If Biden is serious about bipartisanship, he can start with Sen. Tim Scott
Thus ended President Joe Biden’s hour-plus address Wednesday to a joint session of Congress, marking his first 100 days. Not that many senators or representatives were on hand to hear it. About three-quarters of the seats were empty with the few attendees masked and muted.
It was an odd sight for the planet’s oldest democracy: Legislators, fully vaccinated for months, still unwilling to gather with their new president or each other. The low-energy affair only reinforced the sense of a fading superpower with an enervated political class.
Biden’s speech was serviceable, if not inspiring. The president recited a litany of America’s problems and told Capitol Hill to start fixing them. The only legislative success Biden could hype was the American Rescue Plan Act. The rest was wish-casting.
Few Americans watched the speech and fewer stuck around for the Republican response. But those who did ended the night on a hopeful note.
Sen. Tim Scott (R–S.C.) delivered the optimism and healing that Biden missed.
Over his career, Scott has repeatedly tried to bridge the partisan divide. Democrats and the media are more willing to listen to the Black Republican compared to the average conservative.
“I won’t waste your time tonight with finger-pointing or partisan bickering,” Scott said in his response. “You can get that on TV any time you want.”
Scott championed a sweeping police reform bill last year in the wake of George Floyd’s killing and the resulting protests. Though it was lauded by some across the aisle, Senate Democrats squashed it via filibuster. You know, the filibuster Democrats now call “a Jim Crow relic.”
Despite this experience, Scott’s response Wednesday focused on real-world unity. He noted that the GOP Senate passed five bipartisan COVID-19 packages last year with 90 or more votes in the Senate. “Common sense found common ground,” Scott said.