During the hearing, Senator Collins discussed the need to combat unemployment fraud & to expand the H-2B visa program
Washington, D.C. — This morning, U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Labor Committee, questioned Mayor Marty Walsh at a confirmation hearing to examine his nomination for Secretary of Labor.
During the hearing, Senator Collins discussed the large-scale unemployment compensation fraud that began targeting systems across the country last spring. These criminal enterprises are ruthlessly exploiting gaps in systems in states all over the country. Last year, Senator Collins wrote to the Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General (DOL OIG) requesting information on the efforts being taken to combat these fraudulent schemes.
“At the height of the pandemic, the State of Maine had to cancel more than 100,000 initial claims and weekly certifications that were determined to be fraudulent. This slows the system for Mainers who legitimately need the additional unemployment compensation to get by,” said Senator Collins. “Do you support federal funding to help states upgrade their systems? Because part of the problem is that we have these legacy systems that simply cannot handle increased volumes, that are slow to adjust for changing results, and that cannot easily catch fraud.”
“Not only do I support the federal government helping, it's a necessary step. First of all, the money that goes to unemployed workers is taxpayers’ dollars, so we need to make sure that every single dollar gets to an unemployed worker because we're helping them,” said Mayor Walsh. “The unemployment system needs to be brought into the 21st century as far as technology.”
Senator Collins also highlighted how the H-2B visa program is vital in supporting jobs and businesses in Maine’s tourism industry. Businesses in Maine that have needed seasonal workers for years—because they cannot find workers at home to do a temporary job—have been locked out by the current visa lottery system. In many cases, this limits the work that a business can do and forces them to reduce hours or make other cutbacks. Senator Collins has continuously worked to increase the number of H-2B visas to provide relief to small businesses struggling to fill seasonal job openings in the current tight labor market.
Mr. Walsh is currently serving his second term as Mayor of Boston.