By Asif Husain
The writer is president of the Montgomery County Muslim Council.
For five consecutive committee hearings since spring, the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship has been unable to discuss and put to vote the nomination of Dilawar Syed as deputy administrator for the Small Business Administration. Why?
Mr. Syed’s nomination has become a testing ground, a type of staring contest to see who will blink first between Democrats and Republicans in order to wield power with Republicans on the Senate Small Business Committee refusing to show up for a vote.
Maryland’s own senior senator, Ben Cardin (D), as chair of the Senate’s Small Business Committee has done a fabulous job in navigating the numerous illegitimate objections to Syed’s nomination, staying the course, and maintaining steadfast support and continuously advocating for Dilawar Syed’s confirmation to the SBA.
Sen. Cardin and his Democratic colleagues on the Senate’s Small Business Committee must not relent and must continue to advocate for Syed’s confirmation to the SBA.
The confirmation process for Dilawar Syed has been a microcosm of today’s U.S. political landscape – bringing up numerous unfounded objections for the sake of obstruction. His qualifications for this role are impeccable, having been a serial entrepreneur and leading national small business causes.
These qualifications have been acknowledged by members of the Senate across both aisles. However, this current boycott by Republicans suggests xenophobia and racism, based on Syed’s Southeast Asian heritage and faith. Civil rights groups from all facets – including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Congress, Muslim Public Affairs Council, National Urban League, Southern Poverty Law Center, the United Methodist Church and many others – have all publicly and forcefully called on the committee to bring the confirmation to a vote.
As the U.S. Senate’s session comes to an end in 2021, it is imperative that Sen. Cardin once again bring Syed’s confirmation to a vote in committee. Furthermore, should this nomination expire at the end of this current congressional session, the Biden administration must re-submit this nomination.
The obstructionism being employed by one half of the Senate’s Small Business Committee must not be rewarded, and accordingly as chair of this committee, Sen. Cardin must not relent on his continued support and advocacy of Dilawar Syed for the post of deputy administrator for the Small Business Administration.