In his rebuttal to President Biden’s first joint address to Congress on Wednesday night, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott defended America’s record on race, saying that Republicans have supported racial justice, equal opportunity and police reform policies.
“Hear me clearly,” said Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate. “America is not a racist country. It’s backwards to fight discrimination with different kinds of discirmination.
“Race is not a political weapon to settle every issue like one side wants,” he went on to say. “It’s wrong to try to use our painful past to try to dishonestly shut down debates in the present.”
He spoke of an economic windfall Black Americans experienced with the rest of the country before the coronavirus pandemic. But he managed to parrot much of what former President Trump has said regarding the economy and minority communities.
“The lowest unemployment rate ever recorded for African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians, and a 70 year low nearly for women. Wages were growing faster for the bottom 25 percent than the top 25 percent,” said Scott. “That happened because Republicans focused on expanding opportunity for all Americans.”
Fact-checkers have disputed the rate for African Americans he mentioned because the Bureau of Labor Statistics has only kept such figures since 1972.
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Scott criticized Biden on several points, including the For the People Act, which would create sweeping changes on how Americans vote, saying that it shouldn’t be conflated with the Civil Rights movement.
“This is not about civil rights, or our racial past,” Scott said. “It’s about rigging elections in the future.”
Much of the rest of Scott’s speech accused Biden and Democrats of dividing the nation with things like his infrastructure plan and the American Jobs Plan, describing them as a “liberal wishlist of big government waste.”
Biden highlighted the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in his speech on Wednesday and urged Congress to pass the bill, which is currently stalled in the Senate.
Scott, who has served in Congress since 2013, is working with Democrats on the legislation and has said he is working on a compromise with California Rep. Karen Bass, although he did not offer specifics. Bass said this week that she is confident in its passage.
Still, Scott favored Republican policies when it comes to the nation’s welfare and maintained his criticism of Biden.
“Our president seems like a good man. His speech was full of good words. But President Biden promised you a specific kind of leadership,” said Scott. “Our nation is starving for more than empty platitudes. We need policies and progress that bring us closer together. But three months in, the actions of the president and his party are pulling us further and further apart.”