Bipartisan Pair Of Sens. Want More Disclosures On PPP Loans

By Craig Clough
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Law360 (June 3, 2020, 10:47 PM EDT) -- The Republican chairman of the U.S. Senate's small business committee joined with the panel's top Democrat on Wednesday to urge the Trump administration to disclose more details about the companies that receive Paycheck Protection Program loans from the Small Business Administration, saying more transparency is needed.

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ben Cardin, D-Md., sent the letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza, asking for more complete information on the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and Small Business Debt Relief program, which were enacted in the coronavirus relief package.

"Given the grave nature of this crisis and the unprecedented level of funding that has been appropriated, it is critical that the public and Congress have timely and complete information about where these funds are going, and the committee expects an increased level of transparency and accountability from the SBA," the senators wrote.

The senators said the programs have earmarked nearly $730 billion to support small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and provided the SBA with more than $2.7 billion for implementation and oversight.

"This historic financial relief has provided a lifeline for small business owners and saved approximately 50 million jobs from impending layoffs," the senator said.

The senators said the agency on "most days" has provided the committee some information and statistics. But they added, "While this data has been helpful, most of this information is not accessible to the public on SBA's website, and the sporadic nature of this information and lack of detail is insufficient for adequate Congressional oversight."

The senators then requested information they wanted daily, weekly or monthly about demographic breakdowns, state-by-state breakdowns and other statistics.

"In addition to data and relevant metrics, we are also deeply concerned about the ability of small businesses in underserved and rural markets, including veterans, to access the lifeline of paycheck loans," the senators said, while requesting the SBA consider revising eligibility thresholds for community development financial institutions, or CDFIs, and other community lenders. 

"This is particularly important for CDFIs that operate in rural markets and native CDFIs, for which lending on a larger scale is not reasonable or feasible," the senators said.

The letter was sent hours before the Senate approved the House-passed PPP Flexibility Act, which would give employers 24 weeks to spend the money and have the loans forgiven, tripling the current covered period of eight weeks.

--Additional reporting by Andrew Kragie. Editing by Nicole Bleier.

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