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Katie Porter demands resignation of Trump small business chief for enabling ‘abuse’ of Covid-19 relief funds

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California Congresswoman Katie Porter is demanding the resignation of the Trump administration’s small business chief for enabling “abuse” and “waste” of coronavirus relief funds and refusing to comply with basic government oversight efforts.

Porter’s call came after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report last week that it “encountered the most difficulty trying to obtain information from the Small Business Administration (SBA)” during the process of examining the Trump administration’s handling of the $650 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

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The GAO also said SBA’s attempts to speed up the loan application process left the sprawling small business relief program “more susceptible to fraudulent applications.”

“Because of the number of loans approved, the speed with which they were processed, and the limited safeguards, there is a significant risk that some fraudulent or inflated applications were approved,” the GAO said. “In addition, the lack of clear guidance has increased the likelihood that borrowers may misuse loan proceeds or be surprised they do not qualify for full loan forgiveness.”

In an interview on MSNBC Thursday, Porter argued the GAO’s findings demonstrate that SBA administrator Jovita Carranza is “unfit to continue in that role.”

“The PPP program, that $650 billion, this is one of the biggest government programs in our country’s history, and she is fighting with the nonpartisan GAO on basic data that lets them do their job of transparency and accountability,” said the California Democrat. “That is the wrong mindset for somebody whose title is administrator.”

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In a series of tweets last week, Porter warned that the SBA “has essentially no plans to review 99% of PPP loans.”

“According to the [GAO] report, small businesses that didn’t need the money returned at least 3,800 loans,” Porter wrote. “How are you going to know if the other 4,576,388 loans are legitimate? Any answers, [Treasury Secretary] Steve Mnuchin or Jovita Carranza?”

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“Carranza has mismanaged this program from start to end, refused to comply with lawful oversight, and enabled waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars,” said Porter. “She should take responsibility and resign.”

The SBA and the Treasury Department have both come under fire for resisting calls to disclose basic information about recipients of small business loans. On June 11, as Common Dreams reported, Mnuchin told the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship that information about PPP loan recipients is “proprietary” and “confidential.”

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In response to widespread backlash—including from Porter and other lawmakers—Mnuchin and the SBA agreed to disclose the names of borrowers who received loans of $150,000 or more.

On top of Trump administration intransigence, advocacy groups have warned that oversight of Covid-19 relief funds has been lax because the commission created by Congress to monitor the money remains without a chair nearly 100 days after its inception. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) must agree on the appointment.

“Without a head, the commission has been severely constrained in its critical work of overseeing the economic stabilization efforts that the Treasury and Federal Reserve were charged with in the CARES Act,” Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president of Public Citizen, said in a statement Wednesday. “Filling this seat must be a top priority for congressional leadership so that the American public can be reassured that there is robust oversight of our money as it goes out the door.”

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2020 Election

If Trump loses two more states it’s ‘ballgame over’: AP reporter

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Appearing on MSNBC's " Morning Joe," Associated Press White House correspondent Jonathan Lemire explained Donald Trump's chances of being re-elected have reached the point where, if he loses the electoral votes of one more, he will be out of luck and out of office.

Speaking with co-host Joe Scarborough, Lemire was asked where Trump stands in the battleground states he so desperately needs.

"Both campaigns agree that there are six battleground states to decide this election: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, North Carolina, Florida," he began. "Now the president has to play defense and has had to spend resources and had to go the past week to places like Ohio, Texas -- Georgia is another one where he has to play defense. We don't see, outside of perhaps New Hampshire, a place where Democrats have to do the same now that the Trump campaign has ceded Michigan."

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Trump’s executive orders are confusing and unconstitutional — and likely to hurt his own voters. He doesn’t care.

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As we went into the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had washed his hands of the negotiations over the vitally necessary COVID-19 relief package, leaving Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and former Tea Party zealot turned White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to try to hash out a deal. Word was that the Democrats had come down from their demand for $3 trillion in various relief programs to $2 trillion, while the White House stuck to its offer of $1 trillion and not a penny more. By Friday, the Senate was going home and the talks had irretrievably stalled.
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Trump administration says US would share COVID vaccine with world after America’s needs are met

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On Monday, Fox News reported that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is offering to share any potential COVID-19 vaccine with other countries, after it stabilizes public health in the United States.

"The U.S. will share any coronavirus vaccine it develops with the globe after American needs are met, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Monday during a visit to Taiwan," reported Evie Fordham.

"Our first priority of course is to develop and produce enough quantity of safe and effective FDA-approved vaccines and therapeutics for use in the United States," said Azar. "But we anticipate having capacity that, once those needs are satisfied, those products would be available in the world community according to fair and equitable distributions that we would consult in the international community on ... After our departure from the WHO, we will work with others in the world community to find the appropriate vehicles for continuing to support, on a multilateral and bilateral basis, global public health on the order that the United States has done in the past."

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