Yesterday’s confirmation hearing by the U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee of Linda McMahon to become the next Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration took on a sense of bipartisan camaraderie and jocular commentary that has not been evident in other confirmation hearings for Trump Administration cabinet positions.
McMahon, a former CEO of Stamford-based World Wrestling Entertainment and the sole Connecticut resident designated for President Trump’s cabinet, was introduced to the committee by two of her former Democratic political rivals: U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, whom she challenged in the 2010 and 2012 senatorial campaigns, respectively. And the relatively rare bipartisan image of McMahon flanked by Murphy and Blumenthal was difficult to miss, with Idaho Republican Sen. James Risch, the committee’s chairman, joking, “We will advise the Guinness Book of World Records about this event and get it duly noted.”
“This visual is going to be a little amusing and surprising to folks in Connecticut who watched the three of us duke it out over two long Senate campaigns,” Murphy said. “Politics can’t work if political grudges never die.”
McMahon answered questions related to streamlining the SBA’s internal operations and the agency’s focus on intellectual property protection. When queried about deregulation, she offered a cautionary approach on changing existing rules and mandates, noting, “We have to know their negative and positive impact also that we can change them or enhance them.”
McMahon also departed from the new president’s dismissive skepticism on climate change. In an exchange with Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Edward Markey, she acknowledged learning about data on the warming of the ocean off the Northeastern states and its impact on the local fishing industry, adding, “Those are very real statistics that I want to learn more about.”
However, the appearance of McMahon’s son-in-law, Paul Michael Levesque – better known to WWE audiences as Triple H – and his wife, WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, at the hearing inspired a good-natured exchange with New Jersey Democrat Sen. Cory Booker. “I want to also just say when your daughter and son-in-law stood up, just want to say for the record, that your daughter is far more fierce and intimidating than your son-in-law,” Booker observed, inspiring laughter in the committee chamber.
McMahon, however, had the last laugh on the subject. “Stephanie can give you a mean hip-toss,” she told Booker.