Report

Congressional Oversight Commission: Fourth Report

Bharat Ramamurti

Bharat Ramamurti, an attorney and political advisor who is serving as a member of the COVID-19 Congressional Oversight Commission.

In its fourth report, the Commission makes recommendations on the implementation of the Main Street Lending Program, which had so far issued loans totaling only $496.8 million.

The Congressional Oversight Commission is one of several safeguards built into the CARES Act that aim to ensure the government’s actions justify the measure’s $2.2 trillion price tag. Its role is to report on how Treasury and the Federal Reserve are spending the $500 billion set aside to support companies and state and local governments, and how those choices affect the financial well-being of Americans and the broader economy.

In its fourth report, released in late August 2020, the Commission focuses on the implementation of the Main Street Lending Program by the Federal Reserve and the Treasury, which had so far issued loans totaling only $496.8 million. The report discusses the Commission's five observations and suggestions related to the Main Street Lending Program:

(1) Faster implementation would help improve the Main Street Lending Program for borrowers.

(2) Borrowers are unfamiliar with the Main Street Lending Program.

(3) The Commission heard testimony regarding a number of proposals for modifying the Main Street Lending Program. The issues involved are complex and multi-faceted.

(4) The Federal Reserve and the Treasury should explore the implications of whether banks are using the Main Street Lending Program to make loans they would not have made anyway.

(5) The impact of the nonprofit Main Street facilities remains to be seen.

The Congressional Oversight Commission was created by the CARES Act stimulus law to oversee economic stability efforts by the Treasury and Federal Reserve. It has two members appointed by the leadership of each party, and a chairperson appointed by both. As of late July, the Commission had released three reports and lacked an appointed chair, staff, or a budget. Read the Commission's first report here, second report here, and third report here.