Tim Scott Announces Presidential Bid: 5 Policy Positions He's Taken In Congress

From voting rights to Obamacare, Scott has often been at odds with the policy preferences of the Black community.

GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina officially stepped into the ring Monday (May 22) to square off against several other candidates vying for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination. As a presidential candidate, the conservative Black Republican is now under national scrutiny over his policy positions and views on race in America. During his time in Congress, Scott has often opposed policies that many in the Black community favor.

He entered the race with tons of cash on hand, nearly $22 million, according to Federal Election Commission data. But he faces an uphill battle against the party’s heavyweight, former President Donald Trump, who leads the field of declared and expected candidates by more than 53 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight’s aggregated primary polls.

Scott announced his candidacy in North Charleston, surrounded by supporters at his alma mater Charleston Southern University. He told the audience that the nation has been in decline under President Joe Biden and liberal extremists – presenting a laundry list, from an unsecured Southern border to the economy, that he said is evidence of the decline.

“The radical far-left is pushing us into a culture of grievance instead of a culture of greatness,” Scott said, adding, “I'm the candidate the far-left fears the most.”

Scott, 57, grew up in North Charleston in a poor, single parent home where his mother worked as a nurse’s assistant. His political career began In 1995, when he was elected to the Charleston County City Council, where he served until 2008.

He later defeated Paul Thurmond, the son of longtime GOP Sen. Strom Thurmond – who defended racial segregation in Congress– to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, also a 2024 presidential candidate, appointed Scott to the Senate in 2013 to fill a vacant seat, for which he was recently re-elected in 2022 to represent.

Scott was the first Black senator from the South since Reconstruction, but he’s had a thorny relationship with fellow Black lawmakers in Congress. As a House member, he declined an invitation to join the Congressional Black Caucus, saying at the time that his “campaign was never about race,” according to The Washington Post.

Looking ahead, it appears that he plans to attack liberals on the campaign trail. Scott posted a video in April announcing his presidential exploratory committee in which he says Democrats “weaponize race to divide us” and vows to "never back down in defense of the conservative values that make America exceptional.”

As Scott introduces himself to a national audience, here are five policy positions and statements that offer a glimpse into his world view.

Voting rights

After Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, Republican lawmakers in several states passed an array of ballot restrictions apparently targeting Black voters, claiming it was needed to prevent voter fraud, which is rare. Starting in 2021, lawmakers passed at least 42 restrictive voting laws in 21 states that a Brennan Center for Justice analysis found more prevalent in red states with racially diverse populations.

In response, Democrats introduced the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which is aimed at fighting voter suppression and restoring enforcement provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. It passed in the House but stalled in the Senate because of the filibuster rule that requires 60 votes to advance certain legislation.

During the Senate debate, all eyes were on the chamber’s only three Black members: Scott, Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Georgia’s Raphael Warnock, The New York Times reported.

Scott pointed to the election of Booker, Warnock and himself to the Senate as evidence of exaggerated claims of widespread voter suppression. “It’s hard to deny progress when two of the three come from the Southern states which people say are the places where African American votes are being suppressed,” he said, adding that Biden was wrong to call Georgia’s voting rule changes an example of “Jim Crow in the 21st Century.” 

Booker responded, “Don’t lecture me about Jim Crow.”

“It is 2022 and they are blatantly removing more polling places from the counties where Blacks and Latinos are overrepresented. I’m not making that up. That is a fact,” the New Jersey senator added.

MLK III Vows No Celebration On MLK Day If President, Congress Fail To Pass Voting Rights Legislation

Police reform

Following the fatal arrest of George Floyd, a Black man handcuffed behind his back and face down on the ground, in 2020 by White former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murdering Floyd, momentum was strong for police reform legislation.

Scott led Senate negotiations for Republicans. Sen. Booker and then-Rep. Karen Bass of California were on the other side of the negotiating table for the Democrats. They tried for many months to hammer out a deal on the proposed George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

But the two sides failed to reach a bipartisan agreement in 2021. Scott, in an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation that aired September 26, 2021, blamed the collapse on Democrats for pushing funding cuts to law enforcement departments and for tying grant money to cooperating with the reform efforts.

"We said simply this: 'I'm not going to participate in reducing funding for the police after we saw major city after major city defund the police.' Many provisions in this bill that he wanted me to agree to limited or reduced funding for the police," Scott said.

Booker rejected Scott’s take on what happened.

"This is a bill that would have had millions of dollars for police departments ... millions of dollars more, additional dollars, because we want to help officers with mental health issues. We want to collect more data so we should give more resources," Booker told Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union.

CNN reported that two police unions – the Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police – disputed Scott’s account.

“Despite some media reports, at no point did any legislative draft propose ‘defunding the police,’” a joint statement from the two groups said, according to CNN. “In fact, the legislation specifically provided additional funding to assist law enforcement agencies in training, agency accreditation, and data collection initiatives.”

After Memphis, Tenn. officers viciously beat Tyre Nichols to death during a traffic stop in January, Scott has said he’s willing to revisit police reform legislation but called the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act a “nonstarter,” The Hill reported.


Scott was among the GOP lawmakers who fought to repeal former President Barack Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act, his signature health care reform legislation dubbed “Obamacare.”

"Obamacare has completely met our expectations - that it will fail. Americans were promised they could keep their doctor, and that turned out to be false. Prices were supposed to decrease, and they didn't. Our middle class is feeling the burden of rising premiums, out-of-control deductibles, and lack of insurance options and choices,” a 2017 statement from Scott’s office said.

Yet, despite full control of Congress and the presidency, Republicans failed to repeal and replace Obamacare, and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the health care system overhaul. Part of the GOP problem was that a majority of Americans, over time, came to support Obamacare, The Post reported in 2017.

‘America isn’t racist’

In his rebuttal to Biden's first joint address to Congress, Scott insisted that the nation does not have a racism problem, disputing the president’s view that white supremacy is the greatest threat to the homeland.

"Hear me clearly. America is not a racist country," Scott told the national audience, arguing that Democrats ignore the country’s progress toward racial equality.

"Just before COVID, we had the most inclusive economy in my lifetime," he stated.

In response, Vice President Kamala Harris told ABC NewsGood Morning America co-anchor George Stephanopoulos that she agreed in part with Scott’s comments.

"No, I don't think America is a racist country," Harris said, "But we also do have to speak truth about the history of racism in our country and its existence today."

She continued, "We want to unify the country, but not without speaking truth and requiring accountability, as appropriate."

Tim Scott, Lone Black Republican Senator, Opposes Trump Impeachment

White supremacist rally

Scott was largely a Trump supporter in the Senate, walking in lockstep with the vast majority of House and Senate Republicans who voted not to impeach Trump.

But Scott has disagreed publicly with his party’s leader. He told reporters in 2017 that he met with Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence at the White House to discuss Trump’s infamous remark that white supremacists who held a rally in Charlottesville, Va. where a woman was killed are “very fine people,” PBS News Hour reported.

“We had three or four centuries of rape, murder and death brought at the hands of the (Ku Klux Klan) and those who believe in a superior race. I wanted to make sure we were clear on the delineation between who’s on which side in the history of the nation,” Scott stated, criticizing Trump for apportioning blame equally between white supremacists and counter-demonstrators at the rally.

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