Sen. Tim Scott delivered a strong rebuttal Wednesday night to President Joe Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress.
A unique voice whose status is on the rise, the South Carolina Republican helps steer his party’s agenda on matters from police reform and the southern border crisis to global affairs and economic growth.
Before Scott, Biden spoke for just over an hour to an unnecessarily-masked audience, offered a controversial opening, and pushed his “American Jobs Plan,” which he called a “once-in-a-generation investment,” but has been criticized for its price tag and potentially negative outcomes.
Scott’s 15-minute reply drew several contrasts between the GOP and Biden’s agenda.
As the lone black Republican in the Senate, his key portion noted that “America is not a racist country” and added a poignant critique of how modern education again teaches students to first judge others by skin color.
Scott credited the Trump administration for developing vaccines to combat COVID-19 and, unlike the current president, claimed school closures during the pandemic were deleterious.
“Thanks to Operation Warp Speed and the Trump Administration, our country is flooded with safe and effective vaccines,” Scott said. “Locking vulnerable kids out of the classroom is locking adults out of their future. Our public schools should have reopened months ago. Other countries did. Private and religious schools did. Science has shown for months that schools are safe.”
Scott explained that “just before COVID, we had the most inclusive economy in my lifetime. The lowest unemployment ever recorded for African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans. The lowest for women in nearly 70 years. Wages were growing faster for the bottom 25% than the top 25%. That happened because Republicans focused on expanding opportunity for all Americans.”
He also believes “weakening our southern border and creating a crisis is not compassionate” and mentioned last week’s bigoted attack piece on his family history by the Washington Post.
The “common sense makes common ground” themed speech caused an analyst to tweet, “Can’t remember the last GOP presidential hopeful who enhanced his reputation by delivering the SOTU response. But Tim Scott just did exactly that.”
The 55-year-old served one term in the U.S. House of Representatives before joining the Senate in 2013.
In 2016, Scott gave personal speeches on the Senate floor detailing his life experiences. In the wake of George Floyd’s death last summer, he drafted legislation to overhaul policing, but the bill was filibustered and shut down by Democrats. Scott has since worked on bipartisan solutions with Democratic Sen. Cory Booker and Democratic Rep. Karen Bass.