Jovita Carranza confirmed as SBA administrator after nine-month delay

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The Senate has confirmed Jovita Carranza as the 36th administrator of the Small Business Administration — nine months after she was nominated by President Trump.

Carranza, who was approved on an 88-5 vote, had been Treasurer of the United States since 2017. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also tapped her to oversee the agency’s Office of Consumer Policy and serve on the Community Development Financial Institution Fund’s Community Development Advisory Board.

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who specializes in federal appointments, called the level of support Carranza received notable for an era characterized by party-line votes. “It’s hard to get a vote like that in this Senate,” Tobias said Tuesday. “It’s a sign both sides of the aisle trust her judgement.”

A Chicago native, Carranza began her career at UPS in 1976, starting as a part-time night-shift box handler and working her way up to president of Latin American and Caribbean operations. She left UPS to serve as the SBA’s deputy administrator from December 2006 to January 2009.

In testimony last month before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Carranza pledged to work on increasing access to capital for women and minority entrepreneurs. The committee advanced her nomination to the full Senate in a 17-2 vote on Dec. 18.

Carranza succeeds Christopher Pilkerton, who was acting administrator for the past nine months. Trump’s first SBA administrator, Linda McMahon, resigned in April.

Despite the extended gap between her nomination, which was announced April 5, and confirmation, Carranza received strong bipartisan support.

“Treasurer Carranza’s decades of experience in business and government will be an asset to SBA as it seeks to better meet the needs of America’s entrepreneurs,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., the ranking minority member on the Small Business and Entrepreneurship committee, said in a press release.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the committee’s chairman, said during remarks on the Senate floor that he was “happy that our first votes not only of this session but of this decade are going to be focused on supporting small businesses.”

Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., who chairs the House Small Business Committee, called Carranza’s confirmation “a positive step,” though she criticized the nine-month wait. “For too many months, key leadership positions at SBA have been left vacant, undermining the agency’s efficiency and success,” she said in a press release.

Tobias, however, said the delay is emblematic of an increasingly flawed confirmation process. “It’s gotten very partisan, very political,” he said. “It’s hard to get through it.”

News of Carranza’s confirmation was also welcomed by small-business advocates.

“We are glad the U.S. Senate voted today to confirm Jovita Carranza,” Small Business Majority CEO John Arensmeyer said in a press release.

"We're particularly glad the President chose a woman of color whom we hope will connect with a rapidly growing segment of entrepreneurs," Arensmeyer added. "Between 2007 and 2018, the number of women-owned businesses increased by 58% in the United States, and women are now the majority owners of 40% of the country’s businesses.”

The SBA's portfolio of small-business and disaster loans and debentures totaled $143.5 billion at Sept. 30.

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