© Victoria Sarno Jordan
The Senate on Tuesday cleared pro wrestling magnate Linda McMahon to lead the Small Business Administration (SBA).
McMahon, the World Wrestling Entertainment co-founder and former CEO, was approved by an 81-19 vote. She needed a simple majority vote to be confirmed.
Despite her lack of government experience, McMahon found bipartisan support, clearing through the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee with only Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) voting against her.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer tees up key Thursday vote on debt deal House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE (R-Ky.) praised McMahon ahead of the vote, predicting that she would be able to use her background to help bolster small businesses.
“McMahon, who built a small company from the ground up, understands the many challenges small businesses can face,” he said. “She certainly come a long way from sharing a desk with her husband and leasing a typewriter.”
Sens. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyFive things to know about Russia's troop buildup near Ukraine Senate Democrat says he will 'settle' for less aggressive gun control reform 'because that will save lives' Ernst on Russian buildup on Ukraine border: 'We must prepare for the worst' MORE (D-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) — whom McMahon unsuccessfully ran against in 2012 and 2010, respectively — both introduced her during her confirmation hearing.
McMahon faced friendly questions from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle during her hearing.
During questioning from Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenBiden tries to tamp down tensions with Putin call Biden administration resists tougher Russia sanctions in Congress GOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions MORE (D-N.H.), McMahon said she supported keeping the SBA as a standalone agency rather than folding it into the Department of Commerce — a fear sparked by her previous campaign comments about wanting to get rid of duplicative programs.
Shaheen, the top Democrat on the small business panel, said after the vote that she was “pleased to hear that Mrs. McMahon will serve as a passionate advocate for small businesses and that she believes the SBA should continue as a Cabinet-level, standalone agency."
Members of the committee also pressed McMahon on a variety of issues, including how she would tackle Native American issues, help young entrepreneurs and alleviate the burdens of overregulation.
McMahon touted her business experience and her role in helping build up her family business during the hearing.
“Small businesses have had some tough blows in the last decade,” McMahon said in her opening remarks. “I know what it’s like to take a hit.”
When the McMahons went public with WWE in 1999, the company had $251.5 million in annual revenue and 276 full-time employees. By 2015 it had grown to $659 million in revenue, and as of February 2016 had 840 employees, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.