September 20, 2022

Smith Statement: Getting Answers on Wasteful Spending in the American Rescue Plan

As prepared for delivery in the Committee on Ways and Means.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

What do federal prisoners, Japanese citizens, and illegal immigrants have in common? They all received millions of tax dollars in stimulus checks from the American Rescue Plan.

And what did the American people get in exchange for that $2 trillion boondoggle that spent less than 9 percent of its funds actually on COVID? Consumer prices have gone up at the fastest rate in 40 years. Prices have spiked 13.7 percent since President Biden took office. Last month’s 8.3 percent inflation rate means families are giving up one month’s salary a year to deal with Washington’s inflation crisis. Families will spend over $8,000 extra this next year just to keep up.

Help Wanted signs are plastered in store fronts all over America because the so-called Rescue Plan spent $400 billion to pay workers to stay at home. And now the law has pushed the country into a recession.

Adding insult to all of that injury, is the rampant waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars that has occurred and continues to occur under the American Rescue Plan. In the rush to pass the bill last year, common sense measures offered by Republicans to put safeguards in place to avoid such waste and abuse were rejected.

Instead, Congressional Democrats and President Biden spent $500 billion on state and local bailouts that left behind a massive trail of waste and abuse. At the Budget Committee, we have been documenting this waste for 65 straight weeks. $140 million for a luxury hotel in Florida, $7 million for horse racing in Arizona, $5 million for a moonshine walking trail in North Carolina, $4 million to build beach bathrooms and a parking lot in South Carolina, and the list goes on.

But what we are here discussing today – and what my resolution seeks answers on – are the hundreds of millions in stimulus checks that the Biden Administration sent to prisoners like the Boston marathon bomber, foreigners like those Japanese citizens living in Japan who were shocked when checks from the U.S. Treasury started showing up at their house, illegal immigrants, and even deceased individuals. To date, oversight efforts have uncovered that:

  • $783 million in stimulus checks were sent to over half a million federal prisoners.
  • $1,400 checks were sent to thousands of Japanese citizens living in Japan. In fact, to this day, the U.S. embassy in Japan still has a link on its website directing Japanese citizens on how to return those checks to the IRS.
  • Up to $4.38 billion in checks were sent to illegal immigrants.
  • $13 million in checks were sent to people without verifying whether they were still alive.
This is not an accounting error. This is a failure of government. The American people deserve a full and honest review of where their money went and what attempts – if any – the Biden Administration has made to recoup or at least account for this waste of taxpayer dollars.

So far, the Biden Administration has stonewalled and ignored oversight requests. As the Ranking Member of the Budget Committee, I have sent the Biden Administration numerous letters on the American Rescue Plan alone. Neither Secretary Yellen or “Rescue Czar” Gene Sperling have bothered to answer or appear before our Committee.

This resolution of inquiry requires the Treasury Department to provide documents, records, and correspondence, directly to the House, about the number of stimulus checks and dollar amounts from the American Rescue Plan that went to convicted criminals, foreign citizens, illegal immigrants, and the dead.

It’s clear that the Biden Administration has no interest in pursuing answers to these basic questions. That is why this Committee must do our job and force the White House to do theirs. I urge my colleagues to support this measure of accountability on behalf of the American taxpayer and report this resolution favorably.

I yield back.