U.S. Senator Tim Scott said President Joe Biden has failed to unite the nation and that his proposals for infrastructure spending and the newly announced package for education and families are pulling the nation further apart.
Delivering the Republican response to the Democratic president’s first joint address to Congress on Wednesday night, Scott said, “Our nation is starving for more than empty platitudes.”
Biden spent a section of his address celebrating the progress in combatting the coronavirus pandemic, including far exceeding his administration’s goal for vaccinations at this point in his presidency.
Scott said Biden “inherited a tide that had already turned,” crediting the Trump administration’s program to accelerate vaccine development, as well as several packages Congress passed last year to deliver trillions of dollars in aid to business, state governments and direct payments to individuals.
He described Democrats as unwilling to work with Republicans on more aid, as Democrats passed a new round of coronavirus aid after Biden took office. The parties clashed over the size of that measure, with Democrats arguing the government needed to take more action, while Republicans argued for more targeted spending.
Scott also expressed objection to the pace of schools reopening amid the pandemic, arguing that other countries had already allowed their children to go back to their classrooms.
“Science has shown for months that schools are safe,” he said.
Responding to Biden’s new proposal to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans to pay for expanded access to preschool, community college, child care and paid family leave, Scott described the plan as putting the federal government “more in the middle of your life, from the cradle to college.”
He said families should be able to define the American dream for themselves and that there should be expanded opportunities for all.
Scott, who is the only Black Republican senator, also said Democrats have brought race into unrelated policy disputes, saying, “Race is not a political weapon to settle every issue.”
“Today, kids again are being taught that the color of their skin defines them,” Scott said. “If they look a certain way, they’re an oppressor. From colleges to corporations to our culture, people are making money and gaining power by pretending we haven’t made any progress. By doubling down on the divisions we’ve worked so hard to heal.”
He added, “America is not a racist country.”