House Democrats accuse Trump administration of violating law on small business program oversight

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The lawmakers, in a letter signed by the chairs from key House oversight panels, said they were “deeply troubled” by the SBA’s lack of compliance up to this point and alleged the agency’s actions to this point were “in violation of the law,” the latest escalation in a series of battles between Democrats and the Trump administration related to the oversight of the trillions in federal spending deployed to stem the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

“GAO informed the Committees that SBA has not complied with GAO’s requests and repeatedly failed to commit to a timeframe in which SBA would comply,” the lawmakers wrote to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza. “To date, SBA has not granted GAO access to all requested SBA officials for interviews and, according to GAO, SBA officials who have been interviewed have not been fully cooperative in providing timely, fulsome, and transparent responses to interview questions.”

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The SBA and Treasury Department have come under increased scrutiny and pressure in recent weeks over the lack of disclosure related to the massive emergency loan program that sits as a central piece of the $2.2 trillion emergency economic recovery law. Lawmakers have publicly raised concerns about compliance with GAO oversight, but the letter adds new details to the extent of the non-compliance up to this point.

“Refusing to provide basic data to GAO about PPP loans appears to be an attempt to avoid such oversight and accountability,” the lawmakers wrote.

A spokesman for the Small Business Administration declined to comment on the letter. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers last week the administration was working to address the GAO’s concerns.

The letter was signed by House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Chairman Jim Clyburn, House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Chairman Mike Quigley.

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