CAPAC Members Call for Vote on Dilawar Syed, Condemn Lies and Anti-Muslim Rhetoric

Sep 14, 2021

Washington, D.C. — Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) sent a letter today to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship calling for a swift confirmation of Dilawar Syed, President Biden’s nominee to serve as Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. But since June 16, three different attempts to consider Mr. Syed’s nomination have been blocked by individual Senators who have targeted Mr. Syed for his faith, holding up his vote based on false accusations and anti-Muslim sentiment.

“Targeting nominees like Mr. Syed for their faith, ethnicity, or place of birth, furthers the perpetual foreigner stereotype to which AAPIs are constantly subjected,” said the CAPAC members in the letter. “We stand firmly against the use of these typecasting misconceptions. These tactics have been rejected by leading civil rights and faith-based organizations and have no place in our government or our nation. There is no question that Mr. Syed is uniquely well suited and highly qualified for this role, and small business owners and entrepreneurs across the country deserve this standard of leadership at SBA. Continuing to block his nomination is a disservice to these business owners and entrepreneurs.”

“Dilawar Syed, President Biden’s nominee to run the Small Business Administration – a vital position as we rebuild our economy and help entrepreneurs stay on their feet – is a successful entrepreneur with decades of experience in business and public service,” said CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu. “But despite his qualifications, he is being held up by a handful of Senators who object not to his business record or his policies, but to his faith. Mr. Syed’s bona fides and record have been endorsed not only by business groups, like the US Chamber of Commerce, but also by Jewish community organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress – levels of support that no other nominee to a similar position is expected to have. But despite this support, Republican Senators are claiming that his faith and background are disqualifying. This is bigotry plain and simple and the Senate must not have its hands tied by those who spread lies and misinformation. It’s time to give Mr. Syed the same vote that every nominee deserves.”

In addition to Rep. Chu, the letter is signed by Senators Mazie Hirono and Tammy Duckworth and Reps. Grace Meng, Mark Takano, Ted Lieu, Kaiali’i Kahele, Ami Bera, Al Green, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee, Jan Schakowsky, Dina Titus, and Norma Torres.

It is available online here and included below:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

September 14, 2021

 

The Honorable Ben Cardin

The Honorable Rand Paul

US Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship

428A Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Chair Cardin and Ranking Member Paul:

As members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), which is comprised of 76 members of Congress, we write to strongly endorse the swift confirmation of Dilawar Syed, who has been nominated to serve as Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). He has decades of experience in business, entrepreneurship, and public service, making him extremely well-qualified for this position.

AAPI small businesses have been especially hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, according to a report by the New York Federal Reserve, the Asian American community not only experienced the largest drop in entrepreneurship during the pandemic, but while other communities of color saw a rebound in entrepreneurship as the pandemic continued, that rebound had yet to happen for AAPIs. Mr. Syed has a long history working with all communities, but has particularly strong ties to the AAPI community, having served as a Commissioner on the White House Commission on AAPIs. At this pivotal moment for AAPI small businesses, having Mr. Syed’s background represented at SBA is critical.

Mr. Syed, an immigrant who has embodied the values of hard work and ingenuity, has built and scaled businesses with major impacts in technology, healthcare, and business services. He has shown incredible prowess as an entrepreneur in business growth and development. For example, as President of Freshworks, a customer service software company, Mr. Syed grew the company from a few dozen customers to thousands of small and medium businesses across the U.S. During his tenure as Commissioner on the White House Commission on AAPIs, Mr. Syed actively worked to connect entrepreneurs in underserved regions to the SBA and Department of Commerce. From serving as the founding chair of the California Entrepreneurship Task Force to spearheading rapid response engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic with the state’s most vulnerable small businesses to increase awareness of critical programs like the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, Mr. Syed has consistently helped empower and uplift our nation’s small businesses.

Mr. Syed’s nomination has the support of more than 150 civic, government, higher education and business leaders and organizations, including endorsements from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Black Chambers, National Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship, Small Business Roundtable, Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Congress, and many others. Upon confirmation, Mr. Syed would become the highest-ranking Muslim American in the Biden administration to date, as well as one of the highest-ranking AAPIs.

However, we are disappointed to see the treatment Mr. Syed has received from those on the Committee that have held up his confirmation vote, based on false accusations, anti-Muslim sentiment, and efforts to hamstring Committee business unless specific conditions on unrelated matters are met. Since June 16, the Committee has made three different attempts to consider Mr. Syed’s nomination, but each time certain members have challenged the proceedings or blocked them from moving forward. On two separate occasions, these members even boycotted the proceedings—denying Mr. Syed fair consideration. Targeting nominees like Mr. Syed for their faith, ethnicity, or place of birth, furthers the perpetual foreigner stereotype to which AAPIs are constantly subjected. We stand firmly against the use of these typecasting misconceptions. These tactics have been rejected by leading civil rights and faith-based organizations and have no place in our government or our nation. There is no question that Mr. Syed is uniquely well suited and highly qualified for this role, and small business owners and entrepreneurs across the country deserve this standard of leadership at SBA. Continuing to block his nomination is a disservice to these business owners and entrepreneurs.

The Deputy Administrator role has traditionally been focused on managing execution of SBA’s programmatic mission and day-to-day operations, which includes bringing desperately needed relief to struggling small businesses and entrepreneurs across the nation. This position has been left vacant for over three years and continuing to do so prevents the agency from having a fully staffed senior leadership team at a time when the SBA’s importance in our nation’s economic recovery is at an all-time high.

Mr. Syed’s impressive background both in public service and the private sector in business and entrepreneurship along with his leadership in the AAPI community will undoubtedly be assets in his role as SBA’s Deputy Administrator. We are confident that Dilawar Syed is the perfect fit for this role and we urge the Committee to promptly move forward with his confirmation.                                

Sincerely,