Schumer calls for hearings on Trump’s ‘abject failure at implementing’ coronavirus relief
Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) on Tuesday blasted the Trump administration for failing to properly implement the four coronavirus relief packages passed by Congress, saying he would call on the Senate to begin oversight hearings next week.
“This administration has been an abject failure at implementing most of these laws,” Schumer said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday, asserting the administration doesn’t have the necessary qualified personnel and focus.
“All too often it seems the president’s ego is at stake,” he added.
Schumer announced that he and other Senate Democrats will send a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) demanding Senate oversight hearings for the first four coronavirus relief bills passed by Congress, including the $2.2 trillion CARES Act.
“What we should do now that we’re coming back next week is have hearings, oversight. Haul in Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci, Azar, and say ‘Why isn’t testing working?’” he said, referring to Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci, two senior health advisers to President Trump, and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
Schumer said the administration’s plan for implementing more widespread testing “had almost no details as to how it’s going to work.”
“Why don’t we need a national regime to make sure that the manufacturing and supplies chains work?” he added.
The Democratic leader also called for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza to testify about reports that big businesses such as the Los Angeles Lakers, a basketball franchise with an estimated value of $4.4 billion, received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans that were supposed to go to small businesses.
“Why after 30 days — we passed the first COVID bill 30 days [ago] — are computers breaking down? Where was the extra support? Where are the personnel?” he said.
“We could have oversight hearings, and I hope Leader McConnell will do that,” he said.
McConnell has informed colleagues they will reconvene in Washington the week of May 4 and said he plans to vote on nominations.
Schumer made his comments shortly after Mnuchin acknowledged some problems with the implementation of the small-business lending program on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
Mnuchin said it was “outrageous” that the Lakers, one of the most valuable franchises in all of sports, received a $4.6 million small-business loan, which the organization has said it will return.
“I’m not a big fan of the fact that they took $4.6 million,” he said, adding he “would have never expected in a million years that the Los Angeles Lakers” would accept such a loan. He said he was glad the team returned the money and would have faced a “liability” had they not.
Mnuchin warned last week that big companies that receive forgivable loans that were intended for small business could be investigated if they did not have a real need for federal assistance.
He admitted during a Fox Business interview that it was “questionable” whether some larger companies that accepted loans truly qualified as small businesses in need.
Shake Shack, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Potbelly Sandwiches drew criticism earlier this month for accepting PPP small-business loans at a time when many smaller businesses were unable to obtain federally backed loans. All three companies have said they will return the loans. All three restaurant chains are publicly traded.
Schumer on Tuesday put the blame on the administration for improperly implementing the $670 billion small-business loan program and other components of coronavirus relief legislation.
“Call these people before the Congress,” Schumer said. “This will enable [senators] to ask tough question after tough question.”
“The executive branch has failed miserably implementing almost all the things Congress has passed,” he added. “I’ve never seen an administration so bad at enacting the laws that Congress has put together.”