Senate Small Business Committee Republicans Playing Politics with American Small Businesses
Republicans on Committee Boycott Key Vote on Critical SBA Nominee as Millions of Small Businesses Struggle to Recover from Pandemic
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Republicans today boycotted a vote on the nomination of Dilawar Syed to be Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The boycott prevented the Committee from achieving the quorum needed to proceed with a vote on the nomination.
The SBA Deputy Administrator is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the agency, including helping to usher billions of dollars in desperately needed economic relief aid to struggling entrepreneurs. The position has remained vacant for more than 3 years due to the Trump Administration’s failure to put forward a nominee.
Committee Chair Ben Cardin (D-Md.) issued the following statement in response:
“The SBA continues to support millions of American small businesses navigating the economic effects of the pandemic, so it is disappointing that my Republican colleagues on the committee are playing politics with this critical nomination. SBA has gone without a full leadership team for more than 3 years, including during the worst days of the pandemic, and this needless delay shows no concern for the millions of small businesses still relying on SBA’s support to survive COVID-19.
“Dilawar Syed has spent decades building and scaling successful businesses, as well as advocating for underserved small businesses. The accusations that my Republican colleagues have levied against Mr. Syed are without merit and are a blatant attempt to score political points rather than do their job on behalf of American small businesses.”
Syed has had a stellar 20-year career in business—leading companies that are still driving major impact across the technology, healthcare, and business services sectors. While he’s been a business leader, Syed has also built a record as a civic leader and advocate for entrepreneurs in Black, Latino, Asian, Indigenous, rural, and other underserved communities.
Syed’s nomination is backed by more than 30 civic, government, higher education, and business leaders and organization, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Black Chambers, Small Business Roundtable, the Anti-Defamation League, and the American Jewish Congress.
Small Business Roundtable: “On behalf of the Small Business Roundtable (SBR), a coalition of leading small business and entrepreneurship organizations dedicated to advancing policy, securing access, and promoting inclusion to benefit the businesses at the heart of the American economy, the undersigned write to endorse the nomination of Mr. Dilawar Syed to be the next Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “Dilawar Syed has an impressive background as an entrepreneur and understands the operational challenges of scaling a start-up to meet increased market demand. Those skills and management acumen are needed at a time when the SBA is pursuing its mission of running its core programs, executing on the forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, meeting high demand for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs), and providing operational consistency, transparency, and certainty for two new grant programs (Shuttered Venue Operator Grants (SVOGs) and Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) grants).”
National Small Business Association: “Mr. Syed brings with him a wealth of entrepreneurial experience that will help him hone the tools of the SBA for today’s small-business needs. He has faced the realworld struggles of growing a new venture, and he has also served a client-base made up of small businesses, learning what they need and how best to serve them.”
U.S. Black Chambers: “Importantly, Mr. Syed is a critical, essential ally of the Black business community. As Black entrepreneurs and small business owners navigate the road to recovery beyond the coronavirus pandemic, we require effective, inclusive-minded supporters, like Mr. Syed to advance the initiatives outlined in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and forthcoming initiatives and reforms seeking to uplift small businesses.”
Small Business Majority Founder and CEO John Arensmeyer: “Mr. Syed offers innovative insights and solutions that will better support the small business ecosystem, particularly during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. His career speaks to his commitment to diverse small businesses and his belief that they are capable of growth and expansion, reinforcing their role as our economic drivers.”
National Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (National ACE) CEO and President Chilling Tong and Board Chair Karen Eng: “Mr. Syed served on the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. In this role, he both represented the voice of AAPIs and led the White House’s engagement with entrepreneurs and innovators across the country. Mr. Syed’s confirmation would be significant for the AAPI community.”
American Jewish Congress (AJCongress): “As American Jews, we understand what it’s like to be a new immigrant from a religious minority community. One of us was born in Germany in a displaced persons camp for Holocaust survivors; the other was born in Pakistan. Both of us are now proud American Jews, benefitting from the greatness of our adopted homeland. The struggles for new immigrants from religious minority communities are real and the work to advance is often twice as hard for pioneers like Mr. Syed. We congratulate Mr. Syed on his success, and want to recognize that, if he is confirmed, he will become the highest ranking American Muslim in the Biden Administration, an achievement to be celebrated by all Americans.”
Anti-Defamation League (ADL): “ADL challenges any negative conclusion of Mr. Syed’s candidacy because of his association with Emgage.”
