- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 16, 2021

President Biden said Tuesday that small businesses looking for additional relief need more watchdogs to ensure that the money is going to the people who actually need it.

Tim Eichinger, a small brewery owner, asked Mr. Biden what he would do to make loans more readily accessible to businesses like his.

“Change it drastically — first of all by making sure we have inspectors general,” Mr. Biden said at a CNN town hall in Milwaukee.

Mr. Biden said he’s “tired” of talking about former President Donald Trump.

“But the last administration spent a lot of time talking about how there was no need for [an] inspector general,” he said. “You’re going to see an investigation showing that a lot of this was fraudulent, where it went.”

“The money, I guarantee you, is going to go to small businesses,” he said.

The Paycheck Protection Program, authorized last year as part of an earlier coronavirus relief package, attracted some unwanted attention when news came out that major corporations had secured money. Small businesses reported difficulty accessing the funds when the program was getting started.

House Democrats say Mr. Biden‘s $1.9 trillion relief proposal does include money earmarked for oversight over how some of the funds are spent.

It also includes some additional money for the PPP program and expands the eligibility of the program to include certain nonprofit groups.

The Democrat-led House is aiming to pass its version of Mr. Biden’s package by the end of the month.

Lawmakers want to act before the current $300-per-week boost in unemployment benefits that was included as part of a December package expires in mid-March.

House Democrats’ plan includes a $400-per-week bump in unemployment benefits through the end of August — one month earlier than Mr. Biden had called for in his plan.

The package also includes direct payments of up to $1,400 for millions of Americans, $170 billion for K-12 schools and colleges, and $60 billion for coronavirus vaccine, testing, contact tracing, and mitigation efforts.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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