Sen. Rand Paul accused a Biden administration official Wednesday of “stonewalling” efforts to determine why the abortion chain Planned Parenthood received COVID-19 relief funding meant for small businesses.
During a Senate Small Business Committee hearing, the Kentucky Republican asked U.S. Small Business Administration leader Isabel Guzman why her agency still has not given Congress documents about the Planned Parenthood loans after a year of repeated requests.
“Do you believe the taxpayer has a right to know how you spend their money?” Paul asked, according to a video of the hearing published by Forbes.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress approved small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to help struggling small businesses. The Trump administration made it clear that Planned Parenthood, a billion-dollar abortion chain with nearly 16,000 employees, did not qualify for the loans.
Later, however, Republicans discovered that Planned Parenthood had received taxpayer funding from the program anyway.
Paul, a leading pro-life senator, expressed frustration that taxpayers still do not have answers about why Guzman and her agency decided to give the money to Planned Parenthood even though it was not eligible.
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“So there never was a discussion one day … It just sort of happened and there’s no discussion, meaning no deliberation, of a major policy,” Paul said. “The Trump administration said this is illegal because Planned Parenthood is so closely and tightly controlled, these do not qualify as individual small businesses, they are a big business.”
Guzman responded by saying the Trump administration did not issue a formal policy about the matter.
“There was no policy or law or anything that the Trump administration put forward. There was a preliminary determination letter,” she said.
But Paul expressed skepticism, saying her agency’s decision to defy the directive was “not a small thing.”
“Are you telling me that that was reversed with no discussion and no paper trail, and there exists no paper at the Small Business Association that explains or codifies the deliberative process of how you changed your mind on this?” he asked.
And the agency did change its mind, he continued, pointing to letters that the Small Business Administration sent asking Planned Parenthood to return the money.
When Paul asked Guzman if the abortion chain returned any of the money and if her agency later sent it back, she did not answer the question directly, instead saying she “can’t speak to any specific loans.”
Guzman said she believes they have been transparent about the matter, but Paul disagreed and accused her agency of “stonewalling” their repeated requests for documents.
“We want the documents to see how Planned Parenthood argued they were eligible for these loans,” he said. “The Trump administration said they weren’t, they said they were. … You have not been transparent with us.”
During the pandemic, the Small Business Administration approved about $80 million to Planned Parenthood in COVID-19 relief funding for small businesses. The Trump administration told Planned Parenthood to return the funds in 2020, but later, under the Biden administration, two more Planned Parenthood affiliates were approved for a second round of funding despite their ineligibility in the program.
Paul and other pro-life Republican leaders have been demanding answers about the funding for more than a year with little success.
“We have not received the requested information or a formal response from you,” Paul and other lawmakers wrote to the agency last May. “In fact, since our April 15 letter to you, SBA approved PPP loans for at least two additional PPFA affiliates according to the most recent public data posted to the Agency’s website. This includes a $10 million dollar loan, the maximum loan amount, to a PPFA affiliate just last week. This is unacceptable. As members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, we expect transparency and cooperation with requests for information from your agency.”