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    House Oversight Committee Examines Pandemic Origin Investigations and Fraud Prevention


    On Wednesday, the House Oversight and Accountability Committee held a hearing to explore the importance of pandemic origin investigations as a means of bolstering the country’s pandemic preparedness and biodefense capabilities.[0] Led by Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), the hearing focused on the need for greater oversight in the federal response to pandemic relief fraud, including in small business loan programs.

    Chairman Rep. James Comer (R-KY) opened the hearing calling the pandemic “the biggest fleecing of America in American history.”[1] He promised “many more of these hearings” to come, and pledged that Republicans would “get to the bottom of the greatest theft of American taxpayer dollars in history.”[2]

    The hearing comes as federal watchdogs plead for lawmakers to grant them new resources to help them find and prosecute fraud targeting pandemic funds, and as the Labor Department believes a larger share of unemployment insurance benefits were improperly paid than its previous calculations — 21.5 percent versus 18.7 percent of the total last year.[3] This translates to approximately $191 billion that may have been misspent, according to DOL Inspector General Larry D. Turner.[4]

    At the hearing, Rep. Griffith argued for more governmental mechanisms to identify the origin of any highly contagious virus as well as plans on how to handle investigations. He also warned that the threat of similar pandemics is increasing and “globalization, climate change, and urbanization has increased the probability, intensity, and frequency of catastrophic biological incidents.”[5]

    The White House responded to the hearing, calling the Republicans’ efforts “political stunts” and noting that “House Republicans are holding political stunts that reveal their own hypocrisy and failed past policies.”[6] Despite the criticism, Rep. Griffith vowed that the committee would “continue to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic since we have jurisdiction over public health and federal biomedical research.”[0]

    In conclusion, the hearing highlights the need for increased federal oversight, resources, and legislative fixes to pursue pandemic-related crimes, and to find the origin of the COVID-19 virus as well as prepare for similar pandemics in the future.[0]

    0. “Griffith leads COVID-19 origin effort | News |” Bluefield Daily Telegraph, 4 Feb. 2023,

    1. “GOP Oversight chairman sounds alarm over ‘massive amounts' of COVID ‘theft' as reports say billions missing” Yahoo Life, 1 Feb. 2023,

    2. “Federal official warns $191 billion in covid unemployment aid may have been misspent” The Washington Post, 8 Feb. 2023,

    3. “Estimate of misspent Covid unemployment payments leaps to $191B” Yahoo Entertainment, 8 Feb. 2023,

    4. “Federal official warns $191 billion in COVID unemployment aid may have been misspent” Stars and Stripes, 8 Feb. 2023,

    5. “House Committee on Energy and Commerce” Energy and Commerce Committee, 3 Feb. 2023,

    6. “House Republicans kick off fraud investigation into billions in COVID pandemic relief money” ABC News, 1 Feb. 2023,

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