Democrats call for more oversight of coronavirus spending

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Congressional Democrats are continuing calls for increased oversight of federal coronavirus spending.

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., has asked the watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office exactly who got loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, which was supposed to benefit small businesses.

“I’d like a better accounting as to who received the money,” Peters said. “We want to make sure it was spent appropriately.”

The first pool of $349 billion for PPP loans was depleted within two weeks, and Peters said many small businesses in his state never got a cut.

“We’re the 10th largest state and yet we ranked 35 in the amount of money coming to small businesses in our state,” Peters said. “Certainly, I think that’s unacceptable.”

The GAO says it will review the funding. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has already ordered all publicly traded companies to return PPP loans and some big names like Shake Shack have already complied.

An emergency aid plan passed earlier this week set aside $60 billion to help the smallest business get loans faster.

But before that, House Democrats passed a plan to create an oversight committee to review all coronavirus spending.

“We should be looking at making sure these are going out in the way that they should,” Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, said.

No Republicans supported the creation of that committee, saying the necessary oversight already exists. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., said there are already eight other oversight committees. One of them is a special oversight committee created under the CARES Act, which must review coronavirus spending and report back to Congress within 90 days.

Some Republicans are also worried the new committee will be biased.

“Basically, it’s going to be another impeachment process to say what did the president do wrong,” Rep. Ron Estes, R-Kan., said.

Peters said he wants oversight committees to make PPP a top priority.

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