Senate Republicans have blocked a qualified nominee to the Small Business Admin at the worst possible time.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash.

Nominees to cabinet positions are fairly straightforward, even if the process of confirmation seldom is.

Nominees can really be only two things, all told; qualified or unqualified. They are either suitable for the position; or they aren’t. A vote is held; if the nominee receives enough votes of confidence, they’re in.

Politics matter on Capitol Hill, of course. “Elections have consequences,” as they say. As such, to the winner of the previous presidential election go the spoils of nominating candidates for all-important cabinet positions.

Also as such- with the country being as evenly divided as it is- the minority party still has plenty of leverage with regards to confirming candidates.

The nominee, however qualified and/or suitable for the post still has to receive enough votes to be confirmed. Votes for nominees don’t always go along party lines; far from it.

Often, the candidates are evaluated on their own merits, rather than assessed as an avatar standing in for their entire party, platform and everyone on it. Other times, the process gets a little more contentious.

Seldom, as in never, does the process fail to move forward at all because the minority party stonewalls a confirmation hearing by refusing to even countenance a vote.

As of this week, Republican Senators have now done so on five separate occasions.

A vote, even a firm “No” vote might have been preferable. At least the process of confirming a candidate for the SBA could have continued. If the current proposed candidate is indeed unacceptable, Republicans would have perhaps done better to vote no and move on. Another candidate could have then been nominated.

Instead, the process has stalled for eight long months, and the important position of #2 in charge at the SBA has remained unnecessarily empty.

That this refusal to staff the SBA hurts U.S. small businesses is something Senate Republicans refuse to acknowledge.

U.S. small businesses, those which have managed to survive the past 18-months of COVID-19, are now facing even more mounting challenges heading into the holiday season, including labor shortages, supply chain issues and the rising costs of doing business.

They need help.

Big corporations have teams of accountants, tax attorneys, and government consultants to help them secure whatever COVID-19 assistance is available. Small businesses have the Small Business Administration.

Without it, some of the major household names consumers around the world know and love today might not have survived their own up-and-coming phase. Great American success stories like Costco and Chobani had the post-2008 recession to deal with; small businesses in 2021 face even greater threats.

The SBA has been doing incredible work over the past year, but there remains much to be done. Without a full leadership roster at the SBA, small business owners aren’t getting all the support they deserve from lawmakers who have asked a great deal of them over the past 18-months.

That many small businesses, especially those in economically disadvantaged areas, should need help digging out from beneath the mountain of COVID-19 should be of no surprise to anyone, least of all to U.S. Senators from Florida and Tennessee.

President Joe Biden’s nominee for deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration is a well-qualified, successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur with a proven track-record as a job creator. Dilawar Syed is also a great American success story.

On a student visa, Mr. Syed moved to the U.S. from Pakistan to pursue a dream of entrepreneurship, philanthropy and public service. In the decades since, he has distinguished himself many times over within the business community, both as a successful tech entrepreneur and as a civil servant helping small business through the California Governor’s office, the Obama Administration, and on a volunteer basis.

For over a year, Mr. Syed has been doing exactly what President Biden would very much like him to do at the SBA: Help struggling small businesses apply for and receive whatever help may be available through COVID-19 relief programs.

Dilawar Syed is a well-respected member of the Asian-American community and will, if confirmed, become the highest-ranking Muslim-American official in the Biden Administration, and indeed in history.

That Senate Republicans have blocked his confirmation in this particular way, by refusing to let the matter come to a vote and stopping the process completely, has drawn charges of needless obstructionism and even discrimination from many quarters.

For some reason, Mr. Syed has been forced to field objections ranging along a number of cultural hot-button lines, often only tangentially related to the candidate himself, if at all. Attempts to undermine his nomination with a whisper-campaign alleging anti-Israel bias fell suspiciously flat amid an outpouring of public support from the Jewish community.

The latest objection to Dilawar Syed’s nomination- that SBA COVID-19 relief loans to Planned Parenthood in 2020 and 2021 will need to be paid back before he can be confirmed- is perhaps the weakest of all, as the still-nominee was is no way responsible for loans made long before his confirmation process even began, including during the Trump Administration.

One party playing politics against the other, purely for the purposes of obstruction may be business as usual in Washington. Unfortunately for U.S. small business owners this holiday season, it won’t be business as usual this holiday season for them.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)