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tv   Hearing on Federal Government COVID-19 Response  CSPAN  July 31, 2021 2:15pm-4:32pm EDT

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priorities dominating congress, you saw the pandemic takeover early in the year, infrastructure now. there are a lot of big tech projects that have attracted interest. i think that includes the section 230 debate, i think data privacy was something that was hugely thrown in the center of the tech space from 2019 to 2020 initially. those things are off to the side a little bit right now. i think they are important, people are interested, but there is no consensus proposal out there in either chamber that is going to move in anyway. >> the future of the tech industry, today at 6:30 p.m. eastern on the communicators on c-span. c-spanshop.org is c-span's online store. it will support our nonprofit
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operations and you have time to order the congressional directory for members of congress and the biden administration. go to c-spanshop.org. inspectors general from the justice, transportation, and homeland security departments, along with officials from the government accountability office talked about oversight of pandemic really funds and efforts to detect and prevent fraud. they testified before members of the house transportation and infrastructure committee.
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>> there is a safety issue, and with respect to the wearing of masks, we would prefer the uphold the safety of the committee recommended by the attending physician and respectful of all the occupants of the room. with that, the committee will come to order. i ask unanimous consent that the chair asks for a recess. without objection, as a reminder, please keep your microphone muted unless speaking. blah, blah, blah.
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if you make noise, i will shout out at you. to submit a document to the record, please submit it in with that, i would go to my opening statement, which i put somewhere. there we go. today, we will hear about the impact of the government's covid-19 really funding on the transportation sector and its workers who were heavily hit. many transportation workers died , many, many more became ill, but they kept the trains, planes and buses running and the light rail, anything related to transportation, and, obviously, ridership went down, but they provide essential transportation to many, many critical workers
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during that time, and the economy would have been way worse without their incredible sacrifice. today, we are here to look at the government's response and see that these federal funds have been utilized efficiently and effectively. the pandemic has this huge and ongoing impact and progress -- congress took unprecedented steps to deal with that. the federal oversight committee, who will be our first panel, has been tracking this economic aid to see if it has been used appropriately and identify ways it has been used productively. i forgot, i have my mask on while talking. they have worked to identify the
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weaknesses of agencies management during covid-19, cases of fraud, which in this sector are quite rare, not so much in the paycheck reduction program or unemployment programs, but in this, it was rare, relatively rare. our hearing today will examine both of these issues, oversight funds and the impact on the industry stakeholders. there are always going to be individual bad actors attempting to defraud a financial program and take advantage of a crisis, and some programs may have had poor management or ineffective leadership, and that is what we want to hear from from the oversight committee, identify loopholes or how people would have unable to create -- commit fraud, and in some cases, the federal agencies outside of our jurisdiction have not moved
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quickly enough to close these oversights. the gao issued 87 covid-19 related recommendations since the pandemic began and only 16 have been fully implemented. despite these issues, the economic relief was necessary. officials, labor organizations have provided support, congress provided legislation help to slow the spread of the virus, bolstered the economic security and small business. unfortunately, we may never know how successful these efforts were because government agencies failed to track the number of jobs we are saving. i look forward to hearing from our government on how to increase transparency on this front, hopefully retrospectively, but certainly in the future. this will not be our last
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national crisis. who knows what the next one will be. i also look forward to hearing ideas to enhance credibility, for strength of transparency on government expenditures, with the covid-19 really find absolutely critical, and the public-health capacity, highlighting cases of ineffective management, cases of fraud and abuse, and programs help americans. there are several questions i hope will be addressed by the panel, what recommendations do you have to help the governments coordinate response to national public health and response from agencies, particularly the emergency agency, but the department of transportation was ordered under the obama administration to develop an
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emergency response plan to deal with the pandemic. we are still waiting, and, secondly, how can we improve reporting and transparency related to the use of federal disaster assistance funds? how can we learn from the federal oversight committee and the sponsor the pandemic to improve the response to the next national crisis from the standpoint of transportation stakeholders, and what works well in terms of government response, how we can help support transportation workers and critical infrastructure we depend upon to mitigate the impact of future national public health emergencies. thanks to all of you for being here today, and i yield to the ranking member for his opening statement. >> july, mr. chairman. since the beat -- thank you, mr. chairman. since the beginning of the pandemic, we spent $9.9 trillion
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combating covid-19. 1.9 trillion dollars has been authorized by congress just this year. some of this money was legitimately needed to help us recover from a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. with it, we were able to do things like operation warp speed, distribute ppe, senate adequate clinics and provide transportation for essential workers, and i'm glad today's hearing is going to focus on oversight and look at how they have been used or potentially misused. unfortunately, a lot of recent funding has been masqueraded as pandemic relief. for example, the funds for amtrak, and the loads of extraneous projects, and now the majority was to add another $3.5 trillion to its human infrastructure bill, which will be jammed through using the partisan budget reconciliation process. this will be the highest level of funding for any legislative azure in the history of our country. -- legislative measure in the
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history of our country. it will cost $50,000 per u.s. household. we cannot just casually throw around trillion dollar figures like we are playing with monopoly money. we have to consider where these astronomical amounts of money are coming from. unfortunately, the pockets of the taxpayers and future taxpayers who have not been born yet. the effects of this unchecked spending are real, and we are seeing it every day. the price of consumer goods have gone up nearly across the board. gasoline is up 56%. airfares are up 24%. even the cost of chicken wings has increased more than 58%. let's not forget we still do not know how this virus started, despite its high cost. more than 600,000 u.s. lives have been lost, and we are still paying the economic toll of recovery. i look forward to hearing from
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today's panel on how the spending has impacted our economy and jobs, and whether or not congress was as targeted as we ought to have been when spending such large sums of money. with that, mr. chairman, i look forward to hearing from her witnesses, and i appreciate the hearing and i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you for your brevity. i will now turn to our witnesses. we will hear testimony from witnesses from each panel. i would like to welcome witnesses on our first panel, the chair of pandemic response accountability committee, the director of physical infrastructure of the government accountability office, the director of homeland security justice issues, government accountability office, the inspector general of the department of transportation.
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the assistant inspector general for investigations by homeland security, thank you for joining us. a full statement has been included in the record. since your statement has been made a part of the record, we have the committee request that you extract the most relevant points and restrict yourself to five minutes. with that, chairman horowitz, you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and members of the committee. thank you for inviting me to testify at today's important hearing. congress created the pandemic committee to oversee the more than $5 billion in federal pandemic relief spending. i am proud to report on our accomplishments. our can -- we work with the ids to help ensure that taxpayer
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money is used efficiently and to address the pandemic economic needs that congress funded, as well as to prevent fraud and abuse. this takes monumental and a whole government effort. our efforts focus on three pillars, transparency, or needed oversight, and accountability. in order to enable the public to know how it's money is being spent, reestablished a website, pandemic oversight.gov. i hope people will go look at the website. we continually updated with new data stats, spending data and develop features to enhance it as a tool for the public. just this month we updated our data visualizations on the paycheck protection program and for the first time were able to incorporate loan forgiveness data. the website also contains accountability information, including audits and inspection
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reports from federal ids, as well as from what is related to the pandemic. i am pleased to report as a result of the outreach efforts estate and local oversight partners, pandemic oversight.gov includes reports from the state, county and city auditors overseeing pandemic response funds. the website contains over 125 reports so far. these oversight entities involved in employment insurance, use of coronavirus relief fund, contact tracing, and more. with regard to our accountability efforts, they -- we are performing at rigorous oversight for 16 months now. today, these efforts have resulted in the issuance of 250 oversight reports linked to pandemic spending on the government response to the
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pandemic. in addition, the issued a toolkit to assist with oversight efforts and held a series of public forums and programs to inform the public of oversight efforts. just this much, focused on preventing and addressing identity in a pandemic response programs. it seeks to help reduce identity fraud in government programs and recovering from what can be devastating impact from identity fraud. additionally, the community is committed to bringing to justice those that unfortunately seek to defraud pandemic programs. earlier this year, we established a pandemic program focused on ig communities.
