The Senate confirms Isabel Guzman as head of the Small Business Administration who will help steer recovery from Covid

Isabel Guzman, administrator of the US Small Business Administration (SBA) nomination for US President Joe Biden, will be sworn in during a Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship hearing in Washington, DC on Wednesday, February 3, 2021.

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The Senate confirmed Isabel Guzman Tuesday as head of the Small Business Administration and tasked her with running Main Street beyond the damage caused by Covid-19.

The chamber approved her nomination with 81-17 votes.

Guzman was the director of the California office of the Small Business Advocate. She oversaw small business aid for the largest state in the country during the pandemic.

Now she will work nationwide as an SBA administrator when small businesses struggle to keep their doors open. Guzman will oversee the rollout of the paycheck protection program and other relief initiatives that have saved companies but are fraught with inefficiency and waste.

“I’m confident that the SBA, led by Ms. Guzman, will help small business owners hold onto their dreams until the economy picks up,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., earlier Tuesday.

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Since the passing of the $ 2.2 trillion CARES bill last March, the agency has administered the PPP, one of the largest amounts of aid that Congress has approved. Since its inception, the program has issued approximately $ 687 billion in inducible loans through March 7, according to the SBA. This year, approximately $ 165 billion in loans were granted.

The current time window for applying for the aid expires at the end of the month. Non-partisan lawmakers in the House and Senate have proposed a plan to extend the program by two months and give the SBA an additional 30 days to process proposals.

Despite unprecedented aid, small businesses are struggling to stay afloat under economic restraints designed to slow the spread of the virus. A CNBC / SurveyMonkey small business survey conducted in late January found that only 55% of owners believe their businesses can continue to operate for more than a year in current conditions.

In her Senate confirmation hearing last month, Guzman said she was “deeply committed to helping our country’s small businesses and entrepreneurs.”

“You are facing an unprecedented crisis and need our support to survive,” she said.

Guzman added that she will work to improve equity on small business aid distribution – a priority for the Biden administration. Critics of the early stages of PPP lending last year said the government had not done enough to bring money to the smallest businesses and firms owned by women and people of color.

Guzman became the director of the California office of Small Business Advocate in 2019. During President Barack Obama’s second term, she was deputy chief of staff at the SBA.

The Senate has approved 18 of President Joe Biden’s cabinet candidates, most recently Deb Haaland as Home Secretary.

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