Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced legislation Monday that would disclose lawmakers’ Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, which she said could reveal lawmakers’ potential conflicts of interest.
Ernst unveiled her legislation after a Politico report found at least four lawmakers — Reps. Roger Williams (R-TX), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Susie Lee (D-NV), and Debbie Murcasel Powell (D-FL) — either received a PPP or had a spouse who had received a PPP loan. The PPP program is typically reserved for small businesses to help alleviate the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.
The legislation, otherwise known as the Transparency Requirements Aimed at Congressional Expenditures (TRACE) Act, would mandate that lawmakers, spouses of lawmakers, and congressional employees disclose within 15 days that they have received a PPP loan.
Ernst said in a statement on Monday the American people deserve to know if lawmakers have a potential conflict of interest over the PPP program. She said:
It’s really simple: if you’re a member of Congress and you or a family member benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program, Americans – your constituents – should know. This bill provides greater transparency, which ensures accountability. The PPP has saved countless businesses and the jobs of millions of Americans, but those in Congress who are voting on it—or any issue—where a potential conflict of interest may exist need to be upfront about it. The only reason to oppose this bill is if you have something to hide.
Conservatives and ethics watchdogs lauded Ernst’s bill.
Andrew Lautz, the policy and government affairs manager of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), said:
Congress has authorized more than $650 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) since March. While PPP has certainly helped many small businesses around the country, taxpayers supporting this program have a right to know where such an extraordinary amount of money is going – especially if the Members of Congress who voted for the program are benefiting from it. The TRACE Act would ensure that the people who represent Americans in Congress, and the people seeking to represent Americans in Congress next year, are required to disclose any benefits from PPP. National Taxpayers Union applauds Senator Ernst for introducing this good-government measure, and we urge Congress to pass it as standalone legislation or as part of the next major COVID-19 legislative package.”
Adam Andrzejewski, the CEO and founder of transparency nonprofit OpentheBooks, said, “Taxpayers must be able to follow the money. If members of Congress vote for subsidies or other aid that they benefit from in their private capacity, then every dime must be disclosed in as real-time as possible.”
“This helps preserve the institutional integrity of Congress,” Andrzejewski added.
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.