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it has resulted in hundreds of arrest today. there will be many more ongoing investigations. we are using all of the tools congress has given us. to prevent and detect. one of the most important tool that is able us to identify -- that is why we are excited about the development of the analytic center. i look forward to talking about this at today's hearing. this will allow the community to conduct data analysis, provide fraud lighting tools and a sharing of data and leading practices that assist in investigations and audits for open source investigative intelligence.
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in the coming months, i look forward to providing even more information about this as we continue to build on the promises of being one of the most important tools in helping combat fraud, waste of use and protect taxpayer money. thank you again for your continuous support of the community. the entire community is committed to advancing accountability for the independent oversight efforts. that concludes my remarks. i am pleased to answer any questions. >> thank you, we've now moved to ms. heather crows, director of issues at the government accountability offices. >> thank you for the opportunity to discuss the work on the federal government's response to and recovery from the covid-19 pandemic. while cases remain significantly lower than the peak of january
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20 21, the recent increases in cases illustrates the risk of known and emerging variant and the associated public health and economic dodges area the cares act and other covid relief laws conclude -- included funding for local, state, tribal and territorial government. fema, dot and the department of treasury undertook additional responsibilities area and, in some cases set up programs to distribute these funds. our testimony today is based on our work examining these efforts and focusing on the status of programs administered by fema, dot and treasury area and, lessons learned to improve the federal response. first, fema, dot and treasury continue to play a crucial role. fema continues to assist local
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and tribal and state governments in the response. this fund, which is generally used following a national disaster has never been used for nationwide public health emergency on the scale required by the pandemic. fema's efforts have included providing individuals for lost wages. in reimbursing safe territories and tribes. such as testing supplies, national guard activities. dot and treasury continue to make available approximately $200 billion for the transportation sector including airports, school bus operator, and track and transit agencies. according to representatives we have spoken with, this assistance has been critical in a period of sharp decline in travel.
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and, enabled recipients to avoid layoffs, maintain service and ramp up. as the federal government's response and recovery efforts continue, we identified additional steps that can be taken to improve this. for example, we found that it is important among a federal response. the pandemic highlighted again the need for national aviation fairness plan to coordinate efforts and ensure safeguards are in place for disease threat from abroad, and providing unnecessary disruptions. we recommend doc work with the federal partners to develop a plan. without such a plan, the u.s. may not be as prepared for
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future communicable disease events. in addition, these efforts to effectively connect in a live data -- collect and analyze data are essential. for example, these challenges collecting and analyzing data such as personal protective equipment based over the federal government. we recommend -- and plan for supply needs, which it has not yet taken a step to address area until fema develops a solution, they continue to face challenges that hamper the effectiveness of their covid-19 response. in closing, the size and soap -- the scott size -- the size and scope demand strong accountability and oversight. it is critical for agencies to improve the government's ongoing effort as well as for future health emergencies. we will monitor the able
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mentation of these programs and our recommendation. this concludes our statement. we look forward to answer your question. >> thank you for your testimony. i will now move on to the inspector general of the dot. >> chairman defazio, ranking member, members of the committee, thank you for inviting me today. as you know, covid-19's impact on the transportation industry has seriously affected jobs, businesses and the lives of most americans. we are committed to the safety and efficiency of our transportation system. agencies have moved quickly to
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release the more than $106 billion that congress provided to dot to help workers, family deal with the pandemic. a large volume of funds makes a critical for internal control to prevent fraud, waste. today, i will focus on the five areas my office has identified to help dot. those are airport print management, surface transportation oversight, contracted grant execution, financial management systems and prevention of fraud, waste and abuse. the faa of the 20 billion dollars received for airports. we have recommended stronger suit -- stronger control.
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and detecting fraud, waste and abuse. to its credit, the faa identified corporate risk levels. faa will also benefit from enforcing existing policy. a focus on controlling costs is critical given the 100% federal chair the cares act provides. second, dot's surface agencies must adapt their oversight to mitigate risk. these agencies received most of the dot covid relief funds. about $83 billion area this also prevents -- also presents operational challenges. much more is received for some programs they oversee.
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while fda quickly allocated these funds, transit agencies may take years to actually spend. time during which the specific recipients and purposes can change. fta much therefore ensure it attracts them over time. fra tastes -- fra faces similar challenges. at the same time, agencies must contend with the pandemics operational, to increase program risk. for example, fta postponed its in person oversight reviews in 2020. but have since resumed them and now have traditional -- have additional covid funding reviews. the third area for dot is better managing contracts.
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this is given the massive influx of covid funds in addition to the already substantial annual funding for contracts and grants. critical for dot to address weaknesses. specifically, dot must foster competition and obtain reasonable pricing for services and programs. two, ensure that contractors can spend funds to achieve desired outcomes. and, three, have deficient numbers to adequately train and supervise personnel. fourth, dot must maintain integrity of the multiple financial management systems. particularly given the recent increase in cyber attacks on federal and private sector information system. it must likewise maintain vigilance as this drastic
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increase could make complaints more difficult. finally, we are increasing outreach to transportation agencies as covid relief funds are susceptible to fraud, waste and abuse. orderly detection and -- early detection will be critical. we are working to inform dot staff about red flag indicators of fraud and how to report that fraud as well as tracking and monitoring the solutions. we are committing to using this to help maximize. we will help and keep the committee apprised. this concludes my prepared statement. i will be happy to answer any questions that you or other members of the committee may have. >> thank you. last, the assistant inspector
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general for investigations and department of homeland security. >> chairman defazio, ranking member grades and members of the committee, thank you for inviting us here today. the cares act provided $3 million in supplemental funding. and $50 billion for covid-19 relief. dhs is strategically initiating the highest impact to help improve programs. since january, 2020, more than 6000 complaints initiated 100 20 investigations related to covid-19. we continue to investigate covid-19 and companies and individuals seeking to exploit dhs programs. a number of open investigations are under review for possible
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criminal prosecutions. since the passage of the cares act, we have been at the forefront to detect and investigate covid-19 fraud perpetrators against dhs and its components. for example, on february 3, 2021 as a result of an investigation we work jointly with the fbi and the u.s. attorney's office, defendant pleaded guilty to wire fraud. from april to may of 2020, the defendant claimed he was in possessions of long -- of large quantity of ppe, including n95 masks. there were contracts for more than $38 million to deliver six
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and a half million mast. the v.a. intended to use ppe to protect patients and employees the facilities. despite the defendant's claims, he failed to find any ppe or n95 masks. on june 16, 2021 the defendant was sentenced to 21 months of incarceration and nearly $349,000 in restitution. in another instance, we lead a task force to identify major facilitator of fraudulent insurance claims. in november of 2020, it was determined the individual and her co-conspirators were involved in facilitating over one half million dollars. on april 8, 20 21, the united states attorney's office for the eighth district of virginia issued an indictment charging
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for defendants with a conspiracy to commit fraud. recognizing the magnitude and potential of the schemes we designated a team of special agents to investigate major unemployment insurance schemes. over the last 10 months, this team has executed 15 search warrants. recovered $3 million. our team continues to open new investigations nationwide that will likely yield high-impact results. in addition, since march, 2020, we've initiated nine new laws. -- nine new audits. including audits of the medical supply chain in fema. we look forward to reporting the results of those audits. earlier this month, we completed an audit there was initiated in 2019.
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to deliver crucial replies and response to the pandemic. did not always take the necessary steps to ensure contractors would deliver the goods and services. between march and may 2020, fema awarded and canceled at least 22 contracts to the national covid-19 pandemic. thank you again, for congress's continued funding of our mission which supports oversight of the department and make programs and operations more efficient. this concludes my testimony. i am happy to answer any questions you or other members of the committee may have. >> thank you for that. i will now proceed to questions for the first panel. i will start with you,
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congratulations on the fraud you identified. obviously part of the problem was the lack of stockpile and preparedness. that the dhs had. as i understand, some of the stockpile was outdated and proved to be otherwise not usable. where we are at now, we are wearing masks again, delta variants, who knows what absalom or foxtrot or whatever the next would be. where are we at with doing a better job of the stockpile -- of using the stockpile so we don't have to go out and prepare for -- and go to unknown vendors and get ripped off? >> thank you for that question.
