By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate
On Jan. 24, the Senate Small Business Committee held a hearing on the confirmation of Linda McMahon (former WWE CEO), to become Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA). Here are the 10 things you should know about her hearing:
- SBA is still part of the cabinet—President Obama elevated the position of SBA Administrator to cabinet level. President Trump is sticking with that change.
- Existing programs are safe…for now—When questioned by numerous senators on specific program commitments, McMahon repeatedly said that if the program is working then it should be continued.
- She will go to bat for small business in the executive branch—McMahon sees herself as the small business advocate within the executive branch, and will go to other agencies and make sure that more federal contracting opportunities are provided to small businesses.
- She will work to expand the 5% contracting goal for women—Senator Duckworth (IL), asked about the 5% goal, and McMahon expressed support for women entrepreneurs, broadly, “I have been very forthcoming in wanting women entrepreneurship to grow. And I will continue to support that, it is very near and dear to my heart.”
- She has a history working with Veterans—According to McMahon, WWE was always concerned about veterans and how to help create jobs for them. Senator Cardin (MD) discussed the Veterans Institute for Procurement (VIP) program and noted its impact and high performance.
- Look for an emphasis on mentoring—Given McMahon’s background in business mentoring, she may focus on programs that incorporate mentorship. As co-founder of Women’s Leadership LIVE, McMahon’s organization educates entrepreneurs about all facets of starting and expanding their business.
- She wants to help free small businesses from burdensome regulations—While many senators asked questions about regulatory burdens on small businesses, Senator Ernst brought up the PROVE It Act—legislation passed out of committee last session that empowers the SBA Office of Advocacy to require agencies to analyze rules for their small business impact.
- Speaking of advocacy—McMahon expressed support for expanding the independent SBA Office of Advocacy to ensure that the voice of small business is heard on federal regulations.
- She wants small businesses to participate in anticipated Infrastructure projects—When asked about promoting fair opportunities for small businesses to compete for work in the highly anticipated infrastructure plan, McMahon stated that small business participation was a given.
- Streamlining cumbersome federal contracting—McMahon expressed support for streamlining the alphabet soup of federal websites and databases like SAM and FBO.
This was a conciliatory confirmation hearing. Given the contentious nature of other confirmation hearings, it was unknown what tone McMahon’s hearing would take. But the hearing went well. Senators were polite and McMahon was responsive to concerns. With so much partisanship in Washington, it was positive to see McMahon’s interest in working with the committee—both sides.