House Budget Committee Republican Leader Jason Smith (MO-08), House Energy & Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), and House Ways & Means Committee Republican Leader Kevin Brady (TX-08) in a letter to President Biden, slammed the Administration for its failure to account for how, when, and where funding supposedly meant to address COVID-19 has been distributed and spent to date. The letter comes just days after America reached its highest average daily COVID-19 case number, nearly two years since the emergence of the virus.
In the letter, Smith, Rodgers, and Brady note that recent reports as well as specific statements from Biden Administration officials indicate that the Administration is planning to request additional taxpayer dollars in the name of combatting COVID-19. Meanwhile, despite multiple requests for information from Congress, the Biden Administration has offered very little information or accounting about current COVID-19 spending, even as dozens of examples of tens of billions worth of misused federal taxpayer dollars have been publicly reported.
With Americans stuck in lines waiting hours for COVID-19 testing or unable to find at-home tests, reports indicate that the Biden Administration also diverted $850 million in funding meant to support the nation’s COVID-19 testing capabilities, to instead deal with the fallout from the Administration’s self-created border crisis – including to provide housing for those that illegally crossed the southern border in the wake of Administration policies that weakened border security and encouraged illegal immigration. Additional damage has been done to the nation’s public health preparedness with hundreds of millions reportedly diverted from re-stockpiling the Strategic National Stockpile in order to deal with President Biden’s border crisis.
“After Democrats passed $2 trillion in spending to supposedly combat COVID-19, Americans are wondering where their tax dollars went and why we seem less prepared to handle the virus today than ever before,” said House Budget Committee Republican Leader Smith. “The Biden Administration’s failure to adequately respond to the virus shows it has not been forthright with the American people or Congress about how it spent hard-earned taxpayer dollars. Given this Administration’s lack of transparency with COVID-19 spending, additional requests for funding look to be nothing more than a smokescreen to use the pandemic as a way to spend even more on the Democrats’ agenda.”
“President Biden has failed to shut down this virus,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Rodgers. “Before his administration makes any requests for more spending, it must first provide us with details on how it spent trillions in COVID-19 funds. There are many concerning examples of money spent on programs that have nothing to do with COVID-19. This lack of accountability is unacceptable, especially to every child who isolated and missed school, our exhausted health care workers, and every American who is tired of living in fear in this pandemic. They deserve a government that is transparent to them. President Biden owes them answers.”
“Less than a dime of every dollar in Democrats’ $1.9 trillion bill in March went to COVID vaccines and defeating the virus, prioritizing a massive social spending agenda that worsened both inflation and the labor shortage,” said House Ways and Means Committee Republican Leader Brady. “Because Democrats took their eye off the ball on COVID, Americans have every right to seek greater transparency and accountability before the Biden Administration spends any more of their hard-earned tax dollars.”
The letter from Smith, Rodgers, and Brady reminds President Biden that the $2 trillion in funding already enacted by his Administration for COVID-relief allocated less than 9 percent to combatting the virus via public health spending.
In addition to the diversion of funds by the Administration directly, multiple examples of misuse and abuse are chronicled within the letter.
“Of the other 91 percent of the spending in ARPA – a bill supposedly about COVID-19 – rampant examples of misuse and waste continue to pile up,” wrote Smith, Rodgers, and Brady. “Hundreds of billions of dollars have been used to bail out state governments, and to build bike trails, new high school weight rooms, apartment buildings, and golf courses, to name just a few examples. Simply put, this Administration’s first request to Congress for COVID-19 dollars resulted in multiple, easily predicted instances of non-COVID related spending. What’s worse, when asked to account for these taxpayer dollars or answer questions about their use, your Administration has remained silent.”
The letter provides a timeline of Congressional activity and funding provided for COVID-19 – including multiple instances where Ranking Members of the House Budget Committee, House Energy & Commerce Committee, House Oversight and Reform Committee, and House Homeland Security Committee have made requests of the Biden Administration to provide needed transparency and accountability around its use of taxpayer dollars. Smith, Rodgers, and Brady also provide an accounting of almost half a trillion dollars in funds remaining from the $2 trillion in so-called “COVID-relief” enacted in March 2021 that should be first used to boost mitigation efforts before asking American taxpayers for more money.
In closing, Smith, Rodgers, and Brady request answers from the Biden Administration about the status of unspent funds meant for COVID-19, including the amount and status of transferred and reprogrammed COVID-19 funding that was diverted to address the Administration’s border crisis.
“American taxpayers deserve an honest and detailed accounting of where the $6 trillion in COVID-19 relief passed by Congress has been spent and how much remains,” wrote Smith, Rodgers, and Brady. “Your Administration has misused taxpayer dollars to spend on items unrelated to COVID-19 and repurposed funds for the southern border crisis of your own creation. The American people deserve transparency and answers to these important questions from their government before being asked to further foot the bill for another attempt by your White House to spend hundreds of billions or even trillions more in the name of ‘combatting COVID-19.’ A permanent pandemic narrative cannot be used by your office to avoid this responsibility.”