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as mentioned, we have a number of projects looking at fema's readiness and preparedness. they are ongoing. and i would be happy to take that and make sure we provide specific resource responses. >> i would appreciate that. we are now sourcing the n95's in the united states. which would be greatly preferable. i got involved, there was a gentleman in texas, when 3m abandoned the u.s. to go get cheap labor in china, they abandoned the plant and this gentleman bought it. he wanted to ramp it up. but, it took quite a bit of convincing and controlling -- and controlling to get fema to
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work with him. as opposed to all of the stuff we were trying to fly in from china. so i would like to get an update on that. and, then, i also -- you know, mr. curry, we have covered that -- i had another question here. if you could all just sort of generally give a 32nd -- a 30 seconds, in the areas which you oversee, a 32nd summary of what we can do to make this better in the future. an answer whether or not it requires specific changes in
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authorization or authority by congress. or this is all been internal to the bureaucracies and administrative rules. i know that's a lot to say but give it a try. we start with the first panelist. that would be michael horowitz. >> mr. chairman, just a couple of things. i didn't think -- i did think, to advance transparency, to ensure that all information and data is getting out there about how money has been spent and where it has been spent and to whom the money has gone, we also think additional rules need to be put in place. we have been working with leadership in the air p.m. plantation team. to do that. in terms of additional efforts
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that could be done congressional standpoint or legislative standpoint, i think some of the needs of various programs to ensure they are taking the steps they are legally allowed to take. with regards to, for example, data matching and identity. those agencies can undertake those efforts. to try and address what are pretty substantial concerns. >> i would say there is a mix of things that can be done. of things that can be handled on an ongoing basis. coordinating and identifying defining roles. when you're setting up and executing things. providing clear and consistent communication.
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maintaining thoughts and challenges with the program implementation. the manufacturing jobs, the protection programs. i think again establishing strong accountability mechanisms, as we heard from the panel today, a lot of us continue to look at it. and oversee. >> thank you. >> thank you for your question. the comments of our fellow panel members, to really highlight what we believe is important. from an oversight perspective,
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we continue to allow future work. we continue to learn more things in our work ethic. as well as maintaining collaboration with fema. we currently have a collaborative effort with fema. around mission spatial -- around mission space to protect and understand. that is how we would answer that. >> thank you, my time has expired. i recognize represented of for five minutes. -- representative webster for five minutes. rep. webster: thank you, chair. i have a question, i think of mr. horwitz. that is, do you think there is,
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i don't know if you investigated the fact that the money may have been spent properly. at the right price. but, if the science is flawed, would that have affected something you might ask? was there anything in your reports that would distinguish between right and wrong in that area? >> we would not generally look at trying to assess that kind of a question. hhs, oig, health and human services has done a fair amount of work. i can certainly follow-up with that office to see if there's anything in particular.
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rep. webster: for 60 years, there has been an acceptance of some flawed information. dealing with the size of particles. and are they airborne or are they droplets on the ground. there were literally millions of these bought by everybody and a bunch of dots on the ground. some of them are still out there to keep five or six feet distance between other people. all of that, basically if this disease was carried from air particles will be flawed.
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and he was spent millions, maybe billions of dollars on things they didn't do any good. it has been proven in this report that came out a couple of weeks ago. from an aerosol scientist at virginia tech in one of the people to study infectious disease. in the end, we end up buying that may have been the right price but we just did not need them. i just wondered, i mean that might be just as fraudulent as charging too much for some sanitizer. so, i guess my question would be, is there anything in the future you might be looking at that would also make sure what we are buying is what we need? >> well, i will say,
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congressman, we do look at questions about whether what has been purchased is consistent with what is needed. obviously, over time, this information is learned and issues come up that evolve. it is certainly something we would look at in the context of what has been purchased generally. in terms of the website, that we are trying to put out there so the public can see how the money has been used and where it has been used. much of what we do is get information out to the public so they can assess how that spending has occurred. rep. webster: unfortunately, the bedrock of every medical journal
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and doctors and their training and so forth stress handwashing. which is a good thing to do. it didn't have anything to do with this. and, the distancing, and that the particles, six feet was enough distance and therefore that's ok, that was sort of the basis of all the protection being done, including in this chamber. i remember telling leadership you don't have to be washing the doorknobs, it is in the air. and there were some saying no it is not, it is dried, gets into a droplet and falls to the ground which was totally when at -- totally inaccurate. i just think we spent a lot of money on some things that did not need to be bought. but, my time has run out. i would love to discuss this further but i yelled back.
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>> the chair recognizes congressman norton. >> [indiscernible] >> we can hear you, yes. >> i very much appreciate this hearing as we try to focus on what we have learned for the future. my first question is for the inspector general. the district is amtrak's hub, so i'm particularly interested that congress provided almost $4 billion in supplemental appropriations for amtrak in response to covid-19. earlier this summer, you did an audit report of the federal railroad administration program of oversight of amtrak's use of funding. your report found a range of
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problems at fra and incomplete policies to assess amtrak's adherence to programs, etc. you made several recommendations to fra to improve its oversight. can you describe fra's response to your office's findings and the specific steps it plans to take lou implement -- it plans to implement the recommendations? >> yes, i can. that audit report on fra's oversight of amtrak grant spending recognized in it a likely application and the likely application of those recommendations to the future spending through cares act and other coronavirus relief funds
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that exceed the grant funding that fra typically administers for amtrak. we made several recommendations, which fra has accepted and is in the process of implementing. i believe the target dates are for later in 2021. those include that they create measurable oversight goals and metrics for their oversight of amtrak spending. that they create and develop policies and procedures by which they can track on a comprehensive basis the issues that are identified in their oversight, so that they don't just identify issues and then those remain unaddressed by amtrak. relatedly that they develop a more robust set of procedures to
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identify issues they identify that may need to be escalated to a higher level to work with amtrak to assure compliance with what has been identified in fra's oversight. we believe that if these recommendations are implemented and implemented successfully and executed upon, they will greatly assist fra's oversight of those amtrak supplemental funds in the covid relief legislation. >> i appreciate that you set target dates and these dates are being adhered to. my next question, i'm chair of the subcommittee that just passed the transportation infrastructure bill and the district has metro and is dependent on transport, so i'm particularly interested in the
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billions in grant assistance to help transit agencies that congress provided to manage their fiscal constraints. mr. krause, i would like to ask, how does the federal transit administration perform in managing such a large influx of funds and getting it to transit agencies in a timely manner? >> thank you, congressman norton. this is heather krause responding to your question. fta, we found that they had some initial implementation challenges because of the use of funds was expanded beyond what they typically did. when we've talked to transit agencies, they identified very few challenges they have
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experienced in getting the funds. as it has been implemented and as we get into the newer funds that have come out, there is more challenges at the local level as the figure out how to allocate the funds among different entities at the local level. otherwise, we have heard few challenges in terms of implementation. i know that our colleagues are looking more closely. >> the gentlewoman's time has expired. representative davis for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. my first question would be to mr. horwitz. i want to say thank you for the work that you and your team have done. a wide variety of issues that you and your team and this country has faced over the last few years. i do want to raise an issue that falls outside the realm of transportation and infrastructure, though.
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you raised it in your testimony and that is because it affects many of my constituents, including me, and it is the issue of unemployment insurance fraud. does your committee have data on how many individuals were victims of identity theft during the pandemic as it relates to attempts to defraud the unemployment insurance system? how much money has the federal government been defrauded? >> congressman, we have worked closely with the ig at the labor department on these issues and the department of labor oig has done a lot of work in this space and it has made some estimates that the amount of fraud could be upwards of 10% at this point, but it is still unknown, i should emphasize, as we are investigating and looking at these issues.
