House Republicans pass unemployment fraud bill

Published: May. 12, 2023 at 3:07 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - House Republicans just passed a bill aimed at recovering billions of dollars in fraudulent federal and state unemployment benefits.

The Protecting Taxpayers and Victims of Unemployment Fraud Act passed in a 230-200 vote. Ten Democrats joined with Republicans to pass it.

It would incentivize states to go after unemployment fraudsters, allowing them to keep a quarter of recovered funds.

Back in 2021, 7 News did several reports on schemes to steal people’s identities and take advantage of unemployment insurance during the pandemic.

A report from the State Comptroller last year estimated that New York lost $11 billion to unemployment fraud between January 2020 and March 2022.

House Republicans say this bill will help recover some of that money.

Watertown’s Congresswoman Claudia Tenney co-sponsored the bill. She spoke about it on the House floor Thursday.

“On top of all this, New York has an outstanding trust fund loan of nearly $8 billion which it’s yet to repay. Because of New York’s gross mismanagement, taxpayers and small businesses must now make up the difference. After all the hardships they’ve endured over the past several years, how can it possibly be fair to ask them to pick up the tab for the government’s negligence and incompetence,” said 24th Congressional District Representative Claudia Tenney.

Meanwhile, embattled Long Island Congressman George Santos, who voted for and co-sponsored this bill, was indicted this week on 13 federal charges including this exact type of fraud.

Santos allegedly claimed nearly $25,000 in unemployment aid he was not entitled to.

Santos pleaded not guilty and says he will fight the case against him.