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Trump admin asks Planned Parenthood to return CARES Act relief funds

Planned Parenthood affiliates recently received letters from the Small Business Administration informing them that they were not qualified for relief funds from the CARES Act's Paycheck Protection Program (https://www.npr.org/2020/05/21/860410536/trump-administration-to-planned-parenthood-return-coronavirus-relief-funds). Planned Parenthood has applied for over $80 million in relief among various affiliates throughout the nation. The Paycheck Protection Program was intended to support small businesses and non-profits with fewer than 500 employees. The SBA argues that since it is a national organization, Planned Parenthood does not qualify as a small business, even if the separate affiliates are somewhat autonomous.


Planned Parenthood is not the first organization asked to return funds. Restaurants such as Shake Shack and Ruth's Chris have returned millions of dollars in relief funds, and the Los Angeles Lakes also returned their funds. If organizations fail to return the funds they must instead provide documentation justifying why they are eligible. If neither requirement is fulfilled then the organization could face civil or criminal penalties.


This is not the first confrontation between Planned Parenthood and the Trump administration. Earlier this year Trump spoke at the March for Life, becoming the first president to do so since its inception in 1974 (one year after Roe v. Wade). During the 2016 election one of Trump's campaign pillars was to defund Planned Parenthood and since then he has worked to block funding and limit access to patients under government funded programs.


Trump is not alone as other Republicans have also called for Planned Parenthood to return relief checks. Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) hopes to begin an open investigation to see how Planned Parenthood was cleared to receive the funds in the first place. While the government was justified in requesting funds back from publicly traded companies, could the political nature of these acts bring more controversy and scrutiny to Trump and his supporters?

Image Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

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