Joni Ernst

Questioning Ms. McMahon during SBA Confirmation Hearing - Jan. 24, 2017

Joni Ernst
January 24, 2017— Washington, D.C.
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ERNST: Thank you Mr. Chair, and thank you Ms. McMahon for being here today.

I appreciate the time you took to sit down with me, and many other members of this committee.

I want to say a special thank you as well to senators Blumenthal and Murphy for being here today. Because I think so many times we get caught up in partisanship that we forget that there are many issues that we are very passionate about that share a bipartisan nature. So I want to thank them as well for being here to support you today.

I know that a lot of people on this committee like to work on these things together like regulatory reform, tax reform, and others. So I want to thank them for that.

Now, we sat down in my office and talked about a number of issues and one of the issues that I brought up as we sat down was a project that I’ve been working on over the last year, and it’s legislation that gives small businesses a stronger voice in the regulatory process, and it’s called the Prove It Act.

The legislation did pass out of this committee last year and we worked really hard with the folks at SBA in the Obama administration to get their input and feedback because the goal is to make sure that the bill is bipartisan and that it is a success.

So, we did talk about it and the purpose of the Prove It Act is to strengthen the voice of small business owners and provide incentives to agencies to improve the quality of their certifications and analysis when they’re actually writing a rule, and simply put, the Prove It Act says if there is a battle of analysis between different agencies on the economic impacts of a rule than there should be a third party that will step in, review the facts and then issue an objective assessment.

And as you know, the Small Business Office of Advocacy testified in front of this committee last year because they were in disagreement about the analysis that EPA and the Corps—the Corps of Engineers—had completed on the WOTUS rule and believed that the rule would have significant economic impact on small businesses.

And as well, with this Prove It Act, there were a number of organizations that supported it: the NFIB, the Chamber, and the Women Impacting Public Policy. All of those organizations supported it.

And can I get a commitment from you to work with me on this legislation and help implement it, especially given the desire by our President to make sure that we are reducing regulatory reform, especially on small businesses?

MCMAHON: Senator Ernst, thank you very much, and I did enjoy our meeting, and when you talked to me about this legislation, I thought ‘Wow, isn’t that just a really common sense thing?’ And I think we just need more common sense in government. If you’ve got two sides that can’t agree, you have a referee, you have the third party that comes in. And I liked also what you were telling me about the bill, which is that it actually would make the agencies work together before it had to become like a public event and help with drafting the legislation, so I think that it’s a very good piece of legislation that I would like to learn more about, and look forward to working with you to make sure we can support our small businesses.

ERNST: Great. Thank you. I appreciate that so much.

And then, on a related topic too: what are your goals on the first few months—should you be confirmed—what are your goals in the first few months at the SBA?

MCMAHON: There’s so many things the look at and obviously we want to be mentors to our entrepreneurs. We want to grow and create jobs, but if I had to walk in the first day and someone were to say to me, “What is the first thing you really want to look at today?” I would say I want to take a look at our disaster relief program.

Because disasters don’t pick a time they happen, and we need to be prepared for those disasters. I don’t know how effective they’ve been. I know that when Sandy hit a few years ago—Hurricane Sandy—you know the devastation of the East Coast and in my state of Connecticut and New Jersey there was a delay in time of response from SBA.

I don’t know if that’s because it was a massive storm, it went so far, resources weren’t there, but we need to get ready for that.

Just two nights ago tornadoes in Georgia that killed 19 people. So we have to be ready for disaster relief. When our small businesses are put out of business for a while, you know the economy suffers because they’re out of business. We need to get those funds to them if they’re out of their homes, to make those direct loans to them in their homes so they can get back and functioning.

So that is a real passion that I think we really need to take a strong look at.

ERNST: I think that’s really great. Iowa is not immune to those natural disasters, and in Iowa 97% of our jobs come from small businesses.

So thank you very much Mrs. McMahon.

Thank you Mr. Chair.

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