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GOP congressmen reap millions in federal loans for personal car dealerships

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fairly difficult
All three Republicans abstained from or voted against legislation that would have added transparency to the program
While President Biden's CARES Act has in many ways proven a lifeline for thousands of businesses struggling to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 crisis, the PPP loan program, coordinated by the Small Business Administration (SBA), has also been the subject of great controversy, with many critics arguing that its provisions were abused by massive corporations that hardly needed the extra boost.

Back in December, The New York Times reported that just 1% of the businesses that received federal COVID-19 relief raked in over a quarter of the total loan amounts disbursed. "The money," the Times wrote, "was shared unevenly, with the biggest sums going to a sliver of the companies in need." Roughly 600 large businesses received maximum loans amounts of $10 million. Even public companies with massive cash reserves – like Ruth's Chris, Shake Shack, and AutoNation – took in PPP loans, casting doubt over the program's ability to fairly distribute aid.

The program, however, faced it's perhaps worst reputational blow even months before that report, when it was revealed that scores of lawmakers (and their families) received millions in loans for their own personal businesses, even when these same lawmakers may have had a hand in writing the program's provisions. To boot, some of these lawmakers opposed legislation that would have added to the program's transparency, potentially allowing them to benefit from undue federal aid behind the curtain.

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According to a Sludge report , at least 28 members of Congress (or their spouses) benefited from some $27 million in small business loans. Some of these members include Reps. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., Kevin Hern, R-Okla., Greg Pence, R-Ind., and Carol Miller, R-W.Va.

One of these lawmakers, Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., received federal loans ranging between $150,000 and $350,000 for his various car dealerships, according to…
Jon Skolnik
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