President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says he raised M in March Rosie O’Donnell predicts Trump will ‘lose by a landslide’ in November Treasury Department releases .9 billion in payroll support for airlines MORE said Tuesday that he is going to ask large businesses and institutions like Harvard University to return money that they received as part of a coronavirus relief package.
“I’m going to request it,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday, singling out the Ivy League school. “Harvard is going to pay back the money. They shouldn’t be taking it.”
“I’m not going to mention any other names but when I saw Harvard, they have one of the largest endowments anywhere in the country, maybe in the world. They’re going to pay back the money,” the president continued.
Trump was answering a question about money issued through a small business loan program established by the third coronavirus relief package signed into law last month. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has come under scrutiny amid revelations that major restaurant chains, hotels and other big businesses were able to tap into funds meant for businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
The PPP, initially funded at $350 billion, ran out of money last week. The Senate on Tuesday passed a bill to replenish the program’s coffers.
The $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package that established the PPP also separately allocated billions to support higher education institutions and reports surfaced last week that Harvard would receive over $8 million in funding.
Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinPelosi: Negotiators ‘down to the fine print’ on coronavirus relief package Treasury Department releases .9 billion in payroll support for airlines Lawmakers struggle to reach deal on new COVID relief package MORE told reporters at Tuesday’s briefing that the Treasury Department would be issuing guidance on the certification that businesses need to meet in order to qualify for the PPP loans.
Shake Shack, a major burger chain, announced Monday it would return $10 million it received through the program.
“We have over a million companies that have received this with less than 10 workers. There is very broad participation in really small business. I will comment there have been some big businesses that have taken these loans. I was pleased to see that Shake Shack returned the money,” Mnuchin said. “The intent of this was not for big public companies that have access to capital.”
Mnuchin did not mention Harvard specifically but the president did shortly thereafter, noting that the university received relief funding. Harvard did not receive funding through the PPP.
Mnuchin also said he wanted to give companies the “benefit of the doubt” by assuming they didn’t understand the requirements but warned of consequences for large businesses that take advantage of the program.
Asked to expand on what those consequences could be, Mnuchin did not provide any specifics.
“We’re going to put up very clear guidance so that people understand what the certification is, what it means if you are a big company,” Mnuchin said.
Some have called for reform to the program, run by the Small Business Administration, in order to ensure that the funds go to small businesses in need.