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one of the significant issues is that identity theft and the number of people that we have heard from who have expressed concerns about having their identities stolen, there are two problems that arise from that. one is the program itself gets defrauded. separately, you have the victim whose identity is being used who has to deal with the fallout from their credit, other issues, security clearances perhaps, if you are an employee in a sensitive position, and a number of challenges arise as a result of that. that is why we set up the identity fraud working group to try to tackle that problem. >> thank you. as i mentioned, i was a victim myself in my home state of illinois and after going through that ordeal, we tried to make sure that all of our constituents who were affected new the right steps to take to protect themselves and protect
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their families and their own identity. with that being said, sir, do you have any policy recommendations that you could layout that might make any final report or recommendation? >> we have, as a community, put out some. the labor department ig and the sb ig have issued reports on that and we would be happy to send them to you. much of it focused on what the agencies can do to both to both detect potential identity theft before it occurs, so stop it in its tracks, and then also when it does occur, try to help victims of identity theft address those problems. for example, some of these or may be obvious steps, but steps that the sba oig has recommended with regard to the economic
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injury disaster relief program. the importance of maintaining and tracking identity theft. processing information about identity theft and helping to restore identity theft victims to their conditions prior to the fraud, including stopping loan billing statements, preventing delinquency collections. common sense steps that are not necessarily get done -- yet being done and the ig at the labor department has made recommendations they are following up on. >> thank you. we tried to address the issue of unemployment in our initial funding given to state, like my home state of illinois got $40 million, over $40 million to
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implement a pandemic unemployment insurance system to avoid some of these issues. is there any work being done at the doj to investigate where those administrative fees might have gone and what states could have done better to address identity theft on the front end since they got that administrative money before the pandemic unemployment insurance system was in place? >> that is an excellent question and an important question. i would have to follow up with the department on what they may be doing investigative in that regard, but i do know from working with and speaking with the labor department ig and with our meetings we have had ongoing with omb leadership, that this is an important area that the labor department ig has been following up on and taking steps to look to address within the ui program and that we have been
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raising consistently at the back level and are going to continue to try to move forward on to have steps taken. >> representatives time is expired. now we will recognize myself for five minutes. my first question is for ms. crouse at the gao. since 2015, a call for a national aviation preparedness plan, following a recommendation from 2015, we learned some lessons over the last year and you mentioned it in your testimony and report. could you elaborate on the gao recommendation for such a plan and any new issues that ought to be addressed since your recommendation was released? >> thank you. we continue to advocate that this is something important that
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d.o.t. needs to follow through on. i think given how the pandemic rolled out at the beginning, i think it would have benefited by having a national aviation preparedness plan for clearly outlined roles and responsibilities, as well as airlines and airports have individual plans that can feed into a national plan, so we are better prepared. >> a note for mr. curry, the joint testimony states the department of transportation maintains that the hhs and homeland security effort to develop a preparedness plan. are those agencies in a position to work with d.o.t. in developing a plan? >> it is a good question, those agencies are definitely more broadly responsible for national strategies, so they should include those types of agencies and work with them. i totally agree that in the space of the aviation environment, the department of transportation would be the one expected to take the lead on something like that, working
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with their industry. the dhs and hhs should have too much to do across to focus on every single industry. >> i think we saw upon the announcement that u.s. citizens had to get very few days to do that in february or march, clearly dhs has a role, as americans flooded immigration turnstiles throughout the country. with the apparent conflict of agencies saying it is not our job, it is their job, is there a different agency that the national security council needs to get heads together to make this happen? how do we get past the gridlock of finger-pointing and bureaucracy? >> i can take that.
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absolutely. what we have been recommending for years and what is being done right now is there has been a national defense strategy well before the pandemic that is supposed to work across the entire federal government and the aviation pandemic plan would just be a piece of that within the industry. it is pretty well spelled out who is responsible at the highest level. hhs and dhs have that broad authority to develop the strategy. as i mentioned, i totally agree that the department of transportation would have the lead working with her particular industry. >> thank you very much and a reminder to members, i have a bill to direct d.o.t. to direct the plan and would welcome cosponsors. continuing on, i think it is page 17 of your testimony, if you could quickly address the aviation manufacturing jobs protection program, which we approved in the american rescue
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plan. it has been set up, first round of applications have been processed. the application process has been reopened. have you started to look at d.o.t.'s rollout of the application process or will you wait a certain amount of time before you take a look at the gao look at the rollout of the plan? >> yes, we have already begun work on that and meeting with d.o.t. and understanding how they are implementing the program, as well as talking to some of the industry associations to get a sense as to how the implementation has been going. initial conversations, they feel like the communication has been good from d.o.t. with that program. obviously, we will be following closely and expect a report out on the status of that implementation later this fall and october. >> one of your points in your report is that a lot of these programs were rolled out through existing mechanisms in the
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agencies. this was one program that sort of had to be created from whole cloth. is that one of the things you are looking at to compare and contrast those activities? >> yes, certainly what we have found as we look at all the different transportation programs, whether a treasury or d.o.t., is that if they are going through existing programs, that has helped facilitate information -- implementation. but when you are setting up new programs with entities you don't have that relationship with an agency like d.o.t. or get the type of funding typically, it is taking some time to get the programs stood up, the guidelines out there, and then obviously some mechanisms on the backend to track the funds. >> that's great, thanks. my time is expired. appreciate the answers from both of you very much. now i recognize representative from kentucky for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman. >> could you turn your volume
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and we will try on iran to increase your volume, as well. >> can you hear me? >> a little better. >> i would like to ask unanimous consent to submit to the record two articles from npr. the first one is from august 5 entitled foreign workers living overseas mistakenly receive $1200 u.s. stimulus checks. the second article is irs says its own error sent to $1200 stimulus checks to non-americans overseas. >> without objection. >> mr. horowitz, i want to focus on the stimulus checks that were sent overseas to folks that were not american citizens. these articles were from last year. but disturbingly, not only were the $1200 checks that i'm aware of the situation, or somebody who has not even worked in the
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united states since the 1970's received not just the $1200 check, but the $600 check on the $1400 check. this individual does not file a u.s. tax return and so there was no way to know whether the individual even met the constraints or requirements on income to receive these checks. can you tell me what the ig's office has done to investigate these? >> yes, congressman. so, last year, for example, the tax ig, it oversees the irs, issued a report outlining a series of problems with payments by the agency of stimulus checks the gao reported on that, as well last year. it outlined some of the matching
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that failed to occur at the irs and was sending out the stimulus checks. i would have to follow up the tax ig about what ongoing work they may have done with regard to the subsequent checks that have been sent out. i'm not familiar as i sit here today with the ongoing work and i believe gao may have some follow-up work as well with this. >> ok, if you could send those to my office, i would appreciate it as it comes out in real time. i'm afraid, since all three checks went to the particular person that i'm aware of and that this person does not file a u.s. tax return, this person worked in the united states in the late 1960's and early 1970's, and for that reason is somehow in the database. this person did not file a u.s. tax return, this person does not have a green card, this person is not a u.s. citizen or a dual
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citizen of the united states, and i would hope that we have the measures in place to keep this money from going to these individuals, or maybe congress needs to acknowledge that they wrote a law that sends money overseas to people who are not citizens. one of two things is true. we are either sending money to people who don't qualify on the income level, people who don't file tax returns, people who don't work in the united states, people who don't live in the united states -- that is together thing, these checks are going to foreign addresses. i would hope that would be a trigger to do a check to see if this person is a citizen if we are sending it to a foreign address. maybe we should check to see if they filed a tax return. i know u.s. citizens who did not get checks, some still have not gotten their checks, who are u.s. citizens and it had something to do with their tax
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return, yet this did not keep people who are foreign nationals from getting these checks who don't file tax returns, haven't filed tax returns in at least 40 years. so, i hope we will keep a check on that. i don't want to take anymore of your time and i appreciate you looking into it. i will yield back the balance of my time. thank you. >> thank you. >> representative napolitano. >> thank you, mr. chair. i want to follow up on representative norton's question about the transportation agencies. you mentioned progress, can you expand on that? >> what i was getting at is more the time that it takes at the local level to determine how to distribute the funds when you are at the urbanized area and the funds are down at that level.
