President Biden touted Friday's job report, saying there are "more people working in America today than any time in American history." The president spoke before signing bipartisan legislation into law to hold accountable those who defrauded the COVID-19 small business relief programs.
The president delivered remarks from the Blue Room balcony at the White House. He also tested positive again Friday morning for COVID-19.
Employers added 528,000 jobs in July, the Labor Department said in its monthly payroll report released Friday, blowing past the 250,000 jobs forecast by Refinitiv economists. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, edged down to 3.5%, the lowest level since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than two years ago.
"Today there are more people working in America than before the pandemic began," Biden said Friday. "In fact, there are more people working in America than any time in American history."
Biden said one "key driver" in the U.S. economic recovery is "the resurgence of small businesses."
The president, reflecting on small business relief programs enacted at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, said that "too much" of that small business relief funding "ended up in the hands of those who didn't need it or criminal syndicates who outright stole the information."
Biden touted his administration's efforts to hold those individuals accountable, criticizing the Trump administration for not keeping close enough watch and stressing that "the watchdogs are back."
The president said the bipartisan bills he signed into law Friday "will give federal and local prosecutors more time to hold criminals accountable for defrauding the American people during a once-in-a-century pandemic," by extending the statute of limitations on those crimes.
"The American people deserve to know that their taxpayer dollars are being spent as intended," Biden said.
"My message to those cheats out there is this: You can't hide," Biden said. "We’re going to find you. We’re going to make you pay back what you stole and hold you accountable under the law."
The president thanked "members of both parties in the House and Senate for getting these bills to my desk."
The president signed H.R. 7352, the Paycheck Protection Program And Bank Fraud Enforcement Harmonization Act; and H.R. 7334, the COVID-19 EIDL Fraud Statute Of Limitations Act.
The bills will extend the time period that prosecutors have to hold individuals and criminal syndicates accountable to 10 years if they have committed fraud in receipt of PPP or COVID EIDL loans, the White House said, adding that they are "responsive to the president’s prioritization of and calls for oversight and anti-fraud enforcement in relation to critical emergency programs."
"In the president’s State of the Union, he announced that the Department of Justice would name a chief pandemic prosecutor to crack down on fraud in the PPP, EIDL and other COVID-19 pandemic recovery programs," the White House said. "In the State of the Union fact sheet, the White House called for additional penalties for those who commit fraud on COVID benefits and an executive order on identity theft coordinated by the ARP coordinator and OMB.
"On June 14, the individual in that chief COVID prosecutor role told Congress that it was 'essential' that the statute of limitations for PPP and EIDL fraud be extended to 10 years — precisely what these bills do."