Maria Contreras-Sweet was confirmed last week as the new head of the Small Business Administration. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

A review of the biggest small business and startup stories from the past week, with a special focus on Washington.

SBA finally ushers in a new leader: The Senate has easily confirmed Maria Contreras-Sweet as the agency’s new administrator in a voice vote, handing the reins to the former banking executive and public official from Los Angeles. (WP)

House slams agency’s budget proposal: Members of the House Small Business Committee last week voted unanimously in favor of revising the SBA’s budget proposal, with several criticizing the agency for spending too much on unproven programs. (WP)

Democrats push for employer mandate change:Five Senate Democrats are now backing a proposal to raise the exemption limit for the health care law’s employer mandate from firms with fewer than 50 workers to those with fewer than 100. (JT)

New trade pacts could boost small firms: The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership aim to make exporting easier by cutting tariffs and reducing paperwork, which could help many small businesses. (AP)

Small banks at a disadvantage: The nation’s five largest banks have on average paid almost a third of a percentage point less on top-rated debt than smaller rivals, according to a new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. (WP)

Drum roll, please: The SBA has revealed its 2014 Small Business Persons of the Year award winners, including our local honorees: Stephanie Novak Hau in Maryland, Kevin Knight in Virginia and LaKeshia Grant in the District. (SBA)

Senators, small employers stump for wage hike: Several Senate Democrats were joined by small business owners from around the country this week in Washington to rally support for a bump in the federal minimum wage. (UPI)

Big business left small businesses out in the cold: A Salt Lake City contruction company has agreed to pay the federal government nearly $1 million to settle claims that the firm failed to deliver on subcontracting promises to a nearby small business. (FOX)

Austin, District share vision:Capital Factory, a start-up incubator in Austin, Tex., and 1776, its couterpart in the nation’s capital, are both trying to build the nation’s next technology hub, but they’re taking different paths to get there. (WP)

What are you keeping an eye on this week? Please let us know below.

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