For Fifth Time, GOP Boycotts High-Ranking Muslim Nominee Dilawar Syed

The loans, however, were handed out during President Donald Trump’s administration, not Biden’s. They were meant to help small businesses keep employees on their payrolls during the pandemic. Planned Parenthood’s affiliates are nonprofit organizations with leadership and funding structures separate from the national group, but Republicans say they are too closely tied and should not have received the money.

The Trump administration later tried to demand that Planned Parenthood affiliates return the money. They refused to do, saying they had obtained the loans legally under the original terms of the policy.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the small business committee’s ranking member, told HuffPost recently that he has not been satisfied with the Biden administration’s response to their Planned Parenthood concerns, which is why the blockade continues.

“They haven’t been forthcoming on any of this,” he said. “So we’re not really happy with that.”

But previously, Republicans had another reason for opposing Syed that was more directly about him: They questioned his allegiances because of his Muslim faith and implied that he might be anti-Israel because of his work with Emgage, a Muslim advocacy group. GOP senators backed away from that line of attack, however, when Jewish and other religious and civil rights organizations came to Syed’s defense.

In July, American Jewish Committee, a Jewish advocacy group, said that while it “does not normally take positions” on nominees, the “accusations around Dilawar Syed’s nomination based on his national origin or involvement in a Muslim advocacy organization are so base and un-American that AJC is compelled to speak out.”

Cardin said he has worked to provide Paul with information about the Planned Parenthood loans, but that ultimately, they cannot force the SBA to take back loans that were legally given.

He also noted that in June, he asked for a voice vote to approve Syed. A few Republicans registered that they were “no” votes, but he was prepared to then move forward and send Syed to the full Senate for approval.

A GOP staffer, however, raised an objection that a roll call vote did not take place. Since then, Republicans have not shown up for committee business.

In a statement Wednesday, Paul said the answers he has received from the SBA have not been sufficient.

“We have spent months using every tool at our disposal to get the SBA to tell us the truth about what is going on and reverse course with this money,” he said. “The SBA has stonewalled us at every turn, refusing to answer basic questions or provide even customary oversight information.”

Supporters from a number of organizations held a press conference Wednesday outside the Capitol, urging GOP senators to stop blocking Syed.

“For far too long, civil servants from ethnic or religious minorities have been held to different standards than white civil servants,” said Arielle Gingold, deputy Washington director of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, a progressive Jewish group. Gingold added that the Republican Party “used the Jewish community as a pawn” to block Syed.

Shekar Narasimhan, co-founder of AAPI Victory Fund, is a friend of Syed’s who spoke at the press conference Wednesday. He told HuffPost that Syed recognizes “he’s in the fight of his life.”

“The fight is now about things that are now larger than just simply the SBA deputy administrator,” Narasimhan said.

Syed has also received vocal support from Munr Kazmir, a Pakistani American Jew who is a major GOP donor. He has been tweeting that Senate Republicans’ refusal to move forward on Syed is hurting small businesses.

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