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Walmart Returns $12.6 Million Government Loan It Never Asked For

The retail giant is giving back the federal aid it received as sales boom during pandemic.
Walmart store.jpg

Walmart is returning $12.6 million that it received unsolicited through the CARES Act, which is a fund established to help health care providers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Stay-at-home guidelines—and the nearly nationwide lockdown—has made grocery shopping one of the few remaining essential activities that every American needs to do in order to survive. As a result, Walmart has seen a sharp increase in sales over the past two months, and has even made good on a pledge to hire 200,000 new associates to help handle the uptick in business.

So, it seems curious that they'd receive over 12 million dollars from the U.S. government in federal aid. But, to be clear, this is not money that they asked or applied to receive.

The CARES Act is the $2.1 trillion bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump in late March. Walmart reportedly received the cash through the $50 billion Provider Relief Fund, which is distributed by the Health and Human Services.

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In a statement provided to Fox Business, Walmart denied requesting support from a fund designed for health care workers on the front lines. "Walmart did not request support from the Provider Relief Fund to get through this crisis," a Walmart spokesperson told FOX Business. "The Fund is intended to help hospitals and frontline medical providers, so we quickly contacted the Department of Health and Human Services about the disbursement and returned the funds."

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Federal aid from the CARES Act has not been without some predictable controversy. At least seven national restaurant chains were shamed into returning millions of dollars from the Paycheck Protection Program designed for small businesses.

In a letter sent to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Chief Seema Verma last week, Walmart asked to be excluded from future disbursements. Fox Business reports that Bruce Harris, Walmart's vice president of federal government affairs wrote: "We recognize your automatic disbursement of funds through the additional CARES Act funding triggered payment. Respectfully, we would request detailed information on the process to decline the payments, as we will be returning these funds to HHS."

Walmart is not immune to the challenges brought forth by the coronavirus outbreak, and has even had to deal with one wrongful death lawsuit from the estate of an associate who succumbed to COVID-19. But, the world's largest retailer instituted numerous policies to protect shoppers and associates alike. Some have been well received, while others? Not so much.

In any case, Walmart is the latest to return the federal aid it's received, joining the likes of these 7 major restaurants that gave millions of dollars back as well.

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