Fact Check: Is There Over $1 Trillion in Unspent COVID-19 Relief Funds?

Headline Roundup July 27th, 2021

Reports from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget's (CRFB) Covid Money Tracker say that over $1 trillion of federal COVID-19 pandemic relief funds have not yet been spent. Republican lawmakers, conservatives and some media outlets have closely tracked unspent funds over the course of the pandemic as the U.S. government has passed multiple trillion-dollar relief packages.

Limited coverage of the $1 trillion claim has differed significantly along partisan lines. In February, Politifact (Lean Left bias) described the notion as a "top Republican talking point" and as "oversimplifying the status of the funds," and pointed to a Jan. 27 CRFB blog post that said some of the relief money "is already allocated or scheduled to be spent, and a small portion will never be spent." A Fox Business (Lean Right) report published Monday framed the GAO report in the context of current Democratic-led efforts to advance $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation legislation, and mentioned that the government's 2021 deficit to date is roughly $2.2 trillion. Other outlets, such as the Wall Street Journal (Center), reported as early as last August on billions of unspent COVID-19 relief dollars.

From the Left

PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 23, 2021: House Democrats are forging ahead with a vote on a $1.9 trillion package to address the coronavirus and fix the economic damage that cost about 10 million people their jobs. Rep. Steve Scalise, second in command of the House Republicans, said that he and his colleagues support spending more to overcome the pandemic, but that the Democratic plan is chock full of unneeded giveaways.

"There's over a trillion dollars of money unspent from previous relief bills that were bipartisan," Scalise, R-La., said Feb. 21 on ABC’s This Week....

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From the Center

The nation is concurrently responding to, and recovering from, the COVID-19 pandemic, as the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have declined in recent months. Among the factors that have contributed to the decline in these metrics, the development and administration of multiple vaccines across the nation have been key. About 53.1 percent of the U.S. population 12 years and older—almost 150.7 million individuals—had been fully vaccinated as of June 23, 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Continuing to deliver “shots in arms” will be...

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From the Right

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that more than $1 trillion in federal coronavirus funds have not been spent, a new report shows.

The report comes less than two weeks after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the Budget Committee had reached an agreement to allot $3.5 trillion for a spending package that would complete President Biden’s infrastructure plan. 

"Despite over $1 trillion in unspent federal funds sitting in accounts, Democrats are focused instead on how they can spend trillions more by reaching back into taxpayers’ pockets or adding more to the nation’s debt," House Budget Committee Republican Leader...

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