Trump’s SBA Pick is Well-Received by Senate Confirmation Committee

Published: January 25, 2017

President TrumpSmall BusinessSBA

President Trump’s pick to head the Small Business Administration (SBA) faced a receptive audience during her confirmation hearing.

The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held its hearing to consider the nomination of Linda E. McMahon to be Administrator of the Small Business Administration.

McMahon, the former CEO for the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and two-time U.S. Senate candidate in Connecticut, was picked by President Trump back in December. The committee is chaired by Sen. James Risch (R-ID) and its Ranking Member is Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH.)

What would set the tone for the rest of the hearing, McMahon was introduced and endorsed by both Democrat US Senators to whom she had lost her two Senate races, Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy.

Each member of the committee questioned McMahon on a range of topics, from budget to priorities, but the general tone was very cordial and never particularly confrontational.

  • Areas of focus or questioning from the committee members included:
  • McMahon’s first priority – When asked what her first priority is in her mind, McMahon responded that she would look at SBA’s disaster response readiness posture to ensure it can quickly and most effectively support small businesses affected by crises, citing hurricane Sandy’s impacts.
  • Budget – At one point later in the hearing, Sheehan asked if McMahon would be an advocate for SBA’s budget in the administration, to which McMahon responded “absolutely.” Later, Sheehan also raised the issue of reported plans for program cuts, citing a Heritage Foundation blueprint for the new Administration, but McMahon was not given an opportunity to respond.
  • Cutting Programs – When questioned about whether she would look to cut any programs McMahon spoke to looking at all program areas to see what is working (to support/expand), what’s duplicative (to consider consolidating), and what’s not working (to fix or reduce/eliminate).
  • Advocating for Small Business – The SBA Office of Advocacy came up throughout the hearing. Senators expressed the view that it’s been neglected and needs attention, to which McMahon agreed and expressed her desire to be a strong advocate for small businesses at all levels, which was one of her major themes throughout the hearing.
  • Regulation – The impact of various regulations (and overregulation) on small business was a major line of questioning and concern among the committee members. McMahon
  • Tools for Small Business – Improving small business tools got emphasized by several senators, one calling out FedBizOps as an example of existing tools that were difficult to use. McMahon wants to make sure the available tools are simpler and easier to use.
  • Contract Bundling – Concern was raised by Sen. Carding that agencies bungling contracts to reduce the number of bids to evaluate or contracts to award can effectively shut out small businesses from competing. McMahan said she wants to look at the practice and how to keep it from squeezing out small businesses from these competitions, repeating her commitment to be an advocate for small business in government contracting.
  • Mentoring – In response to many of the issues and challenges to small businesses raised by committee members McMahon coupled her desire for greater advocacy with support for greater mentoring opportunities for small businesses, especially those that fall into the traditionally disadvantaged categories, to support entrepreneurship and their ability to navigate the complexities of federal contracting.

A vote is expected next week, according to Risch. Given that several committee members on both sides of the political isle said “you’ll be confirmed” throughout the hearing, McMahon’s prospects look favorable.