Mar 1, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden says COVID relief "watchdogs have been welcomed back"

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress in the U.S. Capitol's House Chamber

President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Biden announced that his Justice Department will be naming a chief prosecutor for pandemic fraud during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Why it matters: Biden accused the Trump administration of not only growing the deficit through tax cuts "for the very wealthy and corporations," but also undermining watchdogs who ensured pandemic funds weren't wasted.

  • "But in my administration, the watchdogs have been welcomed back," he said. "We’re going after the criminals who stole billions in relief money meant for small businesses and millions of Americans."
  • The announcement received a rare bipartisan standing ovation in the House chamber.

The big picture: Nearly $100 billion in pandemic relief funds had been stolen by criminals as of late December, according to the Secret Service.

  • The Justice Department had already prosecuted more than 150 defendants in over 95 criminal cases related to the Paycheck Protection Program as of mid-December.
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