Rubio: “And just as the SBA was critical in building the technologies to win the Cold War and the Space Race, it must be at the center of our efforts to compete with this Chinese hostility.”
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, delivered a floor speech before the Senate voted to confirm Jovita Carranza to be the Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Rubio’s remarks as prepared are below.
Rubio: “As the Senate returns to open the second session of the 116th Congress, it is fitting that one of our first votes not only of this session, but of this decade, is focused on supporting American small businesses.
“In America, we tend to speak about small businesses with a sense of reverence absent in other countries.
“It’s with good reason: just under 60 million individuals are employed by the more than 30 million small businesses throughout our nation.
“These small businesses are the vital center of our economy.
“They drive our nation’s job creation, community development, and overall growth.
“Small businesses today also fuel American economic power, guaranteeing a world-renowned level of prosperity at home and enabling us to pursue the national interest abroad.
“The Small Business Administration, or SBA, plays a lead role in our success by providing our entrepreneurs and firms with necessary technical assistance and access to capital.
“Today, the Senate considers the nomination of Jovita Carranza to serve as Administrator of the SBA.
“The position of Administrator is crucial to ensuring agency efficacy and success. Additionally, the Administrator will play a pivotal role in the much needed modernization of the SBA and its many programs.
“As we move into this new decade, it is imperative that the SBA evolve to meet the needs of today’s entrepreneurs in an ever-changing, and increasingly global, business climate.
“Businesses today face a radically different economic environment than in eras past.
“Aware of these changes, policymakers are tasked with an obligation to identify goals that achieve our national interest — providing for our national defense and creating good jobs for American workers — and organize our lawmaking and material resources to achieve them.
“The last time that the SBA underwent full reauthorization was in 2000, when just 42 percent of households had Internet access, and nearly all of those were using dial-up.
“It would be six years before the iPhone’s debut, and Americans bought fewer than 10,000 hybrid electric cars annually.
“It was also the year before China became a member of the World Trade Organization.
“America’s small businesses now face an unprecedented threat from the Chinese government and Communist Party’s systematic industrial espionage and coercion, large-scale subsidies, and sweeping obstruction of market access.
“They require the resources that allow them to compete against these conditions, to operate dynamically, and to be innovative and creative.
“They need access to services and programs that better position them to support American competitiveness on an international scale, particularly given Beijing’s continued economic aggression toward our nation.
“And just as the SBA was critical in building the technologies to win the Cold War and the Space Race, it must be at the center of our efforts to compete with this Chinese hostility.
“But yesterday’s status quo is not enough.
“The agency must incorporate new and creative programming focused on spurring investment, supporting advanced manufacturing, promoting innovation, and expanding export opportunities.
“Especially against the backdrop of these growing threats to our national defense, it is important to note that innovation breakthroughs are often contingent on public-private collaboration intended to further our national security.
“Small businesses and start-ups have been historically essential to developing the technologies and commercializing the products that often come out of these partnerships.
“Unlike the Silicon Valley start-ups that venture capital firms tend to gravitate toward, these technologies require significant time and resources to finance.
“The SBA already guarantees some debt and equity investments in these companies through the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, among many others.
“To bolster America’s small businesses and meet the challenge that Beijing poses, we must increase their scope and accessibility to firms.
“By insuring financial investment in small business and start-up manufacturing, we can spur the development of a new capital market for innovation in these underserved sectors.
“America’s national development and global competitiveness will be conditional on these broad, ambitious reforms.
“While the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship continues to work toward a comprehensive reauthorization of the Small Business Act and Small Business Investment Act to these ends, the leadership and guidance of a forward-thinking SBA Administrator will be essential to this modernization process.
“As Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I am eager to see the position of Administrator be duly filled.
“On August 1, 2019, President Trump formally nominated Ms. Jovita Carranza to serve in this critical role.
“Ms. Carranza has enjoyed a long and successful career, spending many years in both the private sector and in government service.
“In 1976, she began her career at UPS as a part-time Hub Operations and Human Resources Supervisor.
“After more than 29 years of hard work and dedication, Ms. Carranza retired from UPS as the Vice-President of Air Operations.
“In December 2006, she was nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by this body to serve as the Small Business Administration’s Deputy Administrator.
“After serving in this role for two years, Ms. Carranza began working as a logistics consultant.
“Ms. Carranza was again called to government service in June of 2017 when she was named Treasurer of the United States.
“Last month, the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held a hearing to consider Ms. Carranza’s nomination before voting to favorably report her nomination to the Senate floor for consideration.
“In that hearing, Ms. Carranza showed her commitment to working with Congress on the pressing issues facing the SBA and its programs by assuring me, Ranking Member Cardin, and members of the Committee that she would:
“Address the management challenges in the Office of Investment and Innovation to ensure the programmatic integrity of its programs;
“Appear before the Committee within 90 days of her confirmation to provide an update on how she has addressed those challenges;
“Reassess a far-reaching rule governing the agency’s critical access to capital programs to ensure it will not restrict access to capital for small businesses;
“Be communicative and transparent with Congress on the subsidy models and calculations for the agency’s federal credit programs;
“Fill the backlog of staff needed to properly administer the SBA’s innovation programs;
“Ensure the proper use of federal grant dollars associated with SBA’s entrepreneurial development programs;
“Modernize the agency’s disaster loan programs and establish internal controls to better manage waste, fraud, and abuse;
“Expeditiously establish a Women-Owned Small Business certification program; and
“Provide responses to Congress on several past communications to the agency outlining proposals to aide small businesses against cyber threats.
“There is much work to be done.
“But restoring and expanding the SBA’s great historical legacy to assist American businesses and meet the international challenge at hand is crucial.
“As a Democratic candidate for president in 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy noted that ‘America can afford the initiative, the energy, and the work to bring the country’s small businesses back to sound health, to bring the economy as a whole back to healthy growth on a widely diversified, competitive base.’”
“Alongside parallel reforms like full expensing and removing the tax bias toward stock buybacks, the SBA will be at the heart of America’s national development in our own time.
“I look forward to working closely with Ms. Carranza to modernize existing programs to meet the exacting challenges at hand and work toward solutions that ensure small businesses have access to the resources they need to start, grow, and empower our nation writ large.
“I ask my colleagues to vote aye.”
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