Tennessee Senator Introduces Bill to Recover Hundreds of Billions in Unemployment Fraud

Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) joined Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) to reintroduce a bill, known as “The Protecting Taxpayers and Victims of Unemployment Fraud Act.” According to Blackburn, the bill would help recover funds lost to unemployment insurance fraud and provide incentives for states to recover fraudulent payments. 

Unemployment insurance fraud during the pandemic was widespread and unacceptable, and taxpayers footed the bill,” Blackburn said. “Those who broke the law in receiving these payments must be identified and held accountable. The Protecting Taxpayers and Victims of Unemployment Fraud Act will empower state governments to find and prosecute those who committed fraud, recover the stolen funds, and help prevent unemployment insurance fraud on this scale from happening again.”

The Protecting Taxpayers and Victims of Unemployment Fraud Act would advance efforts to claw back federal funds stolen through unemployment insurance fraud and pursue recovery of fraudulent payments by ensuring aggressive identification, investigation and prosecution of criminal fraud in pandemic unemployment programs. It also gives the federal government and states better tools to detect and prevent future fraud in federal UI programs. The U.S. House of Representatives, led by House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.), passed a companion bill (H.R. 1163).

The Protecting Taxpayers and Victims of Unemployment Fraud Act:

·       Allows states to keep 25 percent of recovered fraudulent overpayments of federal funds.

·       Allows states to use recovered funds to improve program integrity and fraud prevention.

·       Allows states to keep 5 percent of state UI overpayments, conditioned on meeting data matching integrity conditions and dedicating those funds to preventing future fraud.

·       Extends the statute of limitations for criminal charges or civil actions from 5 to 10 years.

In addition to Senator Blackburn, the bill is co-sponsored by John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Kennedy (R-La.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.).

Matt O'Hern
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