Schumer demands GOP convene hearings on coronavirus testing, small business program

Schumer demands GOP convene hearings on coronavirus testing, small business program
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Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPoll: Majority of voters say more police are needed amid rise in crime America's middle class is getting hooked on government cash — and Democrats aren't done yet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate finalizes .2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill MORE (D-N.Y.) said on Monday that Republicans should "immediately" start oversight of the government's coronavirus response and related legislation, including holding public hearings. 

“Now that Leader McConnell has decided the Senate will reconvene next week, he should instruct his Committee Chairs to immediately begin vigorous and desperately needed oversight of the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its implementation of the CARES Act," Schumer said in a statement. 

The Senate's oversight, according to Schumer, should include hearings on the lag in widespread coronavirus testing and the Paycheck Protection Program, which was meant to provide loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees. 

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“There must be public Senate hearings, at a minimum, to examine why the United States still does not have adequate testing and why some lenders in the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program have prioritized the applications of their larger and wealthier clients to the detriment of smaller businesses that have oftentimes suffered greater hardship," Schumer added. 

Schumer's comments come after McConnell announced that the Senate will return to Washington next Monday, on May 4. House Democrats also announced on Monday that they will return to Washington next week as well.  

Schumer's call for public hearings comes as GOP chairmen have indicated that they will conduct oversight of the response to the coronavirus. 

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonRon Johnson praises conservative author bashed by Fauci Wisconsin GOP quietly prepares Ron Johnson backup plans Biden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet MORE (R-Wis.), who chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is expected to probe the U.S. and international response, with GOP senators on the panel saying they will hold a committee hearing on China's handling of the virus. 

Democrats have raised concerns that Republicans are trying to shift blame to China and the World Health Organization as the administration's own response to the virus is coming under criticism. 

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But GOP senators have also warned recently that the United States is still trailing behind where it needs to be on coronavirus testing. Public health experts say widespread testing is crucial before states start lifting social distancing restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. 

"We're way behind still where we should be on testing," Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who has also been critical of China and the WHO, told reporters last week. 

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate holds sleepy Saturday session as negotiators finalize infrastructure deal Break glass in case of emergency — but not for climate change Democrats join GOP in pressuring Biden over China, virus origins MORE (R-Fla.), who heads the Senate's small business committee, has also said he will conduct oversight of the Paycheck Protection Program, including threatening to subpoena companies who do not comply. 

"More than one million small businesses have used the program exactly as intended, and by some estimates it has saved 30 million jobs. However, we also have multiple reports of companies abusing the program," Rubio said earlier this month. 

Several large restaurant chains have disclosed that they received funding under the program. The Los Angeles Lakers disclosed on Monday that they returned a $4.6 million loan received under the program.