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Inspectors General Sounding The Alarm Over Administration’s Attempt To Block Oversight Of Pandemic Response Funds

As concerns mount over the administration’s refusal to disclose the recipients of the Paycheck Protection Program, inspectors general leading the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, submitted a letter to Congress last week expressing concern that the administration “had issued legal rulings curtailing independent oversight of more than $1 trillion in Cares Act funding,” that could raise questions over their authority to conduct oversight of the relief funding.

From the start, the administration has worked to curb oversight provisions over the more than $1 trillion in spending in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and Thom Tillis has refused to stand up to this dangerous behavior and speak out against attempts to undermine checks and balances.

  • “Almost immediately after signing the coronavirus package, Trump questioned the constitutionality of the law’s requirement that a new Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery notify Congress immediately if the administration “unreasonably” withholds information requested by investigators.
  • “In early April, Trump also ousted former acting Pentagon inspector general Glenn Fine, the chairman of the federal panel created by Congress oversee the implementation of the stimulus package.”

These continued and worrisome reports underscore the urgency of Cal Cunningham’s repeated calls for increased transparency, oversight, and accountability. 

As an unprecedented amount of taxpayer money is being spent, it is incumbent on leaders in Washington like Thom Tillis to ensure it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands and establish measures that guard against corruption. 

Washington Post: Inspectors general warn Congress that Trump administration is blocking scrutiny of bailout programs as uproar over small business disclosure intensifies

By Tom Hamburger, Jeff Stein, Jonathan O’Connell and Aaron Gregg – June 15, 2020

  • The Trump administration’s intensifying efforts to block oversight of its coronavirus-related bailout programs is raising new alarms with government watchdogs and lawmakers amid concerns about the anonymity of companies receiving unprecedented levels of taxpayer funds.
  • Government watchdogs warned members of Congress last week that previously unknown Trump administration legal decisions could substantially block their ability to oversee more than $1 trillion in spending related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • In a letter on Thursday to four congressional committee chairs, two officials in charge of a new government watchdog revealed that the Trump administration had issued legal rulings curtailing independent oversight of more than $1 trillion in Cares Act funding.
  • The letter surfaced amid growing bipartisan outrage over the administration’s decision not to disclose how it is spending hundreds in billions in aid for businesses. On Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appeared to bow to that pressure, saying he would work with Congress on new oversight measures. But some Democrats have said the White House isn’t taking disclosure requests seriously enough.
  • “They seem to be saying one thing while doing exactly the opposite,” said House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.). “If the Trump administration is committed to full cooperation and transparency with taxpayer dollars, it is unclear why it is manufacturing legal loopholes to avoid responding to legitimate oversight requests.”
  • According to the previously undisclosed letter, Department of Treasury attorneys concluded that the administration is not required to provide the watchdogs with information about the beneficiaries of programs created by the law’s “Division A.” That section of the Cares Act includes some of the most controversial and expensive programs in the response efforts to the coronavirus, including the administration’s massive bailout for small businesses and nearly $500 billion in loans for corporations.
  • Mnuchin surprised many lawmakers last week when he announced he would not allow the names of PPP recipients to become public after the Trump administration had said for months that the data would eventually be disclosed.
  • The inspectors general letter and Mnuchin’s insistence that the PPP data will not be released come after the White House has repeatedly rebuffed efforts to scrutinize where all the taxpayer funding is going.
  • In their letter, the inspectors general leading the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, an independent oversight committee created to oversee implementation of the Cares Act, expressed concern about the administration legal opinions and their impact on oversight.
  • “If this interpretation of the CARES Act were correct, it would raise questions about PRAC’s authority to conduct oversight of Division A funds,” said Michael Horowitz and Robert Westbrooks, the acting chair and executive director of PRAC, in a letter obtained by The Washington Post. “This would present potentially significant transparency and oversight issues because Division A of the CARES Act includes over $1 trillion in funding.”