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Senate confirms Isabel Guzman as Small Business Administration chief

The Senate confirmed the Director of California's Office of the Small Business Advocate Isabel Guzman to lead the Small Business Administration Tuesday. Photo courtesy of State of California
The Senate confirmed the Director of California's Office of the Small Business Advocate Isabel Guzman to lead the Small Business Administration Tuesday. Photo courtesy of State of California

March 16 (UPI) -- The Senate approved Isabel Guzman's nomination Tuesday to lead the Small Business Administration. Her nomination was confirmed by an 81-17 vote.

President Joe Biden nominated her for the position in January, and her confirmation comes as small businesses struggle to survive amid the pandemic.

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As director of California's Office of the Small Business Advocate, Guzman has been in charge of small businesses COVID-19 relief for the country's largest state. Now, she will oversee the rollout the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program for small-business loan relief.

"I have every confidence that under Ms. Guzman's leadership, the SBA will help small business owners hold on to their dreams until the economy comes roaring back," Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told CNBC earlier Tuesday.

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As of March 7, more than 7.5 million PPP loans had been approved, totaling in excess of $687 billion, since the pandemic began, SBA data shows. This year, more than 2.4 million loans have been approved, totaling over $164.9 billion.

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The deadline to apply for PPP loans is March 31.

Guzman previously worked as SBA's deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to the administrator at the SBA during President Barack Obama's administration.

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The University of Pennsylvania graduate, with an economics degree, also worked as a small business owner and adviser to ProAmerica Bank.

Guzman comes from a family of small business owners, with her father owning a small veterinary clinic. She was confirmed with largely bipartisan support, according to Courthouse News.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., were among the Republicans who supported her nomination.

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She also received support from the highest ranking Republican on the House Small Business Committee, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., Roll Call reported.

"As America begins to safely open up for business, Democrats must work across the aisle to responsibly provide targeted relief for small businesses that need it most," Luetkemeyer said in a statement to CQ Roll Call.

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