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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Biden officials are working to root out the systematic fraud in unemployment and Paycheck Protection Program claims that plagued the Trump administration’s efforts to boost the economy with coronavirus relief money, Gene Sperling told House committee chairmen privately this week.

Why it matters: President Biden just signed another $1.9 trillion of aid into law, with Sperling tapped to oversee its implementation. And the administration is asking Congress to approve another $2.2 trillion for the first phase of an infrastructure package.

  • Organized efforts to steal the COVID-19 money — or partisan efforts to spin tales of waste — could not only hurt the infrastructure plan but Democrats at the polls in 2022.
  • Congressional Democrats also expect Republicans to repeat the claims of "waste, fraud and abuse" they used against President Obama's 2009 stimulus package.

What we're hearing: Crime syndicates have used data readily available online, as well as information from identity theft, to claim or intercept billions in pandemic unemployment benefits during the past year.

  • With more money headed out the door — including six monthly checks of $250 per child ages 6-17, and $300 for each under 6 starting in July — even more theft is possible.
  • Several of the chairmen on the call — which is held at 8:15 a.m. each Wednesday by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer — said Sperling welcomed their oversight and wanted their help in preventing fraud, Axios was told.
  • Sperling is a veteran Democratic economic aide.

The big picture: Democrats know they risk political scandal if stories of graft dominate the coverage of Biden’s signature legislative package.

  • Sperling explained the White House’s commitment to transparency, both before House committees and various agency inspectors general.
  • The Justice Department also has been aggressive in pursuing pandemic fraud cases.

Rep. John Yarmuth, the Kentucky Democrat who heads the House Budget Committee, said he was a victim himself of COVID-19 relief fraud.

  • He said Sperling was "very focused" on mitigating abuse during the next round of funding.
  • "He basically said that, 'It's on me,'" Yarmouth told Axios.
  • Sperling explained about 40 separate agencies will have some responsibility for implementing the American Rescue Plan.

Go deeper

Elon Musk's mega-billion bounty

Photo: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Here's how insanely rich Elon Musk is: He has unloaded $10 billion of his stock in the past month — and could do that 15+ more times given his silos of shares.

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

Huawei sanctions snarled chip supply chains

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The largely successful U.S. effort to hobble China's Huawei has benefitted a host of other tech companies — from smartphone makers such as Apple and Xiaomi to chipmakers like Qualcomm to network vendors including Nokia and Ericsson.

Yes, but: The massive disruption to the industry furthered an industry wide mismatch between supply and demand, exacerbating the global chip shortage.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

Overturning Roe could strain abortion access even in blue states

The Supreme Court is reflected in a woman's sunglasses during a march Oct. 2. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortions could be harder to access even in states where they remain legal, because those clinics could be flooded with patients from states that have cracked down.

The big picture: This has happened before, and clinics fear the crush of demand would be a major problem in the immediate wake of a decision that would allow states to ban abortion.