GOP senator denounces blockade of his party’s candidates – while blocking one candidate
Sen. Jim Risch (Idaho) slammed his fellow Republican senators on Saturday, saying he disagreed with their blockade on President Joe Biden’s diplomatic candidates.
“I’ve been critical of this ever since I started serving on the foreign relations committee,” said Risch, who is the committee’s top Republican. “I was governor. I understand that you must have a team in place to govern.
Biden has more than 50 stranded foreign policy candidates in the Senate, according to Politico. To be sure, the heist here isn’t Risch; these are Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Josh Hawley (Mo.) who opposed the candidates and, as Senate rules allow, are able to slow down the confirmation process.
Their objections are not to individuals, but to broader foreign policy issues (like trying to get top officials in the Biden administration to resign).
In his remarks to the Halifax International Security Forum, Risch added that he had been “as forceful as possible to secure these [nominations] through.”
But Risch is part of the heist on another candidate, Dilawar Syed, whom Biden appointed in March as deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration.
If approved, Syed would become the top official in the Muslim administration.
He’s been waiting for confirmation longer than any other Biden candidate, according to the Partnership for Public Service, which tracks wait times.
On five occasions, GOP Senators from the Small Business Committee have refused to show up for meetings. The committee is also divided – 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans so Democrats need at least one Republican in order for them to have a quorum and be able to conduct business.
As a result, Syed was unable to enter the Senate for a full vote because Republicans even refuse to allow a committee vote on him.
Republicans, led by high-ranking member Rand Paul (Ky.), Say they are not opposing Syed but are trying to pressure the administration over some loans to Planned Parenthood.
Risch is on the small business committee and could break the GOP blockade of the kind he has decried against foreign policy candidates. All he has to do is show up to a committee meeting. He doesn’t even have to vote “yes” on Syed.
White House spokesman Chris Meagher questioned Risch’s position on Sunday to Syed, tweeting that if he appreciates Risch’s belief that Biden “has a right to have his team in place,” why so, “as one of the GOP leaders on the Senate Small Business Committee, does he continue to refuse to allow even a vote on SBA Dep. Director candidate when many small businesses are in trouble?”
Risch spokesman Marty Cozza argued that in both cases the senator “respected the traditions and standards of the Senate, regardless of personal preferences.”
“As a leading member of foreign relations, he helped get candidates through the committee and respects the rights of members as senators to slow down the process on the ground,” Cozza said.
“When it comes to the Small Business Committee, supporting your leading member to achieve a reasonable goal is a tradition as old as the Senate. The leading SBC member is leading the Republicans on the committee to achieve a reasonable goal: to receive responses from the SBA on roughly $ 100 million in illegal P3 loans to Planned Parenthood, and Senator Risch backs the ranking member in his efforts to get answers, ”she added.
Syed is a Pakistani businessman who has held public service positions in California and at the federal level, leading small business engagement for President Barack Obama’s administration following the passage of the 2009 stimulus package. He is also co-founder of the AAPI Victory Fund, a super PAC dedicated to mobilizing Asian American voters.
Republicans say they oppose filling the SBA deputy position until the Biden administration vows to resume loans to certain Planned Parenthood affiliates under the Check Protection Program payroll.
The loans, however, were made during President Donald Trump’s administration, not Biden’s. They were meant to help small businesses keep their employees on their payrolls during the pandemic. Planned Parenthood Affiliates are nonprofits with governing and funding structures separate from the national group, but Republicans say they’re too tightly knit and shouldn’t have received the money.
The Trump administration then attempted to demand that Planned Parenthood affiliates repay the money. They refused to do so, claiming that they had obtained the loans legally under the original terms of the police.
But before that, Republicans had another reason to oppose Syed that concerned him more directly: They questioned his allegiances because of his Muslim faith and hinted that he might be anti-Israel because of his working with Emgage Action, a Muslim rights group. GOP senators retreated from this line of attack, however, when Jewish and other religious and civil rights organizations came to Syed’s defense.
In July, the American Jewish Committee, a Jewish rights group, said that while it “does not normally take a position” on the candidates, the “accusations regarding the appointment of Dilawar Syed based on his national origin or his involvement in an organization for the defense of Muslims is so low and non-American that the AJC is forced to speak out.
Syed is running out of time. Democrats on the Small Business Committee once again failed to move forward on Syed’s appointment last week, and the year is almost over. If Syed is not confirmed this year, the president will have to resubmit his appointment in 2022.