In the Republican rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) urged the country the reject “socialist dreams” following Biden’s calls for new programs such as free community college and child care.
“Our best future won’t come from Washington schemes... . It will come from you, the American people,” Scott said, summing up broad Republican Party opposition to Biden’s agenda.
He added: “Our nation is starving for more than empty platitudes. The actions of the president and his party are pulling us further and further and further apart.”
Republicans have struggled to craft a coherent message against Biden during his first 100 days in office. They’ve railed against his progressive policies and called his trillion-dollar proposals “radical,” and they’ve accused him of breaking his vow to govern in a bipartisan manner, but polls have repeatedly shown that majorities of voters ― even Republican ones ― like Biden’s ideas and like the president personally. Scott even acknowledged the personality point by saying that Biden “seems like a good man” at the opening of his speech.
Scott, a stalwart Donald Trump ally who was first elected to the Senate in 2012, was selected by his party’s leadership to deliver their response earlier this week. In recent years, the rebuttal has been given by figures who have gone on to run for president. Scott is among several Republican lawmakers mentioned as a possible 2024 candidate.
As the only Black Republican in the Senate, Scott has been a unique voice in his party on the issue of police reform following a number of police shooting deaths across the country. He’s engaged in fresh bipartisan talks with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), but the group has struggled to reach a deal on a policing overhaul. A key sticking point remains the issue of qualified immunity for police officers. Democrats believe officers should be held personally responsible when involved in wrongful death shootings, but the GOP is resistant to that idea.
“Our friends across the aisle seem to want the issue more than they want the solution, but I’m still working and I’m hoping this will be different,” Scott said of bipartisan talks on police reform on Wednesday.
In his speech, Scott also credited the Trump administration with the development of the COVID-19 vaccines, saying Biden “inherited a tide that had already turned.”
“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.