The House select subcommittee to conduct oversight of the government’s coronavirus response will prioritize looking into how Paycheck Protection Program loans got into the hands of publicly traded companies, according to chairman Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.
The committee was formed by a resolution last week, and will oversee the use of taxpayer funds in relief efforts. Though it is intended to be bipartisan and include Republican members, its passage got no support from the GOP. The rest of the committee’s 12 members have yet to be announced.
“We are there to ensure the American people maintain confidence in their government. We need that now more than ever in my lifetime,” Clyburn said.
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Clyburn, the House majority whip, laid out his plans for the committee over the weekend in an interview with Columbia, S.C. Outlet The State. He said among the issues he hopes to investigate is how loans intended to help small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic were allocated to larger companies.
© Matt Rourke, AP House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C.
Small business loans: Publicly traded hotel companies not giving back millions of dollars
Companies like Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Potbelly have said they’ll return PPP loans after facing public pressure, but others like a trio of publicly traded hotel companies say they won’t do the same. The $349 billion in loans authorized by the coronavirus relief package was quickly depleted, leaving many smaller businesses without the intended lifeline.
An Associated Press investigation showed that dozens of publicly listed companies collectively received hundreds of millions of dollars of loans from the program.
Congress approved an additional $320 billion last week, with the Small Business Administration continuing to issue loans Monday. The loans can be forgiven by the government if at least 75% of the money goes to keeping employees on the payroll.
Loan program revived: House passes $484 billion coronavirus stimulus for small businesses and hospitals, sends bill to Trump
Clyburn told The State he also wants to look into how states are using money to expand mail-in voting and whether previously bankrupt companies should be restricted from accessing loans. He also hopes to advise health authorities on addressing health disparities among minority populations.
“This committee needs to be up and running soon to inform the Congress as to how to prepare itself for what may be a second outbreak in the fall,” Clyburn said. “If there is a second outbreak in the fall, what is going to happen to our health-care delivery system? Will we have done anything to improve that?”
Clyburn disputed that the formation of the committee was motivated by partisanship. Democrats have been accused of a “political hitjob” against President Donald Trump.
The Democratic whip said the committee would likely still be formed if the president were a Democrat, because “it’s not about who is sitting in the White House. It’s about how this program is being implemented.”
“The committee will root out waste, fraud, abuse,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor last week.
Trump decries investigations: President rails against ‘witch hunts’ after Pelosi announces committee to oversee coronavirus response
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