Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Saturday ripped the Trump administration’s Small Business Association for failing to provide any information about outgoing funds in the second round of the increasingly controversial Paycheck Protection Program.
The program, part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act to help the economy through the COVID-19 crisis, was touted as an aid to small businesses. But nearly 300 publicly traded corporations grabbed $1 billion in aid before the first round of spending ran out of money last month in just two weeks, shutting out countless small businesses.
Now, during the second round of taxpayer aid, the SBA is refusing to reveal payment information, Rubio said in a video message he posted on Twitter.
“The last 48 hours have been very troubling,” he said. “In the last 48 hours, we have not been able to get anybody at SBA to provide us any information about round two — about how much money is left, about who’s getting it, about the application process. The SBA, for whatever reason, has decided to lock down and not share that information with us,” he added.
Rubio promised to get to the bottom of the program run by a Republican administration and passed by GOP lawmakers, an irony not missed by Twitter critics. Walter Shaub, former head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, also pointed out that Rubio and his fellow GOP senators have “taught Trump” that the president can ignore congressional oversight.
The SBA could not immediately be reached by HuffPost for comment.
Word of the stonewalling comes amid growing public anger about wealthy companies getting funds intended for struggling operations.
Members of the Trump administration have been left to plead with companies to return the funds if they don’t need them. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told the Wall Street Journal Tuesday that not only should companies give back the money, they should also “apologize.”
After news emerged that the wealthy private school Donald Trump’s son Barron attends — St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Maryland — is receiving taxpayer stimulus funds, Mnuchin tweeted that such institutions should also return the money. The elite Los Angeles school where Mnuchin’s children are students is also receiving public funds.
In the short “self-certification” application for the Payment Protection Program loans, applicants merely have to attest that they are not insolvent, and that they are “unable to secure adequate credit accommodations from other banking institutions” — which would seem unlikely for the nearly 300 publicly traded corporations that received money in the first round.
Payment Protection loans are forgiven — essentially turning them into taxpayer grants — if the money is used on certain expenses such as wages and rent.
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