Tim Scott says “significant numbers” of Republicans willing to support police reform

Washington — South Carolina Senator Tim Scott said Sunday that he has heard from many of his Republican colleagues who are willing to support his efforts to craft a compromise on police reform. The Republican senator, who says he has experienced being racially profiled by police, is working with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to negotiate reform legislation.

“Significant numbers in my party have already said to me, ‘We will go where you go on this issue,’ as long as I can explain my position,” Scott said on “Face the Nation.” “And we’re going to do that.”

Scott said that he is “more optimistic” about the likelihood of police reform legislation passing in Congress because he feels Democrats are now looking for a “solution” rather than an “issue.” Last year, Scott introduced police legislation as a GOP counteroffer to the George Floyd Policing Act of 2020, but it was blocked by Senate Democrats who argued it did not go far enough.

One proposal that Scott said Democrats could support would allow civil suits against entire police departments instead of individual officers in an effort to change police culture.

“The real question is, how do we change the culture of policing? I think we do that by making the employer responsible for the actions of the employee,” Scott said. “And frankly, as I spoke with the family members on Thursday, they were very receptive to that proposal because what they’re looking for is something that shows progress. I think that does it.”

On Thursday, Scott and a bipartisan group of lawmakers met with the lawyers and family members of George Floyd, Terence Crutcher, Botham Jean and Eric Garner, Black men killed by law enforcement officers in recent years. The meeting came one day after the senator gave the Republican rebuttal to President Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress. 

In his response, Scott dismissed the idea that America is a racist country. He defended this statement on Sunday and mentioned that the president, vice president and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn have all agreed with his statement.

“The question is, is there a lingering effect after a couple of centuries of racism and discrimination in this nation? The answer is absolutely. The question we should be debating and fighting over is how do we resolve those issues going forward,” Scott said. “One side says, I’m going to take from some to give to others. Fighting bigotry with bigotry is hypocrisy. It just doesn’t work.”

In his response to the president’s address, Scott also spoke about having “an honest conversation about common sense and common ground.” When asked on Sunday how he can find this common ground despite polls showing that 70% of Republicans don’t believe that Mr. Biden is the legitimate president, Scott said “by moving on.”

“The election is over. Joe Biden is a president of the United States,” Scott said, before criticizing the president’s infrastructure plan. “Now, what we have to wrestle with is can we spend $6 to $6.5 trillion and raise taxes by $4 to $4.5 trillion dollars and create a better America? My answer is no, because the American government can’t be responsible for everything.”