Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday he plans to talk with lawmakers about oversight of the Paycheck Protection Program after igniting controversy last week when he refused to disclose the businesses that received government-backed loans.
"I will be having discussions with the Senate @SmallBizCmte and others on a bipartisan basis to strike the appropriate balance for proper oversight of #ppploans and appropriate protection of small business information," Mnuchin tweeted on Monday morning.
Mnuchin came under fire while testifying before the Senate Small Business Committee on Wednesday when he said the Trump administration would not reveal the names of companies and nonprofits that got the Paycheck Protection Program loans. Under the aid program, businesses can receive up to $10 million taxpayer-funded loans that will be forgiven by the federal government if a certain percentage goes toward maintaining payroll.
"As it relates to the names and amounts of specific [Paycheck Protection Program] loans, we believe that that's proprietary information, and in many cases for sole proprietors and small businesses is confidential information," Mnuchin said last week.
Republicans and Democrats have both urged the administration to disclose loan recipients in recent weeks. At the end of May, 38 Republicans and 231 Democrats voted in favor of a PPP disclosure bill.
"Given the many problems with the program, it is imperative American taxpayers know if the money is going where Congress intended – to the truly small and unbanked small business," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Friday. "The administration's resistance to transparency is outrageous and only serves to raise further suspicions about how the funds are being distributed and who is actually benefiting."
The second round of PPP funding began April 27 after the initial tranche of $349 billion evaporated in just 13 days, in part because large publicly traded companies tapped the program. Facing uproar, a number of big companies said they would return the money.
As of Friday, more than 4.5 million loans worth close to $512 billion had been distributed through the program. Congress allocated about $610 billion to the PPP, leaving roughly $100 billion left over in the fund.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Friday he will "work closely with SBA and Treasury to ensure enough data is disclosed about the program to determine its effectiveness, and ensure there is adequate transparency without compromising borrowers' proprietary information."