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there are some discussions at the local level as to how to dedicate those funds to the different and often multiple providers at the local level. that is what is playing out in terms of some of the transit funding now. >> are there any other problems in that? >> as i said before, i think when we have talked to transit agencies, largely the implementation was found to have few challenges from fta. >> thank you. ms. krause mentioned you would be able to expand -- can you please explain your work and findings? >> absolutely, congresswoman napolitano. we have two audits planned on federal transit administration relief funding oversight. it is sort of a two phased audit. one of which will be the design of the fta's control for
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requirements and oversight risks during the awarding and lifecycle of the grants that they are providing to transit agencies. the second phase will be a look at the implementation of their control. in the relief funding management challenges report that we identified for the department of transportation last year, we also recognized several of the other oversight challenges and the challenges that transit agencies will face with these funds. one is that there is an interesting hybrid here of providing funds through an existing program, but providing them for new purposes in terms of the operating expenses and the 100% federal share of those operating expenses. we look forward in our work to
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examining how the oversight, how the expenditures work, given that new purpose within an existing program. the other challenge we highlight is monitoring funding and fta's past reliance in many cases on either self certification by transit agencies of their compliance with eligibility and funding conditions, as well as the reliance on oversight contractors, oversight support personnel who can be contractors, who of course are a valuable and important resource. as it has with hurricane relief funding in the past, with the funding a decade ago. ensuring that those support personnel are properly trained,
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that they are familiar with the federal oversight restrictions, and that they have methods to ensure that attention is brought to the recommendations and issues they identify will be critical. >> [indiscernible] indicated that they were having problems securing -- [indiscernible] can you tell me why? >> i'm not familiar with the details of that issue of securing ppe. i'm not sure if we have done work in that area. my staff and i would be happy to follow up with you about that question and work with the department to try to get you a specific and accurate response. >> thank you, very much. i think it would be important to find out why the distribution was held up to the states and filter down to the counties. it made a great problem for my transit agencies, especially the
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little ones, to. thank you very much. mr. chair, i yield back. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i did want to touch on the issue of commercial aircraft and the mask wearing issue with covid and i want to address this. last month, we had 27 of us sent a letter to tsa and cdc about their decision to renew the mandate through september 13, at least, not even sure whether they are going to review the length of time. we asked them to review the policy and remove or modify for passengers on commercial aircraft. what we are hearing are reports of 75% of the unruly passengers reports this euro because of the mask situation.
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i think we have all seen the videos of people getting pretty roughed up if their two-year-old does not have the mask on or if it is not on the right way and and this is on the plane were people are not a week theirs correctly. we know that the aircraft themselves have extremely efficient filters that do a good job of circulating the air through the aircraft. cleaning it. the situation as such that people are getting extremely frustrated and we are asking tsa and cdc to look at this sooner, rather than after the complete summer season is over with. what was the consideration for the social effects for people that are on passenger planes and the interactions with passengers and flight personnel on the aircraft? has it been considered by dot at
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all are you aware of? >> well, representative, first let me express that we take extremely seriously the issue of unruly passengers on aircraft and the potential impact on aviation safety. our criminal jurisdiction here overlaps with the fbi and it is important to note that the faa has instituted a zero-tolerance policy and can pursue civil penalties, including increasingly more significant fines for unruly passengers, as they work to keep the onboard environment safe. we haven't done any work at this time in looking at the mask policies, specifically. as you know, it is an evolving public health environment. we saw the new cdc guidance and
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omb guidance, as well as that from i understand the congressional doctors over the last few days regarding masking in non-aviation environments. i do appreciate your highlighting, however, the efficiency of the filters on commercial aircraft. i think it is of course important for members of the traveling public to recognize all of the safety measures that are in place to keep commercial aviation safe. >> it is exciting to hear about the zero-tolerance policy, but i'm talking about real people that are trying to travel here. if they do have kids, if they do have people with special needs, it seems there are some really overzealous enforcement going on. for the flight personnel themselves, i hear the browbeating by people announcing as the flight is going on --
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it's becoming an atmosphere that is not pleasant for something that has been on the wane for the mask mandates and i see we are going back and forth on mask mandates in this very body here. a lot of politics being played around it, as you might be hearing, on one side of the building, in the house, and in the senate, -- we need to take a look at how this is affecting the morale of passengers. people with special needs and small children and jessica general attitude -- it's not helping to be these hard-core enforcers on this. is that something you are seeing an issue? mr. soskin: again, we have not
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engaged in any work specifically with the mask mandates or its effects. it is an area of overlapping responsibility among dot and tsa as well as the fbi for enforcement, and i think my staff would be happy to answer that question. rep. lum alpha: i think you for your time, mr. chairman. i yelled back. >> i would like -- if you notice the background is in my office, the washington nationals are playing a baseball game. four of their players are in covid restrictions, aid of their personnel on covid restrictions, i think masques is a good idea, especially on airplanes and public gatherings in small
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spaces. i want to thank chairman defazio for holding this hearing. most of the transportation agency was devastated because of covid-19. people are afraid to fly and concerned about flying next to people and even with masques, it's somewhat concerning. some of it is far from perfect and how it is delivered. when issue i have worked on is the disproportionate share of cares act grants awarded to certain smaller, less trafficked airports at the expense of our major commercial hub airports who do most of the work, including memphis, the world's largest cargo airport in the world. these award amounts were based on an award by the senate that produce mastiff -- massive windfalls for smaller ports. as many as 31 airports received grants for four years worth of operating expenses. over and above so they would
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have four years without any money they would otherwise would have received. the wrongheaded formula was changed. they did not receive additional funding from additional, the two subsequent release -- release bills based on the endemic. nevertheless, the amounts awarded were far more than needed warfare. can you tell me why the formula was written this way in the first place and what your office is doing to monitor smaller airports and their use of that money to see to it it is properly spent? mr. soskin: one of the trade-off
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is between doing something new and something unfamiliar and making use of existing mechanisms and existing formulas. in this case, i think it is instructive, the responsive approach taken by the faa to identify the multi-years of offering expenses and updated and limited the funding beyond the service point and congress extended that and narrowed the scope. rep. cohen: i know the history and have found it difficult to get through it. why was it written that way in the first place? it was not a formula we had, it was a senate the -- a formula the senate and the faa came up with. why did they do that?
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mr. soskin: that is a question we may look at in the audit of cares act funds. beyond its potential inclusion and ongoing audit work -- rep. cohen: you're not answering the question. i will go to miss krause and hopefully she can answer the question. whether the larger airports are getting enough funding to meet their needs? ms. krause: we have some data but at the highest level, the largest airports, and you are looking across the different funding streams, have expended more funds than the smaller ones. when you looking at the large hub airports, you are seeing about 75% of their funds that they received has not been expended where you see lesser funds -- we can give you more details but when you get to the
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smaller airports, it is a smaller percentage but, in some cases, around 50% or so. i'm happy to give you more details. rep. cohen: they had plenty of funds. they had long dirt runways and a windsock. they did not need all that money and what are they spending it on now? this was horrific. if you could give me your report and let me know what is being done to oversee it and make sure the money is being spent properly. with that, yelled back the balance of my time. >> mr. johnson from south dakota is recognized for five minutes. rep. johnson: my question is for anyone who would want to weigh in and i complement the chair for pulling together this panel. we should all care about the
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federal dollars invested in infrastructure. my preference would be this -- to remind all of us about how inefficient our investment in infrastructure is in this country. environmental abuse commonly runs into the thousands of pages. environmental reviews take five times longer than they do in canada and twice as long as they do in the european union. building subways are expensive but the new york subway construction costs are quadruple what they are for the global average in subway systems. my question for the panel is as you did your analysis of this infrastructure investment during covid, did we get a sense of what the financial cost of compliance for these environmental and historical reviews were? do we have any sense on how they would compare other parts of the world?
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mr. soskin: i can take that question first because i think it's important to understand that at this point, a lot of the funds that have so far been allocated have been on the operating expense front. so we are going to see the reviews and infrastructure awards flow out over years. that is something we have observed in our work on the hurricane sandy relief funding where, in our report earlier this year, we highlighted that although $10 billion in hurricane resilience and recovery funds were awarded shortly after hurricane sandy, even at this point, only $4 billion of those funds have been expended. rep. johnson: as we look forward
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on the next tranche of capital investment that is likely coming, give us some sense of what the financial cost of those environmental and historical reviews would be. mr. soskin: i don't have readily at hand the details of what some of those expenses are. and it totally, i believe the elements of your question are correct. planning and environmental reviews can take longer than in some other countries. i think that is a problem that has been recognized across government and it is something we are happy to follow up on. rep. johnson: maybe for all the panelists, so we can focus on solutions, given your deep expertise as you have done analyses in governmental spending, are there things that can be changed if -- in the
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statutes that could make for more efficient investment? are we getting in the way, and if so, how? ms. krause: as in for structure funding rolls out, being clear in defining what the program is, if there are certain outcomes you are looking for and being clear on what you want the outcomes to be and thinking about how to measure that, up front really important. rep. johnson: thank you very much. i will jump in. -- mr. currie: i will jump in. i do disaster recovery programs
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and we talked about whether it is engineering reviews or whatever it might be, it's been a huge challenge needs infrastructure programs. another thing i want to point out is not just within individual grants or programs, there are 70 different funding streams from different agencies that all of which often have different requirements and time frames. one of the things as i may have to do a review for a fema project and a separate one for hud and a separate one for fta and a separate one for federal highway. i think that something that could be looked at. rep. johnson: that is an excellent tactical suggestion. i would love to have comments and i'm sure we can work in the committee on a bipartisan way to make these investments more efficient. with that, i yelled back. >> the chair now recognizes mr.
