At least four lawmakers have received financial aid from the business loan program they helped pass amid the coronavirus outbreak and some members of Congress want to know how many more politicians have accepted aid, Politico reports.
As the Small Business Administration and Treasury Department keep the details of who received small business loans under programs like the Paycheck Protection Program sealed, some lawmakers are making their ties to any government-issued money known.
So far, four members of Congress have disclosed that businesses that are either run by their families or employ their spouse as a senior executive have received small business loans.
Some lawmakers are pushing to find out who else in Congress has accepted money.
On the list for the Republicans are Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, who owns auto dealerships, body shops, and car washes, and Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., whose family owns multiple farms and equipment suppliers across the Midwest.
The Democrats count Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., whose husband is CEO of a regional casino developer, and Rep. Debbie Mucarsel Powell, D-Fla., whose husband is an executive at a restaurant chain that has since returned the loan.
All four lawmakers who received the PPP loans say they were obtained properly out of a want to help keep people employed. It is not illegal for lawmakers to apply or accept the money.
But some lawmakers say the program should have total transparency because it is taxpayer funded.
"This is the largest distributor of taxpayer money in human history, and we need to ensure taxpayers know where it's going," Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., told Politico.
Phillips put forward a bill that would publish the names of all businesses that received a loan over $2 million. It was shot down by Republicans last month.
He said the bill "was not written to expose members of Congress, because frankly I expected members of Congress to be forthright and transparent to begin with."
Reps. Lee and Powell supported the bill, while Reps. Williams and Hartzler voted against it.
It is unclear how much Williams and Hartzler received in funding. Aides to both Republicans said their loans were under the $2 million threshold that would have required disclosure under the proposed bill.
"Like every other company who accepted a small-business loan, our business qualified under law and regulation, and today over 100 of our employees are grateful that we did," Williams wrote on his website last month.
Lee's husband who is the president and CEO of Full House Resorts received $5.6 million, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Fiesta Restaurant Group, which employs Powell's husband as an executive, received $15 million before returning all of the funding. A spokesperson for Powell said her husband was not involved in the PPP loan process and took a pay cut.
Democrats urged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday to provide more details on who received the loans.
"Among other steps, the administration should release the names of all PPP borrowers," a group of senior Democrats wrote in a letter to Mnuchin.
Phillips said he wants to bring the bill back to the floor again, but under a simple majority so it would be easier to pass.
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