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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Over 70% of the federal government's $349 billion small business bailout program is already spoken for, as Democrats and Republicans continue to squabble over an expansion that both sides believe is necessary.

The state of play: There is still a lot we don't know about how the existing program is operating, and possibly won't until the next pot of money is emptied.

The big question: Will there be a public database of PPP loans, which could help provide insights on efficacy and checks on fraud?

  • The Small Business Administration does typically disclose granular data for the category of loans under which PPP falls — including the number of jobs supported.
  • But the databases are static spreadsheets, not dynamic or easily searchable, and only updated annually. If that method is continued, we wouldn't learn about PPP recipients until early 2021.
  • Axios repeatedly asked SBA officials if a PPP-specific database will be forthcoming (and when), but didn't receive a direct answer.

Plus, it also could be helpful to know details of denied applications, as well as lender-approved ones that later lose SBA guarantees. Such sunlight could discourage bad actors who divert lender attention away from legitimate applicants, not to mention expose flaws whereby applicants are unfairly denied.

  • For example, there is widespread talk of venture capital and private equity fund managers applying for PPP loans, even though management fee cashflows should not have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus.

We also don't know how much money is actually out the door.

  • The SBA this morning disclosed that over 1 million applications have been approved, totaling over $247 billion from more than 4,600 lenders.
  • Crickets when it comes to how much of that $247 billion is actually in small business bank accounts, thus helping to forestall layoffs and missed financial obligations like paying utility bills. Lenders have 10 calendar days to fund from the date of loan approval, but it's unclear if things are moving faster or slower (let alone how specific lenders are performing).

The bottom line: The speed of this massive program, from conception to execution, has been lightning quick. Data disclosure, however, isn't keeping pace.

Go deeper: America's small business bailout is off to a bad start

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

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