WASHINGTON ― Top Democrats are urging the Trump administration to quickly appoint a special inspector general in charge of scrutinizing aid to major corporations under the $2 trillion economic rescue package Congress passed last week.
The massive coronavirus aid package, which includes direct payments to many Americans as well as loans to struggling small businesses, set up three mechanisms to oversee nearly $500 billion in loans the Treasury Department will be in charge of dispensing to major corporations: first, a bipartisan panel of members of Congress; second, a committee of inspectors general; and third, a special inspector general to be appointed by the president.
In a signing statement for the bill on Friday, however, Trump suggested he would not comply with some aspects of the role of the special inspector general for pandemic recovery (SIGPR) agreed on by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Democrats, whose votes were crucial to getting the bill to the president’s desk. The position was modeled after a special inspector general charged with identifying and alerting the public and Congress to waste, fraud and abuse in the 2008 Wall Street bailout.
Specifically, Trump said he would treat as optional a provision requiring the special inspector general to notify Congress if it is unreasonably denied information about loan decisions made by the Treasury Department.
“You, on behalf of the Administration, negotiated and agreed to the scope and terms of the SIGPR authority, both generally to Congress and to each of us personally,” Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Sherrod Brown of Ohio wrote in a letter addressed to Mnuchin on Tuesday.
“This oversight authority was critical for gaining support for your request for over $500 billion to aid struggling companies, states, municipalities, and other troubled entities,” the senators added in the letter. “Provision of these funds was conditioned on the SIGPR’s...