U.S. Democratic lawmakers, in letters to the chief executives of several large banks, demanded the release of documents related to loans made under the government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), CNBC reported.
In response to reports that the PPP favored large corporations over small businesses, a subcommittee on the coronavirus contacted CEOs at JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Santander Bank, Wells Fargo, US Bancorp, Truist, Citibank and PNC to find out if the government’s intent to help small businesses was shirked by the banks, House Majority Whip James Clyburn said.
The PPP, passed as part of the CARES Act in March, established a loan program for businesses hit by the pandemic to be administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). As of last Friday (June 12), it has distributed 4.5 million loans totaling $512 billion, and there’s still another $130 billion that can be spent.
Clyburn and other Democrats wrote that their intent was “to increase transparency so taxpayers can see whether federal funds are being diverted due to waste, fraud, and abuse,” and to make sure that the remaining funds dispersed are used as intended, to go toward small businesses ravaged by the coronavirus.
The push comes in response to statements by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the government didn’t plan to release a full list of the companies that benefited from the PPP. Clyburn and the other Democrats are requesting a full list of the beneficiaries of the loans given out and the amounts.
Mnuchin, in a tweet, vowed to talk with lawmakers of both parties about releasing information, and to utilize “the appropriate balance for proper oversight” on the loans.
The reason Mnuchin initially did not want to release information was “privacy concerns,” CNBC reported. That did not sit well with Democrats, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer saying it was only raising more suspicions as to who the government’s financial aid was actually benefiting. Rep. Katie Porter and Sen. Kamala Harris wrote to Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza requesting correspondence with banks and other documents.
Mnuchin has been optimistic about the PPP so far, saying it has supported payroll for three-quarters of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in 50 states.