Trump Plans to Keep Small Business Administration in the Cabinet, Nominee Says

Small Business Administration Administrator-designate, former wrestling entertainment executive, Linda McMahon testifies on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Small Business Administration Administrator-designate, former wrestling entertainment executive, Linda McMahon testifies on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. AP Photo/Alex Brandon

President Trump’s nominee to head the Cabinet-level Small Business Administration, former pro-wrestling industry executive Linda McMahon, on Tuesday disavowed an earlier flirtation with a 2010 Obama administration proposal to merge that agency into the Commerce Department.

At a confirmation hearing of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, McMahon emphasized her background and ambitions to be a job creator since her unsuccessful 2010 and 2012 campaigns for U.S. Senate.

“In my travels throughout Connecticut in 2010 and 2012, I met with more than 500 small business owners, touring their shops, restaurants, offices and factories and sharing ideas during roundtable discussions. Job growth was a pillar of my campaign, and because small businesses are responsible for half of all private-sector jobs and the majority of new jobs, they were my focus,” she said.

McMahon said she also has promoted female entrepreneurship as co-founder and CEO of a startup Women's Leadership LIVE.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., asked her to clarify a position she took during the 2010 campaign on merging the SBA with the Commerce Department, saying the proposal had “become a major concern for businesses in my home state who believe their voice is already not loud enough.”

MaMahon said she had read Government Accountability Office lists for reducing duplicative programs, and knew that Obama was looking to merge some agencies. “I wasn’t focused on SBA or Commerce. I was focused on the concept of merging agencies or reducing duplicative programs so that we could reduce those costs,” she said. “I am a firm believer that SBA needs to be a stand-alone agency and I’m very proud President Trump has kept it as a Cabinet post.”

The 2010 Obama plan was billed as creating a new department “with a laser-like focus on helping businesses create jobs,” according to an OMB official at the time. The president would have one chief executive officer to ask about program effectiveness and foment a “greater sense of accountability” while facilitating a “whole of government” approach to trade policy.

These would have included core business and trade components of the Commerce Department, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.  But that reorganization never gained traction in the Republican Congress.

The National Small Business Association on Tuesday urged the Senate to approve McMahon’s nomination. “We look forward to working with Mrs. McMahon throughout the confirmation process and beyond,” stated NSBA Chairman Pedro Alfonso of Dynamic Concepts Inc. “Our members routinely vote for tax reform, regulatory restraint and access to capital as top priorities—all issues for which Mrs. McMahon expressed a keen understanding during her hearing.”

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