Representative Ayanna Pressley calls for racial data on coronavirus-related business loans
Rep. Ayanna Pressley says she and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus are pushing the Treasury Department to collect racial data on people who receive small business loans to keep their employees on the payroll.
Under the CARES law passed last month, $ 349 billion in potentially repayable loans has been distributed through private banks to companies with fewer than 500 employees who have suffered financial losses due to the pandemic. The Massachusetts congressman acknowledged that existing fair loan laws apply to spending, but said racial and ethnic data is needed to ensure the program is delivered fairly.
“I’m pushing for this racial data collection when it comes to who lenders lend to. What gets measured gets done, ”she said in an episode of WGBH Basic black airs at 7:30 p.m. on Friday evening. “And therefore having this data and this transparency in real time will allow us to correct the situation. This will likely offer sobering confirmation of a lack (of parity) of loans and grants to minority small businesses. “
Pressley said that she, Senator Kamala Harris of California and Representative Gregory Meeks of New York, all members of the Black Caucus, “have aggressively lobbied Sec. (Steven) Mnuchin to give more transparency “on the racial makeup of borrowers but” that has not happened to date. They did not respond.
Citing the persistent problems minority businesses face in securing loans, these members of Congress and 80 others sent a letter last week to Mnuchin and SBA administrator Jovita Carranza, demanding that racial and ethnic data be compiled.
The Treasury Department press service did not respond to an email requesting a response.
The CARES Act provided $ 10 million for state minority-owned business development agencies, Pressley said, so that they could “play a role in technical assistance by ensuring that our businesses know what they are doing. was available and to what they were entitled “. I don’t have an MBDA.
Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, told the weekly public affairs program that his office provides free legal assistance to companies who wish to apply for a loan.
Pressley criticized a rule issued by the Small Business Administration after the law was passed, excluding business owners with criminal records.
“Do you know how many restaurateurs I know, beauty salons, barbers, who have a criminal record? ” she said. “Why are they ineligible? They contribute to our tax base and to our economy.
Additional legislation President Trump signed on Friday authorizes an additional $ 310 billion in small business loans. The first tranche of loans was quickly exhausted.
Pressley said she had unsuccessfully sought a dedicated funding pool for minority businesses, but would continue to push for this type of set-aside.
“Our minority businesses don’t need loans, they need grants. I will fight for grants, ”she said.
In the meantime, she urged minority businesses to act quickly to apply for loans under the latest law and to “apply, apply, apply.”