He will continue to do so with or without a desk at the Small Business Administration. Can Republicans blocking his confirmation say the same?
Senate Republicans have already thrown everything but the kitchen sink at President Joe Biden’s pick for deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration.
They haven’t done so due to any shortcomings on the part of the candidate. Successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur Dilawar Syed has long been a champion of small businesses.
For the past 20 years, and especially over the past year, Mr. Syed has been an indispensable member of the California business community. In various capacities- working with the California Governor’s office, and the Obama Administration before that, and volunteering on his own initiative- Syed has already been doing exactly what Joe Biden wants him to do at the SBA:
Help connect struggling small business owners- in particular those in underserved communities- with the Small Business Administration COVID-19 assistance they need.
Except Dilawar Syed hasn’t been able to do this important work at the Small Business Administration. In all the long months since his nomination way back in March, he has instead languished in the confirmation process.
It’s not as if he isn’t qualified; if anything Dilawar Syed is over-qualified. Neither is it because he has not received enough votes to be confirmed.
There hasn’t even been a vote.
Instead, Senate Republicans have refused to even show up. On five separate occasions now, they have taken the extraordinary step of preventing a quorum and stopping the process completely by absenting themselves.
Their reasons for doing this have changed with the weather since March, under the auspice of everything from insinuations that smack of discrimination to objections just as far afield.
Pakistan-born Dilawar Syed is a prominent American Muslim and has been a well-respected member of the Asian-American community for decades. Frail attempts to malign him with accusations of a bias against Israel fell flat under a thunderous outpouring of support from the Jewish community.
Jewish political, faith, and professional organizations came out of the woodwork- some taking positions on a political nominee for the very first time- to stand beside their fellow religious minority.
The Jewish community- Republican and Democrat, it would seem- does not appreciate being used as a political football. Accusations of anti-Israel bias without merit are not for Senate Republicans to throw around for the purposes of obstructing the Biden Administration, or for any other reason.
The latest feeble objection of Senate Republicans- that previous SBA program loans to Planned Parenthood will need to be repaid before Republicans will advance a vote on Dilawar Syed- is nothing more than an attempt to legislate via obstructionism.
The SBA loans to organizations affiliated with Planned Parenthood, in addition to having nothing whatsoever to do with Mr. Syed’s nomination- were made in accordance with the law. If Senate Republicans don’t like the laws as they are written, or believe the laws weren’t followed to the letter, they’ve chosen the correct career path to change all that.
Blocking the nomination of Dilawar Syed, however, will do nothing whatsoever to recover potentially misappropriated funds, if indeed that is the concern of Senate Republicans. If there are legitimate legal issues about SBA distributions to Planned Parenthood, Republican Senators have both the responsibility and the recourse to do something about it.
Until that time, Senate Republicans have a duty to small business owners. Indulging in a political whisper campaign instead is un-American, unconstitutional, and inconsistent with the fundamentals of our democracy.
It is also a dereliction of civic duty.
Attempting to tarnish the good reputation of Dilawar Syed by linking his name to Planned Parenthood is reckless and dishonest.
Like 70% of all Americans, Dilawar Syed is a moderate; neither a far-left progressive nor a staunch conservative. But by raising this objection to Planned Parenthood and its affiliates receiving funds from the Small Business Administration under COVID-19 relief programs, and explicitly tying that objection to the nomination of Dilawar Syed, Republicans no doubt hope to perpetuate the notion that Syed, if confirmed, will lavish SBA funds on Planned Parenthood.
This is more than a bit underhanded, not to mention disingenuous. The tactic obscures the facts that some of the loans in question happened under the Trump Administration- hardly well known for supporting Planned Parenthood- and that Dilawar Syed had nothing whatever to do with any of it.
Twice now, Senate Republicans have chosen an emotional appeal over a rational one during this confirmation process. Invoking the twin specters of Planned Parenthood and anti-Israel bias might be seen as red meat for the Republican base, but Republicans are making a terrible mistake playing partisan politics with Mr. Syed’s nomination.
If Republicans really want to win back the House of Representatives and retake control of the Senate in 2022, they are going to need a great many more votes than the Republican base can provide.
Ultra-conservative, dyed-in-the-wool Republican voters may enjoy the spectator sport of needlessly delaying Biden nominees; independent and swing voters are far less impressed.
Senate Republicans are missing a tremendous opportunity to help U.S. small businesses and deliver for the American people. Dilawar Syed and the SBA stand ready; all Republicans need do is get out of the way.
Accusations of an anti-Israel bias are so baseless as to be insulting to the Jewish community, as evidenced by the overwhelming response from that quarter. Dilawar Syed isn’t going to support Planned Parenthood with SBA funds unduly, either.
Rather, he has shown himself to be someone who will deal diligently, equitably, and legally with any company in need of and eligible for assistance from the SBA.
What more could Republican Senators possibly want in a candidate?
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)