Dilawar Syed SBA nomination delay by Republican anti-muslim politics

The Small Business Administration (SBA) rescued hundreds and thousands of small businesses like mine and millions of employees by timely distributing PPP loans. My heart is heavy for the tremendous loss of life inflicted by the pandemic, but we survived as a nation.

 We are not out of the woods yet, and the economy is still vulnerable, evidenced by the inflation and supply-chain issues we are facing. Again, issues that disproportionately affect small businesses.

In this backdrop, I am deeply concerned by the hold-up in confirming Dilawar Syed, President Biden’s nominee for Small Business Adminstration (SBA) deputy administrator.

He is uniquely qualified to help lead SBA as it continues to deliver aid to small businesses. Syed brings 20 years of experience leading companies that are driving major impact across the technology, healthcare, and business services sectors.

As a business owner and a taxpayer, it’s painful to see an eminently qualified public servant and an entrepreneur like Syed stalled by Senate Republicans. Syed should be have been confirmed six months ago. Instead, he has yet to receive a vote in the committee.

Syed’s nomination is currently held-up in the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship as the Republican members have continued their months-long blockade by impeding a quorum.

One of the Republicans on this committee is our very own Sen. Todd Young. Whereas Sen. Young and I disagree on politics and policy, I have the utmost respect for him as a Hoosier political leader. 

He boycotted Syed’s vote on five occasions, led by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), whose state is right now devastated by tornadoes where businesses likely could use the help of someone like Syed. 

A July tweet by the Senate Small Business Committee, said it would not allow a vote until “the SBA takes action to recover the wrongfully acquired PPP funds by Planned Parenthood entities.”

More: Rand Paul, a ‘stalwart defender’ of religious freedom, sets the record straight | Opinion

It appears they are holding up a qualified candidate for political gain.

If confirmed, Syed would become the highest-ranking Muslim in the Biden administration. There are insinuations that his nomination is being blocked because of religious prejudice.

Eight Republican committee members last year raised concerns about Syed’s involvment in Emgage Action, which they describe as “vocally” anti-Israel.  Syed was a member of the poltical action commmittee, which, according to its website, seeks to “promote just policy guided by our faith and reflective of our Muslim American identity.”

Yet, Syed is supported by Jewish organizations, including the American Jewish Committee

Referring to the lack of valid concerns raised on Syed’s nomination, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) recently said on Twitter, “This has the stench of religious bigotry”.

I refuse to believe that a religious test could be used as a weapon to  disqualify a qualified nominee at this point in our nation’s history.  Syed has built a stellar record as a civic leader and advocate for entrepreneurs in minority, rural, and other underserved communities—a vital asset for SBA in the years ahead as the agency invests in the entrepreneurial ecosystems in those communities.

Syed’s nomination is backed by more than 230 civic, government, higher education, and business leaders and organization, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Black Chambers, the Small Business Investor Alliance, and Small Business Roundtable.

I urge Sen. Young to show up for the next committee meeting. Vote your conscience, but at least be present so Syed’s nomination can proceed for a full Senate vote. Small businesses and America need you to stand up for the American way and show up.

Azher Khan is chairman of Calderon Textiles in Indianapolis. He lives in Zionsville.