WASHINGTON, D.C. – Republican members of Congress are insisting that the Administration of President Joe Biden review New York’s plan to distribute $2 billion in unemployment benefits to undocumented immigrants and convicted felons financially impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO), of the House Budget Committee, and Rep. James Comer (R-KY), of the House Oversight Committee, have sent a letter to Gene Sperling – President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Coordinator, picked to oversee spending from the $1.9 trillion relief package signed into law on March 11 – calling on him to investigate the “Excluded Workers Fund” that New York Democrats are currently attempting have signed into law.
The Excluded Workers Fund would provide $2.1 billion in payments for those that are eligible for the program, such as illegal immigrants and ex-inmates who have not yet developed the work history since their release needed to qualify for traditional unemployment benefits at the start of the pandemic.
Under the distribution model that New York lawmakers are currently using – which would provide retroactive unemployment benefits to individuals dating back from March 2020 – some recipients could receive lump sum payments of over $27,000, a situation that Reps. Smith and Comer said that they find unacceptable.
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“Given the questions raised by the actions of the State of New York, we sincerely hope you will use your position to protect the integrity of American taxpayer dollars and put American families first,” they said in their letter to Sperling.
Comer and Smith also claimed that New York is among several Democratically-led states that have received extra funding in the American Rescue Plan when compared to previous pandemic stimulus packages, explaining how they can afford to fund the Excluded Workers Fund.
“The $1.9 trillion spending plan enacted last month allocated monetary relief to states using a new biased formula that resulted in New York, and other states run by Democrat officials, receiving disproportionately more aid than in previous coronavirus relief bills,” they said. “Coincidentally, the amount of additional federal dollars New York appears to be receiving because of the change in the funding distribution formula is exactly the same as this new fund for illegal immigrants – $2.1 billion.”
Other members of the GOP have criticized the Excluded Workers Fund as well, including Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), who tweeted on Thursday that this bill epitomizes the reasons for New York’s high cost of living.
“Why are taxes high in New York? So the government can pay illegal immigrants up to $15,600. In New York, it pays to break the law,” he said.