Mnuchin says he will talk to lawmakers about PPP disclosure
U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin announces new sanctions against Iran in the Brady press conference room of the White House in Washington, January 10, 2020.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said on Monday he would speak with the Senate and others on a “bipartisan basis” about finding a balance between protecting the privacy of small business loan recipients and ensuring proper oversight of small business loans. funds.
Mnuchin said in a tweet that he would have discussions with the Senate Small Business Committee and others “to find the appropriate balance for proper oversight” of Paycheck Protection Program loans “and appropriate protection. small business information “.
Mnuchin angered Democrats last week when he said in testimony to the Senate Small Business Committee that the administration could not release the names of those who took out loans to help small businesses stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. Mnuchin said the names and amounts of particular loans were “confidential,” citing confidentiality concerns.
Senatorial Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the decision to keep this information confidential “only serves to raise further suspicion about how the funds are distributed and who actually benefits.”
Representative Katie Porter and Senator Kamala Harris, both Democrats, wrote to Mnuchin and Small Business Administration chief Jovita Carranza on Friday to urge disclosure. Porter and Harris called on the two agencies to “respond to all outstanding FOIA requests” for information on PPP loans, citing “the unprecedented size and nature of PPP” and “many examples of fraud and abuse that have already surfaced. “
As of Friday, the PPP had backed 4.5 million loans for a total loan value of $ 512 billion, with about $ 130 billion to spend.
There has been a point of contention as to whether these loans have gone to the companies that need them most. The program has been the subject of several rounds of advice adjusting loan stipulations after it was disclosed that some state-owned companies, including owners of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Shake Shack, were among the beneficiaries. They, along with other state-owned enterprises, repaid loans following public outcry.
In a push in April to inject an additional $ 310 billion into the program, Democrats sought more assurances that those funds would go to small businesses and minority groups. The deal reached between Republicans and Democrats allocated $ 60 billion of this amount to rural and minority groups.
On Monday, Sen Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, tweeted that the committee would target the disparity in the impact of the financial crisis on minority businesses in the next phase of the program.