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Senate Banking Committee

Senator Elizabeth Warren wants to know why some businesses that are getting federal funding are not required to keep their workers employed.

Congress gave Treasury the authority to dole out $500 billion to shore up mid-sized and large corporations. But unlike the Payroll Protection Program and other small-business lending facilities, which forgive loans when businesses keep employees on their payroll, Treasury did not stipulate anything about big businesses having to do the same.

Elizabeth Warren was displeased, to say the least.

“You’re boosting your Wall Street buddies, and you are leaving the American people behind,” she said. “You were given the authority to determine the terms … and those term sheets do not require that a single corporation getting millions of dollars in taxpayer money retain one job.”

Mnuchin called that a “very unfair characterization” and noted “different facilities have different requirements.” Warren argued Mnuchin has the “specific authority” to determine the terms of the loans for mid-sized and big corporations.

Although Mnuchin said the Trump administration’s No. 1 priority is keeping people working — and he noted certain restrictions on employee compensation, dividends and buybacks for companies receiving loans — he wouldn’t commit to any specific payroll protections associated with big-business loans.

“We expect people to use their best efforts to support jobs,” Mnuchin said.

Warren noted that’s far from a requirement.

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