.S. government, was stolen by theft rings backed by foreign governments.

Russian and Chinese-government backed thieves pocketed the most.

“The theft of up to $280 billion in unemployment benefits due to fraudulent activity by foreign adversaries and criminals is a major scandal and a breach of our national security. To put this number in perspective, the amount of pandemic relief money lost to fraud over the past 18 months is the same as we spent on the Apollo program over 13 years to put men on the moon,” said Kentucky Republican Representative Scott Franklin

“Where possible, the perpetrators of these crimes should be tracked down and prosecuted, and those who negligently allowed this fraud, waste, and abuse to happen must be held accountable for betraying American taxpayers’ trust. Our government simply must instill stronger oversight into distribution of tax dollars. This is unacceptable and the American people deserve better,” said Rep. Franklin.

“It’s unacceptable that tens of billions of taxpayer dollars were stolen by foreign adversaries. Americans’ hard-earned money shouldn’t be lining the pockets of Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, and their cronies who are opposed to our interests. The Justice Department must provide us with answers about how it plans to combat and prosecute these crimes,” said Ranking Member James Comer.

“For nearly a year I’ve sounded the alarm about massive fraud in pandemic unemployment benefits, but Oversight Committee Democrats have refused to hold a single hearing on this gross mismanagement of taxpayer dollars. The mission of the Oversight Committee is to root out waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in the federal government and Republicans will continue working to ensure safeguards are in place to protect taxpayers,” said Comer.

“The Department of Justice recently told Republican committee staff it has charged nearly $1 billion in intended loss of COVID-19 relief to fraud, but based on estimates, this means there are still hundreds of billions in unidentified loss. The Justice Department also refused to share how many active cases involve transnational organizations or state-sponsored organizations,” committee Republicans report.

So far, House Democrats have refused to hold hearings on the billions in theft by Russian and Chinese officials.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Michael Brigham has written for American Action News since the summer of 2019. His areas of expertise include foreign affairs, government, and politics, but regardless of the subject matter, he has a nose and an insatiable appetite for news. In his free time, he enjoys reading nonfiction, watching a mix of comedies and true crime documentaries, and spending time away from the swamp hiking in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

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