Treasury to give Congress access to all PPP loan data

Treasury to give Congress access to all PPP loan data
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Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election On The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline Vulnerable Democrats tell Pelosi COVID-19 compromise 'essential' MORE agreed to provide relevant congressional committees with full access to loan data from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a key demand Democrats have been pushing.

In a letter dated Thursday, Mnuchin told House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealOn The Money: Half of states deplete funds for Trump's 0 unemployment expansion | EU appealing ruling in Apple tax case | House Democrats include more aid for airlines in coronavirus package House Democrats to include more aid for airlines in coronavirus package The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election MORE (D-Mass.) that it would include data with borrower names and loan amounts "with the understanding that nonpublic personally identifiable and commercially sensitive business information will be treated as confidential."

The letter was first reported by Politico.

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Mnuchin had earlier agreed to publicly disclose information on the loans within wide ranges but said Treasury would keep personally identifiable information for businesses that took loans below $150,000 under wraps.

For those loans, they would only provide aggregate data on industry, ZIP code, business type and demographic characteristics. Mnuchin argued that that category of loans only accounted for 25 percent of the total dollar amount.

Neal called the plan "inadequate," noting that while loans under $150,000 accounted for only a quarter of the total dollar amount, they comprised 85 percent of the total number of loans made.

The PPP was one of the hallmark policies in March's emergency COVID-19 relief bill. It offered small businesses forgivable loans if they used most of the cash to keep workers on board.

Congress allocated $659 billion for the program in two separate tranches and loosened the terms for loan forgiveness to allow businesses to spend more of the money on overhead expenses and use the cash over a longer period of time.

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Democrats have been critical of the administration, saying it has been resistant to legally mandated oversight efforts.

"At all times, but particularly in the midst of this unprecedented economic and public health crisis, we must ensure the administration’s transparent and responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars,” Neal said this week in a joint statement with House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersPowell, Mnuchin stress limits of current emergency lending programs Pelosi: House will stay in session until agreement is reached on coronavirus relief Omar invokes father's death from coronavirus in reaction to Woodward book MORE (D-Calif.) and House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.).

On Thursday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said the program was vulnerable to fraud and waste.

"Because of the number of loans approved, the speed with which they were processed, and the limited safeguards, there is a significant risk that some fraudulent or inflated applications were approved,” the GAO report said.

“In addition, the lack of clear guidance has increased the likelihood that borrowers may misuse loan proceeds or be surprised they do not qualify for full loan forgiveness,” it added.