Tester Presses Treasury Secretary for More Transparency on $3 Trillion in Pandemic Relief Funds
Senator requests better information on status of economic relief funding
At a Senate Banking Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Jon Tester pressed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for more transparency on how Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic relief funding is being allocated and continued his push for more robust oversight of the federal government’s response to the coronavirus crisis.
Billions of taxpayer dollars have been allocated to help workers and small businesses survive the pandemic, but the Administration has not yet lived up to its promise for transparency on how exactly that money is being spent.
“Nearly half of the dollars we’ve allocated [in the CARES Act]…has been neither spent or lent,” Tester said. “We need more transparency on these programs, and I think you would agree with that. When can we see full information about who’s getting the dollars?”
Tester also pressed Secretary Mnuchin on the recent firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, who President Trump removed last week amid Linick’s investigation into potential corruption. Tester pushed Secretary Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to work with any Inspectors General seeking to conduct oversight on the Administration, and asked whether Mnuchin found Linick’s removal – while Linick was actively investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and was removed at Pompeo’s request – to be appropriate.
“I know [President Trump] has the ability to remove anybody, including yourself,” Tester said. “[But removal] in this case, when it’s Inspectors General working on an independent basis, I think it’s a clear misunderstanding of the three branches of government.”
Tester has been critical of Trump’s interference into independent investigations by Inspectors General, and urged the heads of every federal agency tasked with pandemic recovery assistance to establish protocols to make sure coronavirus relief funds are targeted to the most affected businesses and individuals, and to update procedures to identify and prevent fraud and abuse.
Tester is also pushing for more robust oversight of the governmental response to the coronavirus crisis. He fought to include an independent Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery in the CARES Act, and teamed up with Senator Mitt Romney in urging President Trump to provide Congress with details about its plans for rigorous oversight after Trump signaled when signing the bill that he would not allow the position to report to Congress without Presidential supervision.
Tester’s full exchange with Mnuchin and Powell can be found HERE.