Trump administration to give Congress full virus loan data

FILE - In this April 21, 2020, file photo Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. The Trump administration has abruptly dropped on Friday, June 19, its insistence on secrecy for a $600 billion-plus coronavirus aid program for small businesses. Mnuchin refused to do so at a Senate hearing last week, saying the data was proprietary information. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
FILE - In this April 21, 2020, file photo Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. The Trump administration has abruptly dropped on Friday, June 19, its insistence on secrecy for a $600 billion-plus coronavirus aid program for small businesses. Mnuchin refused to do so at a Senate hearing last week, saying the data was proprietary information. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON – After prodding from Democratic lawmakers, the Trump administration has agreed to give Congress — but not the public — complete data on the millions of small businesses that received loans from a $600 billion-plus coronavirus aid program.

Senior administration officials told lawmakers they will provide full details on the roughly 4.7 million taxpayer-funded loans worth $515 billion awarded under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. Their concession came with a warning to lawmakers not to divulge “confidential” loan information to the wider public.

Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, was one of the congressional oversight leaders who had pushed for the loan data from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza.

The administration’s concession is “a step in the right direction,” Neal spokesperson Erin Hatch said Friday, though Neal believes the names of all recipients should be made public.

Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., told The Associated Press in an email that while it's unfortunate it took so much pressure from Congress, “this is a valuable step, and we will be carefully reviewing the data to ensure that taxpayers and small businesses are being properly served by the program." Velazquez heads the House Small Business Committee.

Last week, the Treasury Department and SBA relented to pressure from lawmakers and watchdogs and agreed to publicly disclose details on which businesses received loans under the program. Up to now, SBA has only provided summary information about the beneficiaries of its loans, such as the industry the businesses are in and the state in which they are located.

But it will be only a partial disclosure: For loans of less than $150,000, the agencies will not publicly name the recipients, revealing only loan amounts and summary information broken down by ZIP code, industry and demographics, and the number of jobs they helped protect.

The SBA has processed 4.7 million loans worth about $515 billion. Nearly 75% of the total money approved so far has gone to businesses borrowing more than $150,000. But 86% of the loans have gone to businesses borrowing less than $150,000.