Senate

Top Senate Democrats to try to pass coronavirus aid oversight bill on Tuesday

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Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.), the top Democrat on the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, will try to pass legislation on Tuesday to require public reporting on how a key small business aid program is being disbursed. 

A senior Democratic aide told The Hill that the two Democratic senators will try to pass legislation “that would provide new transparency and oversight of the PPP, EIDL, and debt relief programs,” referring to the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

The bill, according to the aide, would require daily and weekly reporting on the funding under the small business programs including details on geography, demographics and type of industry. 

“The reporting would include the names of the businesses, nonprofits and lenders and the loan or grant amounts in a standardized and downloadable format. Reporting would also evaluate whether the Administration’s implementation effectively reached underserved and underbanked borrowers,” the aide added.  

Under Senate rules any senator can try to pass a bill by unanimous consent or a voice vote, but any one senator can object. 

Congress has passed roughly $660 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides loans to companies with fewer than 500 employees. The last measure approved by Congress included $60 billion for emergency disaster loans and grants.

The PPP has sparked some frustration amid several reports that large companies, including chain restaurants, have been able to qualify for loans. Several of those companies have returned money to the program.

The push to pass the oversight legislation comes a day after the Senate returned to Washington, D.C., despite the coronavirus crisis.

Democrats have fumed over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) decision to bring lawmakers back to Washington without scheduling any coronavirus-related legislation on the Senate floor, where senators are expected to vote on a series of nominations. 

“If we are going to be here — if we are going to make these fine people come into work in these conditions — let the Senate at least conduct the nation’s business and focus like a laser on COVID-19. At the moment, the Republican leader has scheduled no significant COVID-related business for the floor of the Senate,” Schumer said from the Senate floor on Monday. 

The Senate Banking Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Tuesday on Brian Miller’s nomination to be the special inspector general for pandemic recovery.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is also expected to hold a hearing this week on coronavirus testing. 

Tags Ben Cardin Charles Schumer Coronavirus COVID-19 Mitch McConnell
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