Amid reports of larger chains sucking up the dollars in the small-business coronavirus aid program, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has vowed to investigate abuses of the Payroll Protection Program, including issuing subpoenas to companies.
"This fall, the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship will conduct aggressive oversight into the use of the PPP," Rubio, chairman of the committee, told The Hill. "If companies are not forthcoming, the committee will use its subpoena power to compel cooperation."
Republicans have sought to add $250 billion to the Payroll Protection Program, which has run out of its allotted $349 billion from the Phase 3 $2.2 trillion CARES bill, but reports found nationwide chains and companies received funding through the PPP, which was supposed to be for business with around 500 employees.
"Any business, regardless of size, must certify it has been harmed by the coronavirus crisis, and that PPP is necessary to maintain operations," Rubio told The Hill, pointing to the program's "borrower requirements" stating companies should make "good faith certification" of "the uncertainty of current economic conditions."
The Florida Republican reported "multiple reports of companies abusing the program," per The Hill.
"Now is not the time for our nation’s companies to profit at others' expense," Rubio added. "We are all in this together."
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said "millions of dollars are being wasted."
"I am concerned that many businesses with thousands of employees have found loopholes to qualify for these loans meant for small businesses," Scott said.
"Right now, companies that are not being harmed at all by the coronavirus crisis have the ability to receive taxpayer-funded loans that can be forgiven," he added.
Among the 17 chains with more than 500 employees to have accessed $143 million in loans, per The Hill, include: Ruth's Chris Steak House (150 locations and $468 million in revenue) received $20 million; sandwich chain Potbelly (400 locations) received $10 million; and Shake Shack (more than 200) received $10 million.
Shake Shack will now forgo the loan, per the report.
Congressional leaders hope to have a deal to provide supplemental support of $250 billion for the PPP program, including an added $50 billion to $60 billion for smaller lenders, perhaps coming to a deal as soon as late Monday night.
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