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Senatorial Discourtesy: Biden Renominates Dilawar Syed After Republicans Blocked His Nomination 5 Times Last Year

Senatorial Discourtesy: Biden Renominates Dilawar Syed After Republicans Blocked His Nomination 5 Times Last Year

  • The GOP repeatedly denied the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship the quorum necessary to forward the tech entrepreneur’s nomination.

President Joe Biden has renominated Dilawar Syed to be Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration. He was first nominated for the position in March 2021. Since then he’s been receiving resistance from the GOP members on the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, who have been coming up with specious excuses for not voting on Syed’s nomination.

At the last meeting on Nov. 17, “every Republican member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship failed to attend a scheduled business meeting to consider Syed’s nomination,” said a press release issued by the committee. The members’ refusal to attend the meeting once again denied the committee the quorum necessary under the Senate rules to forward the nomination,” the press release said, adding that it was also “unable to consider two bipartisan disaster assistance bills. This was the fifth time the Senate Republicans blocked the nomination. 

If confirmed, Syed would become the highest-ranking Muslim official in the administration.

“Honored to be renominated by President Biden to @SBAgov,” Syed tweeted on Jn. 4. “The pandemic continues to impact small businesses in every community. If confirmed by the US Senate, I will roll up my sleeves to support entrepreneurs across America at this critical moment.”

Meanwhile, the President also renominated Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as the Ambassador to India. Garcetti had his first Senate confirmation hearing on Dec. 14, almost six months after he was nominated for the post. He is expected to have an easier confirmation compared to other Biden nominees, but he had to be renominated as his confirmation lagged. During his Senate confirmation hearing on Dec. 14, he faced “a relatively brisk confirmation,” news reports said.

The hearing also featured Donald Armin Blome as ambassador to Pakistan. 

Garcetti’s hearing was far less turbulent than other recent confirmation sessions, as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee who has challenged several other Biden nominees, was not present. He and other Senate Republicans have been holding up Biden’s nominees, creating a bottleneck of applications on Capitol Hill.

The President also renominated Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as the Ambassador to India. Garcetti had his first Senate confirmation hearing on Dec. 14, almost six months after he was nominated for the post.

The Pakistan-born Syed, a technology entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley, has built and led global organizations in various leadership roles. He served on President Obama’s White House Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) and chaired the White House Initiative on AAPIs’ Economic Growth Committee.

He was a surrogate in President Obama’s 2012 campaign and served as a member of Obama for America’s 2008 National Finance Committee. He was a member of the then California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ Policy Transition team, and in 2008 served as national co-chair of the DNC’s South Asian Leadership Council as an appointee of Gov. Howard Dean. 

Syed’s nomination is backed by more than 230 civic, government, higher education, and business leaders and organization, including former Republican New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Black Chambers, the Small Business Investor Alliance, Small Business Roundtable, the Anti-Defamation League, and the American Jewish Congress.

As the Senate Small Business Committee conducted its proceedings on Nov. 17, the AAPI Victory Fund, and CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu held a press conference on Capitol Hill in support of Syed, who is also the co-founder of the AAPI Victory Fund, the first Super PAC of its kind which focuses on mobilizing Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) eligible voters and moving them to the ballot box. 

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“Republican Senators on the Small Business Committee have repeatedly blocked Syed by refusing to show up to committee meetings, providing shifting justifications for their obstruction that have nothing to do with Syed’s qualifications for the SBA role,” said an AAPI Victory Fund press release. 

“We are alarmed at how Syed’s national origin and civic work in the Muslim American community has been used against him.”Shekar Narasimhan, co-founder of AAPI Victory Fund said the fight is about things that are now larger than just simply the SBA deputy administrator.” Joining him was Mohammad Ali, Director of Policy and Government Relations, Muslim Public Affairs Council. “Dilawar has been subject to an unjust smear campaign on the basis of his Islamic faith and Pakistani heritage. We cannot let hate and bigotry win.”

Last year, The Washington Post’s editorial board slammed the Senate Republicans for blocking Syed’s confirmation. The Post editorial board cited the reasons for the Republican resistance to Syed’s nomination. They first demanded answers on Covid-relief loans to Syed’s business, but when it was established that “the company was entitled to the SBA loans, and it paid off the debt rather than pushing for it to be forgiven as was allowed,” they moved to something else. “This time it was Syed’s association with an advocacy group that has been critical of Israel. This despite support from several prominent Jewish organizations.” 

In July, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) demanded that Syed explain his work for an organization that has engaged in anti-Semitic rhetoric. In a press release, Hawley noted that Syed previously sat on the board of an organization, Emgage Action, that has echoed the anti-Semitic remarks of Representative Ilhan Omar and others, including calling Israel an “apartheid state” and accusing Israel of “war crimes.”

A few days later, the American Jewish Committee issued a statement supporting Syed. While the AJC “does not normally take positions on nominees requiring Senate confirmation,” the statement noted that “accusations around Dilawar Syed’s nomination based on his national origin or involvement in a Muslim advocacy organization are so base and unAmerican that AJC is compelled to speak out.” The statement noted that Syed “has been an active partner of the San Francisco Jewish community,” and has “traveled to Israel with the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco and has been involved in other Muslim-Jewish dialogue efforts.”

The Post editorial board further noted that “if Republicans believe Mr. Syed should not be confirmed, they should show up, vote against him and explain why they are doing so.” Adding that “they don’t want to be on the record voting against the appointment of someone so eminently qualified, who has been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Small Business Association, the Board noted that “they take the coward’s way out.”

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