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johnson from georgia for five minutes. rep. johnson: thank you to the chairman for holding this meeting and thank you for the witnesses. $5.9 trillion is a significant sum of money. the sum total of relief and job retention measures in the cares act. congress acted decisively during a once in a century pandemic, but our work is far from done. we are obligated to ensure relief aid arrives to the folks who need it most, especially black americans, communities of color, and low income groups. already in poorer health due to being without health care coverage, communities of color were essential workers who disproportionally bore the brunt of sickness, hospitalization and death due to covid 19 and who were exposed throughout the pandemic while enabling us to
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work from home. they are the people who have too often been underserved and un-served the federal government. your office has found fema's management of disaster relief grants and funds to be inadequate. you reported last year that improving fema's management of these grants would be one of dhs's top challenges responding to the covid-19 pandemic. what's the impact of these deficiencies on fema's ability to get his aster relief grants to communities of color and black americans? mr. izzard: thank you for the question, sir. as you rightly stated, we have done a lot of work in this area and we have more work now. one particular audit that was done, and i will say i'm much
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more attuned to our criminal investigative work, but have some visibility on the audit work. one audit done was showing contracts that are granted properly in the right place and at the right time. one was awarded and then canceled and contracts valued at $180 million. we were able to identify that there were deficiencies fema had in not providing guidance and we provided recommendation as well -- rep. johnson: has fema made any improvements in helping the underserved and underrepresented since your report was released? mr. izzard: we do have other projects ongoing now that speak
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to equity. one is we are looking at work that would deal with equity in how things are handled. that is ongoing and we hope to have an answer more specifically in the near future. rep. johnson: at the gao reported on the cares act program for aviation and found small businesses were less likely to receive loans under this program and treasury prioritized applications from large passenger carriers. that said, small businesses are more likely to be led by minorities and women. as a result of treasury's actions, what has been the impact on minority owned small businesses and black owned small businesses from prioritizing the large carriers?
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ms. krause: we did not get into that level of detail as to who was impacted. what we did find with that program and some of the challenges the small businesses faced were some lessons to be learned if there's another similar type of program in the future. having potentially multiple paths or programs to be able to support the diversity of businesses that might be applying for that type of assistance. rep. johnson: what key things do you believe fema needs to do to improve their grant management oversight, especially for the grantees who desperately need these funds, whose livelihoods and families depend on relief aid? mr. izzard: as you say, that is a very important area to look into.
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we remain collaborative with fema to ensure [indiscernible] we will continue our collaboration with them in the hopes they will move in the direction required. >> the chair recognizes mr. niles from texas for five minutes. rep. nels: in your written testimony, it says they department of homeland security, oig issues hundreds of recommendations to improve the integrity, accountability, and performance of the department,
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the department of homeland security. the dhs inspector general is one of nine statutory iag's who are members of the pandemic response accountability committee. we know the cares act provided homeland security almost 46 billion dollars for covid-19 relief, and i believe your department, you have around 3 million of that to conduct oversight of those funds. my question for you is, are you monitoring the resources the biden administration uses on border mission? mr. izzard: we have a number of ongoing projects regarding the border at this time. in fact, our inspector general made a number of trips to the border personally to take a look at the humanitarian crisis
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occurring at the border. as a result of that trip, our office has initiated additional projects. there are projects that are ongoing. i would be happy to get with our staff and provide details of what those projects entail and what they will cover. rep. nehls: how much is the border crisis costing the american people? how much money has dhs used to address the one million people who have been apprehended at our southern border since the start of the year? mr. izzard: that is a great question, and i don't have that information in detail available. i will make sure we get you detailed information. we've done work in that area and i will answer back. rep. nehls: the city in texas
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issued a warning from the spread of covid from infected migrants. just a couple of days ago, there was an undocumented migrant family at a whataburger and they were coughing and sneezing while they were inside this water burger and were not wearing a mask. a citizen contacted the police department and the officer approached them and asked the family what are you doing here and that family said they were released by border patrol because they had covid-19. the family stated a local charity group paid for their room at a local hotel. we know the head doll go county judge, mr. richard cortez, called on federal immigration officials to stop releasing infected migrants into their community. has the department of homeland
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security, has your office examined how many migrants have been released from custody with covid? if so, how many? mr. izzard: we do have a project that looks at those matters. to answer your question, we do have an open project. it is ongoing. we look forward to publishing the report once it is complete. >> you stated earlier you have a collaborative effort with fema -- is fema being deployed to the border? mr. izzard: i am aware there are reports that fema has been represented at the border. that is my understanding. rep. nehls: so you don't know
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what actions have been deployed by fema at the border? is fema spread too thin? will fema be able to respond as hurricane season bears down on the gulf coast? i represent southwest houston, southwest texas and hurricane season is coming. will fema be able to handle that with the responsibility i believe they have at the southern border? mr. izzard: i certainly understand that question and i appreciate it. we will continue to conduct our oversight work to ensure the issues that arise, we will address those. i don't know that we would opine on whether they are spread too thin, but we will address any gaps that do arise.
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rep. nehls: i yelled back. >> missed titus is recognized for five minutes. i believe your microphone is muted. rep. titus: is that better? excuse me. i am addressing this to mr. cur rie. there were several reports alleging orders for supplies were getting redirected. the chairman and i raised
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concerns with the former administrator and it seemed the former president's son-in-law was heavily involved in some of the coordination efforts under fema. one example was in arizona, the phoenix fire chief complaint we've ordered millions of dollars of personal protective equipment that keeps getting hijacked before going to the city of phoenix. i wonder what steps fema is taking to prevent this kind of unpredictability from happening in the future and is there any investigation still going on about that or what can we do to take additional steps to make sure we don't have a bridge to nowhere? mr. currie: thanks for the question. that was one of our recommendations last year early in the pandemic. there's no doubt there was a ton of confusion early on between fema and the state and local governments about who was making decisions where federal supplies
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wound up and where they didn't. we heard lots of stories about supplies showing up they didn't ask for and supplies they asked for never showing up. one of our recommendations was fema needed to get a better handle on communication and coordination with the states on that prioritization. when we made that, they thought we were already doing that, but they have taken a number of steps to improve that end we have heard some improvement but i will say the need for the ppe and supplies is -- has drastically been reduced over the last six months. my concern moving forward as we face another surgeon get into the need for the federal government to begin airlifting and supplying those again that we will face similar challenges moving ahead. rep. titus: that distresses me because las vegas is becoming a hotspot and hospitals are being back up and we need more testing
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to complement the vaccine. i hope all these things we hear about the supply chain are not going to apply to the work yeller doing. most of the people -- the work you are doing. there were a number of schemes we heard about, fraud schemes, theft of public funds, wording of scarce materials, fictitious claims against the government. are you working with state and local law enforcement to go after those people or be sure it doesn't happen in the future or what we can need to put in place to prevent it? mr. currie: a couple of things i will say and then the dhs ig would talk about some of their investigative work. one of the things we saw that create that situation is when there was a run on supplies, fema and dhs were looking around trying to provide -- trying to find anyone to provide that.
