A group of Republican senators have sent a letter to the Small Business Administration, urging the government agency to ensure that Planned Parenthood affiliates don't receive loans designated to help small businesses stay afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Paycheck Protection Program was part of the stimulus package passed by Congress last year to help businesses that were forced to close due to government-imposed lockdowns in response to COVID-19. The program provided loans to small businesses so they could pay their employees and their bills as lockdowns rendered them unable to open and consequently, unable to make money. A coronavirus relief package passed last month authorized additional PPP loans.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and 29 other Senate Republicans, wrote a letter to Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza Thursday, urging her to “take precautions so that affiliates of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest and most notorious abortion provider, do not receive loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as they did earlier this year in defiance of the law.”
As the senators explained, “Applicants for the initial waves of PPP loans had to employ no more than 500 employees across all of their affiliates to be eligible for a loan; applicants for a second-draw loan must have no more than 300 employees across all of their affiliates.” They contended that Planned Parenthood, which employs about 16,000 people nationwide, was ineligible to receive PPP loans.
The letter featured a quote from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the abortion provider’s political action committee, which noted that the stimulus package “gives the Small Business Administration broad discretion to exclude Planned Parenthood [and its] affiliates." Despite the fact that the organization knew that it did not qualify for loans under the PPP, it still received loans from the program.
“At least 37 Planned Parenthood affiliates illegally obtained more than $80 million in taxpayer funds during the initial rounds of PPP by self-certifying their eligibility for the program,” the senators continued. “In response, the SBA determined that these affiliates were ineligible to receive PPP loans and issued letters informing them of the consequences of false certifications of eligibility, including repayment of loans, loss of loan forgiveness, and other civil and criminal penalties.”
“Members of this body previously have urged you to investigate these false certifications of eligibility, recover the more than $80 million in funds, and seek appropriate penalties against Planned Parenthood affiliates that broke the law,” they added.
“An equally urgent task is to ensure Planned Parenthood affiliates do not receive additional PPP loans intended for struggling small businesses and nonprofits. We therefore urge you to inform participating lenders that Planned Parenthood affiliates are ineligible to receive second-draw PPP loans, and encourage them to immediately notify SBA if a Planned Parenthood affiliate applies for such a loan through their institution.”
The letter concluded with senators describing Planned Parenthood’s attempts to apply for PPP loans as a “naked attempts to defraud the United States government” and stressing the importance of ensuring that “additional relief funds go to those who need it, in accordance with the law, rather than unscrupulous organizations like Planned Parenthood.”
The letter comes just days before President-elect Joe Biden is set to take office. Biden, who has received the support of Planned Parenthood, will appoint a new director of the Small Business Administration and it is unknown whether a Biden appointee will be less likely to honor the senators’ requests than a Small Business Administrator appointed by the pro-life Trump administration.
Biden has outlined his vision for an additional stimulus package that he hopes the unified Democratic Congress will pass after he takes office, which includes additional funding for small businesses.
Planned Parenthood is not the only well-known organization to draw scrutiny for receiving PPP loans designated to help small businesses. Marcus Lamb, the founder of Daystar Television Network, returned $3.9 million in PPP money after allegations surfaced that the money was used to purchase a luxury aircraft. Lamb denied using the government loan to purchase the aircraft and returned the money with interest.