The Association that represents Small Business Development Centers: “Mr. Syed has also been a strong advocate and supporter of small business in California. Our networks in California have praised his efforts to mentor and support struggling small businesses as a member of the Entrepreneurship Task Force of California Office of the Small Business advocate.”
American Jewish Committee (AJC): “However, accusations around Dilawar Syed's nomination based on his national origin or involvement in a Muslim advocacy organization are so base and unamerican that AJC is compelled to speak out. The unsupported accusation that somehow Jewish businesses or those with ties to Israel may not fare as well under Syed's leadership in the Small Business Administration (SBA) has no factual grounding.”
Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) San Francisco, Former President Jerilyn Gelt: “I traveled to Israel with Dilawar in 2014; he came to the country with an open heart and open mind. He is pro-Israel and believes in the country’s right to exist alongside it’s neighbors.”
The National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders: “The country’s small businesses are counting on strong leadership at the SBA to deliver this critical recovery, and this effort requires skilled leadership in the top positions at SBA. We therefore urge you to confirm Mr. Syed as Deputy Administrator as quickly as possible.”
American Pakistani Chamber of Commerce, Inc., President- Khalid Muneer: “Dilawar is a person of high integrity who understands what entrepreneurs are facing as they start and grow their businesses. He also understands the large difference between high-growth, scalable companies and slower growth, self-sustaining businesses – both of which form the backbone of our economy in the United States but require vastly different support.”
City of Philadelphia Commerce Director Michael Rashid: “That AI background, coupled with Mr. Syed’s successes in entrepreneurship community economic development, will make him an important member of your team.”
California State Assemblyman Marc Berman (CA District 24): “Dilawar has been to Israel with the San Francisco-based JCRC - an agency with longstanding roots in my district - and proudly cultivated ties to the country. He has deep ties to the Bay Area pro-Israel and Jewish communities, and has worked with JCRC staff in forging stronger JewishMuslim dialogue. In fact, the JCRC is one of the leading agencies working with California State Legislators, including me, to challenge the BDS movement and anti-normalization efforts against Israel when they arise. No BDS supporter would go to Israel and continue working with such an esteemed organization.”
Independent Community Bankers of America: “Dilawar Syed’s prior experience as President of several businesses, his civic engagement on behalf of small businesses and economic growth in California, and his prior administrative experience, make him highly qualified to serve as SBA Deputy Administrator.”
Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of St. Louis Board Chair Deborah Price and Executive Director Rori Picker Neiss: “We are writing today to urge you to not oppose based on accusations of antisemitism or anti-Zionism the nomination of Dilawar Syed to be the Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Association (SBA).
Mayor of San Jose, California Sam Liccardo: “We immediately recognized Mr. Syed’s expertise and passion for small business, so he led the initiative’s work on small business, creating innovative solutions for revitalizing our many neighborhood commercial districts, supporting the transition to digital for many immigrant-led small businesses, and supporting the safe reopening of commerce “al fresco.”
University of California Vice Chancellor Edward Klotzbier: “His far-ranging work has been exemplary, and his willingness to share its lessons to the benefit of our communities is merely another way he has demonstrated his public-mindedness and sense of civic responsibility.”
JCRC of Louisville : “The Jewish Community Relations Council of Louisville (JCRC) is not in a position to comment on Mr. Syed’s qualifications to be the Deputy Administrator of the SBA; however, his national origin or his involvement in any Muslim American advocacy organization are not and should not be disqualifying factors.”
Open Chicago, President Aamir Chalisa: “Mr. Syed led engagement with Main Street businesses across California during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as guided Silicon Valley’s COVID-19 economic recovery. He is also the founding chair of the California Entrepreneurship Task Force, representing a historic initiative to promote inclusive entrepreneurship in rural communities in California. Additionally, Mr. Syed serves as the CEO of Lumiata, where he leads the company’s growth and transformation as a leader of AI in healthcare.”
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action: “Our Jewish community stands firmly in support of Dilawar Syed, and we look forward to his service in the Biden administration.”
Scott Henderson, Managing Director, NMotion: “…We believe that there is no one better than Dilawar Syed to take on the responsibility of making sure that the agency best serves those that will need their help as they try to rebound from a very difficult year.”
“We do not think that President Biden could have picked a better person for this role than Dilawar. He is a good man that understands business and the need for real not superficial participation in our economy for both urban and rural America.”
