WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - While Planned Parenthood promises to keep its abortion business open, the Trump administration is preventing it from receiving funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
According to The Daily Signal, a senior administration official says that the program is to be used for "saving jobs at small businesses," rather than funding abortion. The official noted that while everyone may not share President Trump's "pro-life beliefs," the official said there is a consensus that abortion should not be subsidized at public expense. The official said, "It's clear that the abortion industry shouldn't be able to qualify for those funds, which are desperately needed by small businesses."
The program's initial $350 billion fund, established in legislation passed March 30 by the U.S. House and signed by the president, was depleted April 16. A number of corporations that had accepted the funds, such as the Shake Shack fast-food chain, later returned the money.
PPP received another $310 billion in new funding in a bill signed into law by Trump. As of last week, more than 1.6 million businesses have received forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Trump said that the Small Business Administration (SBA) had processed more loans in 14 days than it had in the previous 14 years.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was designed to keep small businesses afloat that were shuttered or affected otherwise by the government's response to the current pandemic. Small retailers, restaurants and other businesses have shut their doors in response to government orders to help contain the spread of the Wuhan virus, while there has been a steep drop in business revenue overall because Americans are losing their jobs and staying home and cutting their spending.
Under the PPP loan forgiveness plan, businesses that have fewer than 500 employees must spend 75% on payroll within eight weeks of receipt of the federal funds. The remainder may be spent on mortgage payments, rent and utilities. The other 25% can be spent on rent, utilities and mortgage payments. Under the terms, businesses need pay only a 1% interest rate and six months before any principal is due.
Reportedly, the second phase of PPP may also be nearly exhausted. When Trump was asked about any more such direct payments, he did not answer directly but did say he would support a payroll income tax cut. "I would love to see that happen," he said. "It would be an incentive for people to come back from work."
According to The Daily Signal, programs administered by SBA preclude large organizations such as Planned Parenthood, which according to the report has over 16,000 employees nationwide.
The biggest provider of abortions has affiliates across the country that are ostensibly independent of each other, but SBA regulations consider them as affiliates of the national organization and thus considered one large employer. It is, therefore, according to the report, that Planned Parenthood is not eligible for PPP.
According to Forbes magazine, Planned Parenthood Federation of America earned $1.78 billion in 2017.
In contrast, faith-based organizations such as Catholic dioceses, parishes and charities may be eligible for PPP funds.
An April 3 statement by the SBA clarified a new rule on the eligibility of religious groups for PPP and economic injury loans during the pandemic. The new rules regarding affiliation and PPP clarify that while a parish and a diocese may be linked together on religious grounds, they are not necessarily considered as one large entity for the purposes of the program.
According to the SBA, faith-based nonprofits applying for the PPP may not be penalized because they employ only persons who adhere to the religious tenets of the organization. The document said that every loan recipient "will retain its independence, autonomy, right of expression, religious character and authority over its governance."
The SBA claims that it:
will not apply its nondiscrimination regulations in a way that imposes substantial burdens on the religious exercise of faith-based loan recipients, such as by applying those regulations to the performance of church ordinances, sacraments, or religious practices, unless such application is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest.
It said that PPP loans can be used to pay the salaries of ministers and staff. However, the rules require that recipients may not discriminate when providing goods and accommodations to the public. Some charities, therefore, may be ruled ineligible if they do not provide some services in accordance with their beliefs. This might include faith-based adoption agencies that refuse to place children with same-sex couples.
As long as groups affiliated with the Catholic Church have their own distinct employer identification number and 500 or fewer employees, they may apply. According to a report by the Catholic News Agency, most Catholic dioceses may be eligible.