Watchdog Urges Careful Oversight Over New Coronavirus Relief Funds

Taxpayers Protection Alliance

April 22, 2020

For Immediate Release
April 22, 2020
Contact: Grace Morgan
(202-855-4380)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) urged Congress to maintain close oversight over nearly $500 billion in new spending for small businesses and healthcare facilities. On April 21, the Senate passed compromise legislation including more than $320 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which ran out of its initially allocated $349 billion in funding on April 16. MarketWatch reports that, in addition to the $320 billion for small businesses, the current deal, “provides $100 billion for health care, split between $75 billion for hospitals, including some set aside for rural ones, and $25 billion for coronavirus testing.” The House of Representatives is expected to take up this legislation on April 23.

TPA President David Williams urged caution in disbursing these funds, noting, “at this extraordinarily difficult time, historic amounts of Coronavirus-related relief spending must be properly targeted. Every dollar going to a corporation that doesn’t need or deserve this funding means one dollar less for small businesses that are struggling to cope with the economic fallout of the pandemic. Thus far, Small Business Administration (SBA) rulemaking related to the PPP has been confusing for beleaguered businesses and taxpayers, with reports of large chain businesses receiving millions of dollars each in taxpayer-backed loans. There must be a transparent, consistent process for awarding these loans, instead of the broken status-quo of narrow carveouts and incomprehensible exemptions.”

Williams continued: “Large inconsistencies in rulemaking have resulted in travesties such as large chain hotels and restaurants getting PPP funds while small businesses are denied because of confusing ‘affiliation’ rules that only lawyers and accountants can understand. The awarding of funds shouldn’t vary based on industry and equity backing, but instead be broad-based and geared toward quickly helping the businesses and workers who need it the most. Congress must also press the Trump administration to reinstate the inspector general selected to oversee the CARES Act. Without a dedicated, seasoned watchdog, it’s only a matter of time before more relief money falls into the wrong hands.”

Williams concluded: “Lawmakers deserve praise for finally coming together to offer an extra hand up to hundreds of millions of struggling small businesses. The pandemic and resulting economic calamity haven’t been easy for anybody, and these extraordinary times require short-term assistance to Americans struggling to make ends meet. But this process will fail the most vulnerable families and businesses without a robust, dedicated oversight effort and clear and consistent rules. Lawmakers must continue to push for transparency and accountability in awarding relief funds. For the sake of the entire country, we have to get this right.”

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