Biden’s stalled Small Business nominee gets a spot at State

Associated Press/Eric Risberg

President Biden’s choice to serve as deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) has been given a position at the State Department after his nomination was blocked for months by Senate Republicans.

The State Department announced on Tuesday that Dilawar Syed would serve as the new special representative for commercial and business affairs, a role that is not subject to Senate confirmation. 

A White House spokesman said that Syed is still a nominee for the No. 2 position at SBA and urged Republicans to allow a vote on him.

“We urge the GOP members of the Small Business Committee to do their job, show up and hold an up or down vote for Dilawar,” White House deputy press secretary Chris Meagher said. “He is extensively qualified at a time when the SBA is trying to help small businesses recover from the impacts of the pandemic.”

Still, the appointment seemingly signals that his nomination isn’t moving anytime soon. The State Department said that Syed in his new role “will lead efforts to support the export activities of U.S. companies through approved commercial advocacy and to create and advance a level playing field for U.S. workers and companies overseas.”

“Special Representative Syed brings a strong background in business and entrepreneurship, having built global enterprises in the fields of technology, health care, and business services,” the State Department said.

Biden nominated Syed for the role last March — nearly a year ago. If confirmed, Syed would be the highest-ranking Muslim in the Biden administration.

Republicans on the Senate Small Business Committee repeatedly skipped meetings to advance his nomination last year, thereby preventing the committee from having a quorum as needed.

Republicans have pledged to boycott the nominee over Paycheck Protection Program loans going to Planned Parenthood affiliates. The SBA oversees the loan program. Some Republican members of the committee also previously criticized Syed’s ties to a Muslim advocacy organization.

Syed’s nomination had to be resubmitted earlier this year so that the Senate could consider him in the 2022 calendar year.

The Senate has been slow to confirm Biden’s nominees when compared with past presidents, in large part due to Republican efforts to stall nominees, frustrating the White House and Senate Democrats. 

The Senate confirmed a sizable group of ambassadors at the end of last year using floor time after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) blocked ambassador picks in an effort to force Biden to impose congressionally mandated sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. 

Tags Biden nominee Dilawar Syed Joe Biden Ted Cruz

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