In a largely bipartisan vote, the Senate confirmed Isabel Guzman to run the federal agency that provides support to small businesses and entrepreneurs.
WASHINGTON (CN) — The Senate voted 81-17 Tuesday to confirm President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Small Business Administration.
The vote was largely bipartisan as many Republicans supported Isabel Guzman’s nomination, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst and Missouri Senator Roy Blunt.
Guzman comes from a family of small business owners, with her father owning a small veterinary clinic. She previously worked as the SBA’s deputy chief of staff in President Barack Obama’s administration and also led California’s Office of Business and Economic Development.
From the Senate floor Tuesday, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer noted the SBA has been in the national spotlight lately, helping to oversee pandemic-related aid programs over the past year.
Those coronavirus relief programs managed by the agency – like the Paycheck Protection Program, passed last year during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic – will distribute over $1 trillion to American small businesses, nonprofits and religious institutions.
The agency and Guzman will play prominent roles in doling out the latest round of small business funding in the American Rescue Plan, Schumer said.
“For many Americans, opening and operating a business is their own part of the American dream,” the New York Democrat said. “I have every confidence that under Ms. Guzman’s leadership, the SBA will help small business owners hold onto their dreams until our economy comes roaring back.”
Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar emphasized the importance of small businesses and their role in employing nearly half of all private sector employees, simultaneously voicing her support for Guzman’s nomination from the Senate floor. She said Covid-19 dramatically impacted mom-and-pop stores and other local businesses.
Klobuchar said that while the latest stimulus package was a light at the end of the tunnel for Americans looking beyond the darkness of the Covid-19 pandemic, Guzman’s hand in guiding that policy through her role as SBA administrator will help restore America’s business economy.
“She understands the need for greater equity and loan distribution and has shown commitment to transparency and accurate loan data,” Klobuchar said. “She has made clear that she will make the Paycheck Protection Program more accessible to businesses that have traditionally not had the access to banking relationships needed to secure loans and grants.”
Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin also voiced his support for Guzman Tuesday, saying the role of the SBA administrator is essential. He noted the agency has already approved more than 7.5 million Paycheck Protection Program loans worth more than $687 billion and said Guzman’s experience would lend itself to seamless oversight of those funds for struggling businesses.
“During her nomination hearing last month, Mrs. Guzman demonstrated her commitment to ensuring the SBA relief programs, as well as its traditional loan programs, are implemented equitably and they will help small businesses and Black, Latino, Native, rural and other underserved communities overcome the historic barriers they face,” Cardin said. “She is committed to ensuring the agency has the right systems, technology and operating procedures in place to advance the mission and reach all of our small businesses.”