The Senate Small Business Committee will try to vote the nomination of cofounder and former CEO of WWE Linda McMahon as head of the Small Business Administration by next week. It is a cabinet-level post.
McMahon said she was all for keeping the SBA, clarifying a past statement that she favored merging it into the Department of Commerce.
That is according to Committee chairman James Risch (R-Idaho). In nominating McMahon, President Trump said she had "helped grow WWE from a modest 13-person operation to a publicly traded global enterprise with more than 800 employees in offices worldwide."
The committee held a confirmation hearing for the former wrestling empire top exec on Tuesday. McMahon was introduced by Connecticut Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Christopher Murphy (WWE is based in Stamford), both of whom Risch pointed out had defeated McMahon in her runs for the senate from the state.
Blumenthal conceded he and McMahon had their differences but praised her for helping veterans and women "realize their own dreams and opportunities." He said he hoped SBA would continue to focus on both those.
Murphy conceded that the optics of their support for a former bruising campaign opponent was curious, but he said he was there to support McMahon not because they had magically become "of one mind" but because he said he was confident she would give good, sound council to President Trump when it comes to policy affecting small businesses.
McMahon told the panel that as an entrepreneur, she has shared the experiences of small businesses that are "the engines of our national economy" while putting food on the table or braces on their children's teeth.
She said she would advocate on her behalf if confirmed, which she is expected to be.
She said she was proud of growing WWE into a global business and knew what it was like to "take a risk on an idea."
McMahon was asked about her past statement—while running for the Senate—that she thought the SBA could be merged into the Department of Commerce. She "clarified" that as a candidate she favored getting rid of duplicative programs and President Obama was contemplating doing such merging. She said when she was asked if she favored merging SBA into Commerce, she says she wasn't focused on those particular agencies but on the concept of reducing costs by combining agencies.
"I am a firm believer that the SBA should be a stand-alone agency," she told the panel.