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism / Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of RAC / SVP of URJ: “While we take no position on the nomination of Dilawar Syed to be the Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) and do not agree with him on all issues, we vehemently oppose any effort to use unfounded insinuations of antisemitism as grounds for opposition to his confirmation.”
Fresno County Economic Development Corporation President William Oliver: “I believe multi-disciplinary leaders like Mr. Syed are needed at the highest levels of government to position our small businesses and entrepreneurs for success in a post-pandemic economy. Mr. Syed will pursue possible solutions for small business in communities facing impossible odds.”
Congregation Agudas Achim (Iowa City, Iowa), Rabbi Emeritus Jeffrey R. Portman: “My community was incredibly disheartened to see that your name was included on the recent letter from Sen. Risch, Rubio, Hawley, Scott, Kennedy, Inhofe, and Marshall. We appreciate and understand your concern about emboldened antisemitism, and are obviously concerned as well. But we believe these attacks on Dilawar are entirely misguided, inappropriate, and take away from legitimate claims of antisemitism.”
Interfaith Alliance, Executive Director Rabbi Jack Moline: “Emgage Action has been an important voice for Muslim Americans and to Muslim Americans, encouraging them to use the ballot box to vote their personal values – the same message they deliver to all Americans. I have gotten to know Dilawar and found him to be every bit the person we need in public life.”
Mayor of Fresno, California Jerry Dyer: “He has succeeded in the Silicon Valley, one of the world’s biggest business stages. Still, he understands the economic challenges of Main Street and regions far removed from tech hubs and multi-billion dollar corporations.”
Rick Larsen, Sutherland Institute: “The sad reality is that states and communities may be denied the legitimate and needed experience of appointees with the experience and principles of Mr. Syed – at a time when small business in the United States need such leadership.”
California?State?University-Fresno Lyles?College?of?Engineering Dean Ram?Nunna: “As an immigrant, Dilawar worked hard to get a great education, and using his educational experiences, talents and skills excelled himself in the technology sector. He has firsthand knowledge and experience in developing successful small businesses. His work over the years has had a significant positive economic impact, resulted in new products and services, and more importantly in sustainable employment for numerous people.”
Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce CEO Tara Lynn Gray: “Dilawar has generously lent his entrepreneurial talent and provided insight, strategic connections and innovative solutions to help address systemic challenges entrepreneurs of color face and advance inclusive economic development in our communities.”
Chief Commercial Officer, Co-Owner, and Board Member, Ginger Shots, Inc., Mr. Jan Remak: “It’s important to note that Dilawar is NOT anti-Israel, and does not support the BDS movement. In fact, he has long believed in dialog and engagement as the path for peace and shared prosperity in the Middle East. When it was unpopular to do so, I greatly admired that Dilawar was one of the few influential Silicon Valley Muslims to accept a trip to Israel as part of a Jewish Community Relations Council study tour. Subsequently, he also participated in the American Jewish Committee’s retreat with Muslim and Jewish leaders. I also know of Dilawar’s work as a technology leader, with a track record of partnering with Israeli companies and mentoring Israeli entrepreneurs.”
Central Valley Community Foundation President & CEO Ashley Swearengin: “While he is a proven Silicon Valley leader, he is also one of the greatest champions we have of the Central Valley. Dilawar has helped lift up students and small businesses in our region and advance our mission of connecting financial capital and communities for a just and thriving Central Valley.”
Congregation Achduth Vesholom (Fort Wayne, Indiana), Rabbi Meir Bargeron: “Dilawar has traveled to Israel with the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, considering the trip to be “one of the highlights of his life.” During the confirmation process, Dilawar stated unequivocally he does not support BDS, and that he has both mentored Israeli entrepreneurs, and done business with Israeli companies. To put it plainly, national Jewish organizations have given him their support, Sen. Cardin and Sen. Rosen, two of the strongest elected defenders of the Jewish community, and most staunch supporters of Israel have given him repeated support, and he has widespread support amongst the Indiana Jewish community.”
Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) San Francisco, Executive Director Emeritus Rabbi Doug Kahn: “It is my hope that this letter will end speculation about his personal views. I have devoted my professional life to advocacy for Israel as a part of my deep commitment to the survival of the Jewish people and Mr. Syed is a friend, not an enemy of our community who shares our common desire for peace in the Middle East.”
Endeavor Atlanta, Managing Director- Aaron Hurst: “Dilawar is a person of high integrity who understands what entrepreneurs are facing as they start and grow their businesses.”
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