Update (April 29, 2021) : U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) refuted President Joe Biden’s remarks during his Wednesday night address to Congress, which touched on the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Jobs Plan and the critical need to protect voting rights. 

As Blavity previously reported, Scott was announced as the congressman who'd give the GOP’s rebuttal following President Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress. 

"Our nation is starving for more than empty platitudes," Scott said in his rebuttal. "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." 

"Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country. It's backwards to fight discrimination with different types of discrimination,” Scott stated. "I'm an African-American who has voted in the South all my life. I take voting rights personally. Republicans support making it easier to vote and harder to cheat,” Scott argued. 

Though Senator Scott asserted that America is not a racist nation, he also opened up about his experiences with discrimination from other party lines, adding that “race is not a political weapon to settle every issue the way one side wants.”  

“I get 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,” he said. 

Scott also acknowledged and thanked the Trump administration’s efforts for expediting the distribution of vaccines, which have been administered to over 200 million people in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"This Administration inherited a tide that had already turned, the 55-year-old said. “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. So why do we feel so divided and anxious?”

Within his address, which encouraged Congress to pass H.R. 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, President Biden maintained that American democracy is under siege, referencing the Jan 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill. 

“As we gather here tonight, the images of a violent mob assaulting this Capitol, desecrating our democracy, remain vivid in our minds. Lives were put at risk. Lives were lost. Extraordinary courage was summoned,” the 46th President said. “The insurrection was an existential crisis—a test of whether our democracy could survive. It did. But the struggle is far from over. The question of whether our democracy  will long endure is both ancient and urgent. As old as our Republic. Still vital today.”

Though America still has a long road ahead in terms of reconciling with race, beating the pandemic, and restoring the economy, President Biden says that he is hopeful for the future. 

“I can say with absolute confidence: I have never been more confident or more optimistic about America. We have stared into an abyss of insurrection and autocracy — of pandemic and pain — and “We the People” did not flinch,” he said.

Original (April 28, 2021) : Tim Scott, the sole Black Republican senator, has wiggled his way into the national spotlight after the GOP leadership handpicked him to deliver the political party's rebuttal Wednesday during President Joe Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress. 

As an influential vote in the bipartisan congressional effort to overhaul policing, Scott will have the opportunity to address Americans with this platform and the chance to put his policing bill at the forefront of his speech, CNN reported

The South Carolina Republican said he’s done the right amount of practice.

"You do your homework and you do your best to ... anticipate what he's going to say and be in a position to share with the nation a different way, at least what I think is a better way," Scott said on Tuesday.

The GOP leaders’ decision of selecting Scott to spearhead the rebuttal comes at a crucial moment as the nation grapples with a tense political divide. With the demands for social justice, reform and recent killings of Black people by white police officers, it is likely that Scott may directly address Black Americans. 

Scott, however, has remained mostly silent about the overall details of his speech and has not confirmed whether he will address the overhaul policing effort, instead, he has said “I think [the speech] should be a surprise to everybody.” 

Although known for his advocacy of conservative rhetorics, according to the Associated Press, Scott has delivered Senate speeches that bring attention to racial tensions with police and his own negative encounters with law enforcement over the years. 

Scott, who is among only 11 Black senators in history, rose to Capitol Hill's attention when he proposed legislation to create a national database of police use-of-force incidents after an officer killed an unarmed Black man. Walter Scott, was killed by a police officer in Scott's hometown of North Charleston, South Carolina April 2015. In 2016, the 55-year-old detailed his experience as a Black man in America and just last summer drafted the since failed overhauling policing effort.  

Now, with a new political field and as the nation experiences urgency to advance police reform, Scott has the center stage to again push his compromise bill made together with Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, and Rep. Karen Bass, D-CA, who authored the now House-passed George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. According to CNN, Scott met with the two members of Congress Monday to work out details of both parties' sides. 

One of the issues that remain is their position on qualified immunity, a legal defense used to protect police officers from civil litigation, and Section 242, a part of federal law that sets the bar for criminally prosecuting police officers, CNN reported. Scott suggested shifting responsibility to police departments while Bass believes both should be held accountable.  

"Because the point is that we have got to hold police officers accountable," Bass recently told CNN. "Essentially now the standard that's used to prosecute an officer is so high. That's why they're never held to account. So you need to lower it just like you would for anybody."

Scott said he believed both sides were making progress on their end goal.

“We are trying to get to a place where we can solve those issues," he said.

Going forward, Scott, Bass and Booker remain equally respectable in their relationship with one another with the New Jersey senator saying on Tuesday, “Tim is a friend and an honest broker." 

"We may disagree on a whole host of things, but we have worked together to get major bills done in the past. I have a lot of faith in him,” Booker said. “I believe we're in a historical moment. History has its eyes on us. And there's an urgency in our country, and may we both rise in this Senate negotiation to get something substantive and meaningful done."