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 MnuchinOn The Money: Supreme Court upholds NY prosecutors' access to Trump's tax returns, rebuffs Congress | Trump complains of 'political prosecution' | Biden rebukes Trump, rolls out jobs plan Mnuchin: Next stimulus bill must cap jobless benefits at 100 percent of previous income Why Trump can't make up his mind on China 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 NealSupreme Court rulings reignite Trump oversight wars in Congress Five takeaways from PPP loan data Trump administration releases PPP loan data 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 WatersSupreme Court rulings reignite Trump oversight wars in Congress On The Money: Mnuchin, Powell differ over how soon economy will recover | Millions fear eviction without more aid from Congress | IRS chief pledges to work on tax code's role in racial wealth disparities Millions fear eviction without more aid from Congress 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.