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House Republicans demand special session to address continued IDES issues

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - With thousands of people across Illinois still dealing with issues with the Department of Employment Security, House Republicans say Gov. JB Pritzker needs to provide real solutions.

Over 212,000 fraudulent claims have been filed with IDES since March. As previously reported, unemployment cards have gone to people who never applied and some even had their identity stolen.

The Republicans want Pritzker to call a special session for lawmakers to help him with the problem. However, it's highly unlikely they'll return to Springfield until January. Still, they stress constituents haven't stopped calling about issues with IDES.

"The administration cannot continue to blame this fraud on the federal government," said Rep. Mike Murphy (R-Springfield). "It is the administration's responsibility to ensure these dollars are protected for those who need it the most."

Murphy says telling families to monitor their credit reports for potential fraud is a "completely unacceptable abdication" of the governor's responsibility to residents.

Pritzker appointed former Senate President Chief of Staff Kristin Richards to lead IDES in July. Last month, Richards said she feels the department is in much better shape with more staff and a callback-only system to help with wait times. However, residents continue to wait weeks for calls back, and a growing number report credit fraud.

"It's just a number of things that are coming at our constituents at one time," emphasized Rep. Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City). "We've gotta find a way to get this fixed. We've gotta find a way to bring it together. We gotta do better guys, we gotta do better."

Hoping for a solution soon

Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) also said Pritzker has failed to lead on this issue. That's why she feels lawmakers need to step in and create solutions in Springfield.

"Congress is meeting. Other state legislators are meeting," Bryant said. "We met safely in May with nobody contracting COVID-19, so we know it's possible."

The House could have approved changes to its rules to allow virtual hearings like the Senate. Yet, that proposal failed to gather enough support during the special session in May.

Still, the governor stressed Friday that nearly every state continues to struggle with "massive amounts" of fraud, and delays due to the continuous influx of unemployment applications.

"I think it's 47 other states that have reported massive delays by weeks," Pritzker said. "Illinois is maybe in the middle of the pack in terms of its responsiveness to dealing with this."

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Mike Miletich

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