Sen. Tim Scott on Wednesday knocked President Biden for “empty platitudes” about national unity while also accusing the US of “systemic racism” in a blistering Republican response to Biden’s first speech to a joint session of Congress.
The South Carolina Republican said Democrats hypocritically talked about unity while filibustering his policing reform bill and rejecting GOP efforts to influence Biden’s recently passed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.
Scott, one of just three black senators, also said “America is not a racist country” — rejecting Biden’s recent assessment of America as systemically racist.
“Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country. It’s backwards to fight discrimination with different discrimination. And it’s wrong to try to use our painful past to dishonestly shut down debates in the present.
“Original sin is never the end of the story. Not in our souls and not for our nation. The real story is always redemption,” Scott said.
Scott blasted Democrats’ go-it-alone strategy to pass a trio of massive spending bills totaling $6 trillion, including a pending $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill.
Democrats “won’t even build bridges to build bridges,” Scott quipped.
He said that on police reform, Democrats stood in the way of allowing debate on his reform bill because they “seem to want the issue more than they wanted a solution.”
And Scott accused Democrats, including Biden, of divisively mischaracterizing a Georgia election reform law that expanded early voting but imposed new rules on absentee voting.
“Despite what the president claimed, it did not reduce election day hours. If you actually read this law, it’s mainstream. It will be easier to vote early in Georgia than in Democrat-run New York,” Scott said.
“But the Left doesn’t want you to know that they want people virtue signaling by yelling about a law they haven’t even read. Fact checkers have called out the White House for misstatements. The president absurdly claims that this is worse than Jim Crow.”
Still, Scott said he was hopeful that talk of unity would actually manifest in compromise, including on race. He and Democrats are in talks about a bipartisan policing reform bill.
“Race is not a political weapon to sell every issue the way one side wants. It’s far too important,” Scott said.
“Nowhere do we need common ground more desperately been in our discussions of race. I have experienced the pain of discrimination. I know what it feels like to be pulled over for no reason, to be falling around the store while I’m shopping,” he said.
“I remember every morning at the kitchen table my grandfather would open the newspaper and read it, I thought. Later, I realized he had never learned to read it. He just wanted to set the right example.
“I’ve also experienced a different kind of intolerance — I called Uncle Tom and the N-word by progressives, by liberals. Just last week, a national newspaper suggested my family’s poverty was actually privilege because a relative owned land generations before my time.”
Scott went on to hail “brave police officers in black neighborhoods” and said on race relations, “we’ve made tremendous progress, but powerful forces want to pull us apart.”
“100 years ago, kids in classrooms were taught the color of their skin was their most important characteristic. And if they looked a certain way, they were inferior. Today, kids are being taught that the color of their skin defines them again. And if you look a certain way, they’re in a oppressor. From colleges to corporations to our culture, people are making money and gaining power by pretending we haven’t made any progress at all.”
Scott said that Biden’s to blame for a downcast spring as the pandemic fades.
“This should be a joyful springtime for our nation. This administration inherited a tide that had already turned. The coronavirus is on the run. Thanks to Operation Warp Speed and the Trump administration, our country is flooded with safe and effective vaccines. Thanks to our bipartisan work last year job openings are rebounding,” Scott said.
“So why do we feel so divided, anxious? A nation with so much cause for hope should not feel so heavy-laden. A president who promised to bring us together should not be pushing agendas that tear us apart. The American family deserves better.”