In a blatant display of disrespect for the law, President Trump announced his intention to ignore a key oversight provision in the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill. The bill, which Trump signed himself into law on Friday, creates a special inspector general who is tasked with auditing and investigating the ~$500 billion in loans for corporations that will be dispersed by the Treasury Department. Under the bill, the inspector general is supposed to be able to notify Congress without delay should any government agency refuse to provide information that is needed to conduct oversight of the corporate loans.
However, in a statement issued after signing the bill, Trump announced he would not allow the inspector general to report to Congress without presidential supervision.
The New York Times reported,
Trump suggested that under his own understanding of his constitutional powers as president, he can gag the special inspector general for pandemic recovery, known by the acronym S.I.G.P.R., and keep information from Congress. […]New York Times
The signing statement also challenged several other provisions in the bill, including one requiring consultation with Congress about who should be the staff leaders of a newly formed executive branch committee charged with conducting oversight of the government’s response to the pandemic.New York Times
Democrats have stated Trumps announcement was not all that surprising; having already expressed concern that the near half trillion dollars of taxpayer money will turn into nothing more than a Wall Street slush fund. On MSNBC, House Speaker Pelosi attempted to assure that, “Congress will exercise its oversight”; going on to further explain that the House plans to appoint a panel that will look at the loans as well.
The $500 billion dollar program that the inspector general is supposed to look over was the biggest point of contention between Republican and Democratic lawmakers throughout the coronavirus bill’s negotiation process. Lawmakers biggest concerns were the broad authority in which the Treasury department had at deciding the disbursements of funds.
The inspector general provision is intended to work as a means of accountability; without it proper oversight is becomes a lot harder. And considering since business once again got the bulk of the bailout over the people, its more than necessary to know how this money is being dispersed/spent.