U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced new legislation to continue to fund and restore the jurisdiction of the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery so that it can investigate fraud within the Treasury Department’s pandemic programs, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This anti-fraud legislation comes as the Biden Administration is lobbying for more federal dollars for COVID-19.
SIGPR was created by the CARES Act in 2020 to conduct oversight and investigate fraud into the unprecedented amounts of federal funds dispersed during the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of lawmakers, including Senator Hawley, have referred fraud allegations to SIGPR, which has proved it can be an effective and important watchdog for preventing fraud of taxpayer dollars in federal pandemic programs.
However, the Biden Administration has stripped SIGPR of its jurisdiction and attempted to undermine its authority. SIGPR also faces issues with underfunding which will impact its operations.
Senator Hawley said, “Congress has appropriated an enormous amount of federal aid for COVID-19 programs. The last thing the Biden Administration should do is undermine an independent watchdog and strip this office of its ability to investigate fraud in programs that use millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars.”
In a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on pandemic response, Senator Hawley blasted the Biden Administration for gutting pandemic fraud oversight.
The anti-fraud legislation will:
- Restore SIGPR’s jurisdiction to investigate fraud overall pandemic-related Treasury programs. This abrogates the Biden Administration’s legal opinion last April stripping SIGPR of jurisdiction over the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other programs.
- Provide emergency appropriations of $25 million per year for the next three years. This would prevent SIGPR from shutting down before its congressional mandate is complete.
You can read the entire bill here.