Senate Republicans are stonewalling Biden nominees for political reasons, according to GOP Sen. Jim Risch- including GOP Sen. Jim Risch.

“Spot the difference at today’s Small Business Committee,” wrote Sen. Mazie Hirono in a caption to the above photo posted to Twitter November 17, 2021. “Left: Dems are ready to get the job done. Right: the ‘pull yourself up by your boot strap’ party didn’t show up for work, again.”

Republican Senator James Risch (R-Idaho) is one of the few Republicans willing to be perfectly honest about why so many Biden nominees are still mired in the confirmation process.

Risch, ranking Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, had some sharp words for his fellow Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley on the subject recently.

“I have been a critic of this since I started on the Foreign Relations Committee,” Risch complained at a recent forum, according to Politico. “I was a governor. I understand you have to have a team in place in order to govern.”

“This is a political matter,” Risch admitted baldly, in answer to a direct question about the efforts of Republican Senators to stymie Biden nominees.

“If your criticism is, ‘we need more ambassadors out there,’ I couldn’t agree with you more,” said Risch, likely referring to the huge backlog of nominees for diplomatic posts in Africa.

In spite of the current crisis in Ethiopia and Sudan, not a single ambassador to Africa has been confirmed since Biden took office.

Foreign Affairs nominees are fortunate to suddenly have such a champion in Risch. If obstructionist Republican Senators like Cruz and Hawley get enough push-back from members of their own party, they may stop playing politics for the Republican base, stop fundraising for their respective 2024 presidential bids, and finally get to work.

According to Risch, he has been energetically attempting to push 51 stalled foreign-policy nominations through the Senate all these many months since Biden took office.

Unfortunately, Risch has been just as energetically blocking a Biden nominee to the Small Business Administration.

Dilawar Syed, a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur and prominent member of the California business community, was nominated by President Joe Biden way back in March. On five separate occasions now, Senate Republicans- including Marco Rubio and Rand Paul- have refused to even attend Mr. Syed’s confirmation hearing, taking the extraordinary step of denying a quorum and preventing a vote.

By doing so, Senate Republicans are blocking the process from moving forward- leaving struggling U.S. small businesses facing a tough holiday season amid an inflationary spike, a labor shortage and serious supply-chain issues without as much help as they could be getting from the SBA.

U.S. small business owners might not be in as dire need as the citizens of Sudan and Ethiopia, but they are in grave danger nonetheless. So too is the U.S. economy; it depends heavily on small business owners to employ millions of people and contribute billions to the GDP every year.

Chief among Mr. Syed’s opponents in the Republican Party, oddly enough, has been Senator Jim Risch.

Not only has he participated in the blockade against Dilawar Syed, Risch was most directly responsible for the worst smear the candidate has faced to date.

Risch is correct about one thing, however; many of these blockades of Biden nominees, if not all, are politically motivated. As such, public attacks against these candidates have fallen, not along the lines of some obscure policy disagreement, but along some very well-trodden lines in the culture war.

On the Foreign Affairs Committee, Senate Republicans are invoking the specters of the Afghanistan withdrawal and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline; with Biden’s Small Business Administration nominee, it has been Planned Parenthood and anti-Israel bias.

Dilawar Syed would, if confirmed, become the highest-ranking Muslim-American official in the Biden Administration, and indeed in history.

A whisper campaign- started by Risch and his staff- insinuated, without evidence, that Mr. Syed could not be trusted to deal fairly with Jewish-owned small businesses.

The smear was met with an instant and overwhelming outcry from the Jewish community, which decried the attack against Mr.Syed as religious discrimination.

That the accusation was dispelled must be of limited comfort to Dilawar Syed, who should never have been subjected to such an attack in the first place. That it was levied at all is difficult to defend against accusations of discrimination, as was an equally unacceptable insinuation that Mr. Syed’s birthplace of Pakistan- somehow- disqualifies him for public service.

This is America; we don’t impose religious, loyalty, or “purity” tests on nominees for cabinet posts.

While Senator Risch is to be congratulated for noticing the negative impact caused by politically-motivated blockades of Biden’s foreign affairs nominees, that doesn’t absolve Risch of responsibility for his role in keeping an equally important nominee from the Small Business Administration.

If Sen. Jim Risch is asking Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley to end their blockade, will he end his own politically-motivated blockade against Dilawar Syed and the SBA?

Are small businesses not as important as ambassador posts?

Or does Sen. Risch simply hold the nomination of an American Muslim to a different standard?

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)