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mixed up in that were people looking to defraud the system and never provide the supplies. we found the same thing in 2017 with people promising they could provide a certain amount of meals or water to puerto rico and never could. rep. titus: and there was price gouging, i'm sure. mr. currie: that's not outright fraud, but it is one of the roles of the federal government to make sure that is not going on. how do we get better at contracting? i know mr. izzard has done investigative work on that side also. mr. izzard: we have done and continue to do a lot of investigative work on that front. the amount of fraud is continuing to grow. we have filed additional
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misconduct allegations to that program and we are using an approach, initiating audits that add that -- that address central gaps as well as going after the bad actors who have defrauded the system. it would not be an exaggeration to say that we have seen it across the entire nation and we will continue to find those pockets and areas where there are individuals who have exploited the system and enrich themselves financially. rep. titus: be sure you reach out and let us know we can help anyway with local and state officials working with you. thank you both. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes mr. stoddard for five minutes. rep. stoddard: i would like to
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speak about some of the jaw-dropping scenes we've seen over the past several months were entire classes of individuals have been refused service and the ability to fly because they have a disability. i have a son with down syndrome and i understand the difficulties parents must deal with when traveling with children with disabilities. i will say this loud and clear -- just because someone has a mental or physical disability does not mean they are less of a human or have less of a right to fly than uri. and yet, we have seen this exact situation play out all over the country. -- than you or i. their families have been shamed, embarrassed, and harassed, all because a child may take down their mask unintentionally or someone has such a severe disability that it precludes them from wearing a face
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covering. this type of discrimination is not what america should look like. it is unacceptable and i urge president biden to stop encouraging these types of rigid and inflexible mandates that both put our transportation workers and uncomfortable positions and discriminate against those with disabilities. now, shifting gears, according to your testimony, it is your responsibility to ensure taxpayer money is used effectively and efficiently to address the pandemic related public health needs run -- for the various covid-19 really fills. the last 12 months may account for the largest amount of financial fraud to ever be committed against the united states. we've seen countless stories of algorithms and bots applying for fake insurance, identity theft, misuse of ppp and grants and loans and an array of other
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crimes we have not even heard about yet. mr. horwitz, are you aware the vital program alone has 80 billion dollars in fraud? mr. horowitz: i'm aware of various reports and there are still investigations ongoing. rep. stauber: you are aware of $80 billion worth of fraud? how about the ppp? do you know how much fraud is in there and can you give us an estimate? mr. horowitz: i don't have an estimate. i can get back to you on with the ig has reported on. both of those programs were handled a year ago when -- rep. stauber: if you would get
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back to the committee on what the ppp fraud is i would appreciate it. and i know working with the sba, you can get a good estimate. i hope it concerns you as much as it does me that there are everyday americans who were being denied loans and assistance because the accounts and run dry while at the same time there were criminals collecting. in one example, $20 million for fake small businesses. i understand you are not working to combat crimes, but these crimes against the taxpayer should never have been able to be committed in the first place. thank you for testifying today. before my colleagues on the others of the aisle to pair to pass another 4.5 trillion dollars in spending we cannot afford, we should address this fraud, corruption, and abuse that has already plagued the federal government and hurt everyday americans.
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with my one minute remaining, you mentioned that fema was doing all they could in reference to the supply, getting supplies wherever they could. would you agree bringing back manufacturing to our shores, bringing back pharmaceutical manufacturing to this country, bringing back ppe-making in this country and wringing back critical minerals mining to hold the destiny of this great country into our own hands? would you agree with that? mr. currie: there's no doubt the pandemic exposed we are reliant on foreign products -- rep. stauber: and if we don't learn from that, shame on us,
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correct? mr. currie: yes, sir. that -- >> the chair recognizes misses brownlie for five minutes. >> in general, do you feel like you have enough resources to appropriately oversee the fraud and abuse? >> frankly, several ig's have noted the challenge they have in overseeing the billions of dollars of spending in their agency compared to what they've gotten in terms of additional leads. mr. izzard could speak to
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getting a few million of dollars -- i know some other ig's have raise that concern. we have demonstrated a track record that we return multiples of investments in our efforts because of the wrongdoing we find, the efficiencies we find, so investment in ig's have proven over our 40 year history to be a very good investment. rep. brownlee: if you have anything to add to that? mr. izzard: i agree 100% with mr. horwitz. the department received over $40 billion from the cares act and we received about $3 million for
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oversight work. we have found it challenging and i believe we have been successful in our efforts and certainly leveraging our relationships and partnerships we have, which is a relationship we appreciate. there were tens of aliens of dollars allocated and we have not gotten any supplemental for that. however, we have gotten had to address this. we could certainly do more and we would like to forge ahead and do everything we can to address the challenges that have been brought with it. rep. brownley: i know you are not responsible for homeland
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security priorities around fema, but i was concerned in your response to another question with regards to fema's readiness in terms of extreme weather condition. i think we all have to look ahead and know that is coming. i'm from california and there is no question our fire season has started very early and i anticipate that across the country we are going to continue to experience extreme weather conditions. coupled with that, we don't know if there's going to be another surgeon this pandemic where we will have two call upon fema. i would just like to say that i hope fema is doing the appropriate planning and expressing what their needs may be in order to be ready for any pandemic issues or extreme
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weather conditions experienced across the country. my last question, back to mr. horwitz, on the cares act and other legislation, there was detailed reporting requirements to ensure transparency and accountability. then, going on omb's guidance, we don't need anymore additional information, your office has come back and said, your office recommended omb issued guidance to correct the missing information. i'm wondering if that actually happened? mr. horowitz: that is a very important issue for us.
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initially, after the cares act. basically usa spending.gov would be the tool that you use. we have identified in another report that we issued in november some of the significant problems with that. they are pleased that they issued a revised memo to address some of that. >> the chair recognizes mr. westerman for five minutes. rep. westerman: at the end of that 116th congress, the emergency relief program -- the administration has not requested
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any funds for this program. the u.s. maritime industry estimates it needs 3.5 billion dollars in emergency relief as a result of unanticipated covid cost and anticipates those be provided under the emergency relief program. are you monitoring the maritime resources? mr. soskin: i am not actually familiar with the maritime funding issue you have identified. i happened to consult with my staff and i will follow-up with you on that area. rep. westerman: in talking about some testing on the border, he said testing is happening, covid testing and there is less than a
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6% positive rate on the border. are you aware testing is still happening and if so, have testing rates increased, those positive rates? mr. soskin: i am not familiar with that issue, but i do i think ig izzard might have more about testing on the border. rep. westerman: do you have any more information on that? mr. izzard: i do know that our -- i don't know specifically to answer that question but i will get you a response directly. rep. westerman: i was on the border last weekend in the rio grande valley, and iselle reports on monday that there
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were 671 additional covid positive tests in hidalgo county and i've seen reports that say the covid infection rate is up 900% along the border. one thing i took back from the trip to the border along with many areas was out in mcallen, i noticed in the airport, there were several passengers holding manila envelope set on one side it was rented that said something like please help me, i do not speak or read english, please help me. help me get on the right airplane. on the others of the envelope, it would have flights outlined, departing airports, arriving airports and the times on that.
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can you confirm if those were migrants or just a group of people carrying envelopes through the airport? mr. izzard: i can't confirm. i really don't know. i just don't know the answer to that. rep. westerman: you don't know if dhs is putting migrants on airplanes and shipping them around the country? mr. izzard: i do know we have an open audit that looks at that specific area. it is ongoing, so i can't speak to that at this point but i look forward to providing that language. we do have an audit working in that direction. rep. westerman: you don't know if commercial airlines are being used to move migrants around the country and you would not know if those migrants are being tested for covid or being vaccinated before being moved around the country?
