A lack of oversight for more than $2 trillion in COVID-19 spending approved by Congress is creating uncertainty about whether relief programs are working as planned, adding a new layer of complications to the next coronavirus package.
The three independent oversight panels set up by Congress in the bipartisan CARES Act almost four months ago have all encountered serious obstacles — sometimes because of resistance from the White House, other times due to drafting oversights in the authorizing legislation.
As a result, lawmakers and the public may not have a full understanding of how coronavirus relief aid is being spent until after the election. In the meantime, Congress and the White House are moving toward another pandemic bill that’s expected to carry a price tag of at least $1 trillion.
One of the latest flashpoints to emerge is implementation of the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), an initiative designed to extend forgivable loans to small businesses during the pandemic to keep workers on the payroll.