Tim Scott has for years highlighted racial tension with police. Now he’s leading the GOP’s effort to fix it.
(CNN) In the wake of the death of George Floyd, Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, said he offered an idea to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Scott wanted to come by and talk about some proposals he had for reforming police.
At the time, many rank-and-file members were dismissive that anything could happen on an issue most viewed as being the job of state and local governments, not Congress. But the next day, Scott told CNN that McConnell’s office called and the meeting was set up. McConnell didn’t just listen. He asked Scott, the only black senator in the Republican conference, to lead a small group of members in developing a framework that they could present to the rest of the GOP senators.
“He is one of our strongest members,” McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said in an interview with CNN on Thursday. “He is responsible, for example, for economic opportunity zones, which were a major feature of the tax reform bill that we passed and the President signed into law. He was a major player on criminal justice reform, one of our most respected members. And also he has experienced directly — as recently as his time in the Senate — the kind of discrimination we have seen on full display across the country.”
“I think you can have a tough conversation with Tim Scott and not realize you had a tough conversation. That is the gift he has,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from West Virginia, said of Scott’s approach in the conference.
In recent days, Scott has also spoken out against online critics for accepting the job of leading his party on policing reform at all.
Scott tweeted earlier this week that it’s “not surprising the last 24 hours have seen a lot of ‘token’ ‘boy’ or ‘you’re being used’ in my mentions. Let me get this straight … you DON’T want the person who has faced racial profiling by police, been pulled over dozens of times or been speaking out for YEARS drafting this?”
Asked about the tweet, Scott said he believed so many of the comments on Twitter over the last few days attacking him for working on policing legislation with Republicans were “intended to be hurtful.”
“They are intended to be polarizing. They are intended to be negative. I always try to remember that the person speaking doesn’t know me at all. Their opinion can’t matter very much. If they were very educated on our opportunity agenda, maybe they would think differently,” Scott said. “But, if they want to hold me out as a ‘token’ or an ‘uncle Tom’ or whatever the latest fad in being negative is, that is on them. That is a stain on their soul, not mine.”
The Republican proposal will put more of the onus on states to institute best practices and create commissions on policing and the challenges faced by black men in the US. Scott’s proposal is not expected to include a ban on chokeholds, a key priority for Democrats.
The timing is also still uncertain. Democrats plan to vote on their own legislation before the end of the month, but McConnell has not laid out a timeline for when the GOP’s bill could come to the floor.
Full article here.