Senate Democrats call on Trump administration to let Planned Parenthood centers keep PPP loans

Senate Democrats call on Trump administration to let Planned Parenthood centers keep PPP loans
© Bonnie Cash

Senate Democrats are calling on the Small Business Administration (SBA) to stop pressuring Planned Parenthood centers to return loans they received from the coronavirus stimulus package.

Forty-one Democrats, led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerVoting rights failed in the Senate — where do we go from here? Forced deadline spurs drastic tactic in Congress Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE (D-N.Y.), sent a letter dated Friday to the Treasury Department and SBA refuting Republicans’ claims that the centers do not qualify for the loan program and blasted efforts to have Planned Parenthood return the money as “ideological.”

"It is critical that the SBA implement the PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] as Congress directed, without ideological efforts to treat certain nonprofit organizations differently from others," they wrote. "The SBA must administer the PPP in a manner that is uniform and that does not target any entity or subset of entities for exclusion, especially if doing so is based on a political ideology, the services provided by that entity, or any other factor unrelated to the criteria established by law in the CARES Act." 

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The letter comes as the Trump administration and Senate Republicans put pressure on Planned Parenthood centers over the $80 million they received.

Senate Republicans are calling on the Justice Department to investigate Planned Parenthood centers, claiming that they were ineligible for the funds due to the PPP’s size standards.

“We write to urge you to investigate the activities of dozens of Planned Parenthood affiliates that reportedly applied for and received approximately $80 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, despite actual knowledge that they were ineligible for such loans,” they wrote in a letter this week to Attorney General William BarrBill BarrThe Hill's Morning Report - US warns Kremlin, weighs more troops to Europe Jan. 6 committee chair says panel spoke to William Barr William Barr's memoir set for release in early March MORE. “It was not designed to give government funds to politicized, partisan abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.” 

The SBA also sent letters to a number of the affiliates this week saying they were ineligible for the funds due to the PPP’s size standards and that the money should be returned.

The loans from the PPP, which was created under the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, are intended for businesses and nonprofits with no more than 500 employees, though the legislation allows some flexibility for larger firms to receive funds.

The argument from the Republican senators and the SBA is that Planned Parenthood’s affiliates are subject to enough discretion from the larger organization that they should be deemed ineligible for the loans.

Planned Parenthood has pushed back against the claims, accusing the GOP of launching a "clear political attack on Planned Parenthood health centers and access to reproductive health care." 

“It has nothing to do with Planned Parenthood health care organizations’ eligibility for COVID-19 relief efforts, and everything to do with the Trump administration using a public health crisis to advance a political agenda and distract from their own failures in protecting the American public from the spread of COVID-19,” Jacqueline Ayers, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America's vice president of government relations and public policy, said in a statement.