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mr. izzard: i don't know the answer to that. i will make sure to take note of that and take that into consideration for staff. rep. westerman: i would appreciate if you could look at that sooner than later and get an answer back on that issue. madam chair, yelled back. chair davids: the gentleman yields back. the chair recognizes mr. lowenthal for five minutes. rep. lowenthal: i want to spoken on a specific program that means a lot to me that mr. currie and ms. crouse had mentioned in their testimony and if you could just help me with that. that is the coronavirus relief for transportation services or
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what is known as the certs program. as you highlighted, none of the $2 billion provided by congress has been allocated. we know that treasury faced a huge challenge setting up the new program to support industry where the agency has no experience and where there were many small stakeholders. you pointed out that treasury is working to learn from this experience with the payroll support program and other pandemic relief programs to communicate clearly and that is very encouraging. but i want to be clear, the relief congress provided was vital to prevent dislocation and disruption in critical
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infrastructure and no matter what sector we are talking about , prevented job loss in agencies and we all -- it kept them afloat. climate change and many other challenges face this world -- it is much less predictable. we need to get better at responding to unique and unexpected challenges. my question is what can we do to hold our capacity to implement programs like the certs program? ms. krause: thank you for the question. i would say when you have an agency emblem ending a program where they don't work with this applicant pool and it is a big, broad number of applicants
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there, it is really important they work closely with the other federal agencies that may have information or knowledge of those industries. we are in the process of looking at the certs program and we know treasury has reached out to dot and has worked with them to figure out how to determine eligibility for this program because you have a lot of different operators and d.o.t. can look into and see what are the operators and applicants that can check eligibility. as we understand, the application process just closed on july 19. in terms of implement think programs where they are new, it is important to work with the industry and work with federal agencies to better understand how we might effectively implement the program. rep. lowenthal: is that what we
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have learned? if another crisis occurred, what have we learned to expedite the process? ms. krause: i think it is encouraging those agencies to work together upfront, clearly communicating to industries the status of the timelines and what they are doing, those are the types of things they can learn, the timing of when it will roll out. communication is really important in these scenarios. rep. lowenthal: i'm also wondering -- the question can also be answered by -- let me see who that was -- mr. currie, you also mentioned the program. what can we do to build our
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capacity to implement programs in the future when there is a crisis that comes up like the certs program, which is all new? mr. currie: i cover the work on disaster response and recovery and one of the biggest things that we see in the preparedness side is that often, gaps in capability at the local level or different industries have been identified as an assessment. the problem is because the event hasn't happened yet, we often don't take action to address it before it happens and we don't close the gap that we know exists. some of that is just latency, especially with the pandemic, disbelief and thinking it's actually going to happen and that is a key theme. chair davids: the gentleman's time has expired. the chair will recognize mr. guest for five minutes.
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rep. guest: mr. horwitz, within the federal government national disaster recovery framework, the eda says the agency for the support function -- congress has appropriated $1.5 billion for eda economic adjustment assistance program in the cares act and $3 billion in eda funding in the american rescue plan. 25% of that funding is dedicated to addressing employment and growth and travel tourism and outdoor recreation industry. as an agency that received $3.5 billion in fiscal year 20 21 appropriations, how did the pandemic response accountability committee work with the eda to make sure this large appropriation amount that has been distributed during the pandemic is being distributed
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with transparency and reducing waste, fraud, and abuse? mr. horowitz: what we have been doing is working with the ig's who oversee the specific agencies to the programs to coordinate and make sure we've got the right resources and tools to take those steps and do that oversight. i can follow-up with the ig's to see what kind of work they have been doing. rep. guest: in your written testimony, you talked about the task force, the 28 agents assigned to that task force. can you talk about the work the task force is doing? mr. horowitz: one of the things that became clear early on in the work we have been doing from a law enforcement standpoint, and the committee has number of law enforcement agencies, is
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that first of all, several of the programs and several of the ig's were facing extraordinary requests and resource needs to deal with some of the fraud they were dealing with. sba ig, department of labor ig were at the front of that line. in addition, what we found was the fraud was not necessarily isolated to a specific program, but rather was across programs. so we needed to be coordinated with each other to share the learning we were seeing. finally, we needed to make sure what we were doing with that information was interacting with the other parts of the ig community that handles these issues like auditors and making sure we were taking steps to go
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back and try and prevent further fraud and detect further fraud. we were coordinating to do all of this. rep. guest: you also talk about the adoption of the fema policy and how that has contributed efforts to stop large-scale fraud we are seeing in the pandemic response program. can you talk about the effect the policy has had on what your agency is doing? mr. horowitz: i certainly appreciate congress giving us that authority in the cares act last year. we put in place the subpoena authority we had been given and ig's generally have documentary subpoena authority, they almost all don't have testimonial subpoena authority. that would give the ig's the authority and it is pending in the senate and we hope it will pass. we put in place a subpoena
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policy that would allow the draft to assist ig's that need the subpoenas so they can ask recipients of the funds when they have evidence of wrongdoing with a no and help it -- what they know and help advance that. rep. guest: several of the charges that occurred during hurricane harvey and hurricane sandy, as we approach hurricane season in mississippi is one of those states typically in the bullseye of approaching hurricanes, what can congress do to fix some of these ongoing issues as a result of the reimbursement backlogs and delayed process? mr. izzard: thank you for that question. we have a number of projects we
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have done in regards to hurricane harvey and maria. i guess we continue to perform our work, we will continue with the work we have done in the past. we appreciate all the support congress has provided so far. chair davids: the gentlemen's time has expired. the chair recognizes mr. carbajal for five minutes. rep. carbajal: the government accountability office reported some states had difficulty accessing the various federal programs available for ppe and testing supplies route the covid-19 pandemic. my office or directly from local leaders on this issue and many were confused about the reimbursement and cost-sharing responsibilities. in times of crisis, i was
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disappointed and lack of clarity from the federal government and the bureaucratic red tape we had to navigate to get the needed resources in the hands of the american people, including my constituents. what has fema done to remedy this situation so that in future emergencies, medical personnel around the country can get the equipment they need in a timely, efficient manner? mr. currie: i think i mentioned earlier one of our recommendations was to clarify with states and local government how it is providing supplies, when, where, and why. across 50 states, multiple territories, alterable tribes, all of which had disaster declarations, that was messy upfront. i think they have made a lot of progress since then but as i mentioned when ms. titus asked
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about this, the needs have increased significantly -- have decreased significantly over the last six months or so for ppe. if that need was to explode again in the coming months, i would hope what they have done to address some of these issues would fix some of those early problems, but, at this point, i don't know. rep. carbajal: in light of the vote, i have two other questions, but i will submit them for the record. with that, mr. chairman, i yelled back. chair davids: the gentleman yields back. for the information of all members and witnesses, we have a long series of votes on the floor. we're going to go into recess and reconvene and come back to the first panel of witnesses. the committee stands in recess. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
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>> today, on "the communicators" -- technology reporters cost the future -- is because the future of the tech industry. >> if you look at the priorities dominating congress right now, you have seen the pandemic takeover early in the year and infrastructure takeover now. there are a lot of big tech topics that have attracted interest. but start front and center -- that includes the section 230 debate. data privacy was something that was hugely front and center in the tech space in 2019 and 2020 initially. those things are off to the side. people are interested but there's not any consensus or proposal out there in either chamber that's going to move in any imminent ways. >> the future of the tech industry, today at 6:30 eastern
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on c-span. >> sunday night, on "q and a" -- the author of first friends. >> i have been endlessly fascinated by the american president since i was a kid. i started to work on campaigns in the carter administration. this dynamic between the leader's friend and the leader himself and how that test friend could speak in a way no aid or staffer could, speak more bluntly, act more naturally. i thought with warren beatty and the gary hart campaign. they can speak to the candidate in a way no one else would at the time and say, would say stop talking like a politician. he would listen and change the way he spoke.
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i saw how he would relax for late-night conversations and then, i saw the same dynamic play in the bill clinton campaign with vernon jordan and how they were of equal stature and what that allowed. clinton could get from jordan what he couldn't from anyone else in the campaign and administration itself. >> gary ginsberg talks about the political influence wheeled by confidants and close friends of u.s. presidents sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's "q and >> c-spanshop.org is the c-span online sure -- start with a collection of c-span products. your purchase will support our nonprofit operations and you still have time to order the congressional directory, with
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contact information for members of congress and the biden administration. go to c-span shop.org. >> health and human services assistant secretary dr. rachel davino talked about covid-19 vaccination efforts at an event hosted by the washington post. this is about 30 minutes. >> good morning, i am a. senior writer at the washington post. today. we will talk about the troubling rise in cases from the delta variant and vaccination challenges with dr. rachel,, assistant secretary for health at the department of health and human services. dr. levine, of warm welcome to washington post life. -- live. asst. sec. levine: thank you, pleasure to be here. karine: wonderful to have you here when we need to understand so much more. there was a change in guidance this week from cdc res

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