After President Biden delivers his first joint speech to Congress on Wednesday evening, the task of pushing back the president’s vision will fall on Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.
Mr Scott, 55, offers a brand of unabashed conservatism that has helped him move from a seat on Charleston County Council to a nationally prominent place in the Republican Party.
Over a decade ago, Mr. Scott rose to prominence as a vocal critic of the Obama administration and propelled a wave of Tea Party support in Washington, winning a House seat in 2010 and making himself love conservative groups with a small, strong government. philosophy.
As the only black Republican in the Senate, Mr. Scott has also become a pioneer figure within his party, breaking down a number of historic barriers and rising in an environment often hostile to black politicians.
In his first House campaign primary, Mr Scott defeated Paul Thurmond, son of former Senator Strom Thurmond, who for years helped lead the Republican Party’s resistance to racial integration. And in 2013, when then-Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Mr Scott to fill a post left by former Senator James DeMint, he entered the Senate as the first black politician since reconstruction to represent a Southern state.
Mr Scott was asked to deliver the rebuttal by Republican leaders – Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California – at a time when the GOP has been keen to build support with people of color. And during his years in the Senate, Mr. Scott often provided advice to his colleagues on matters of race.
More recently, as the debate over police brutality intensified, Mr. Scott offered his own heartfelt Senate experience of racial profiling by police. He has also positioned himself as an informed voice on the challenges facing working families, invoking his early years growing up in poverty with a working single mother.
While many of the policy proposals Mr Biden is expected to discuss on Wednesday met with stiff opposition from Republicans, Mr Scott has said he does not want his rebuttal to be an excoriation of the President’s agenda. to the very charged rhetoric that has become common on Capitol Hill.
“We face serious challenges on many fronts, but I am as confident as I have ever been in America’s promise and potential,” Scott said in a statement providing an overview of his remarks. “I look forward to having an honest conversation with the American people and sharing the Republicans’ optimistic vision for expanding opportunity and empowering working families.”