Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina will deliver the GOP response following President Joe Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress next Wednesday.
The decision will give Scott, the lone Black Republican senator and the lead Republican negotiator on Congress’ policing reform efforts, a prominent national platform from which to speak to the country and counter Biden’s message.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy announced on Thursday that Scott had been chosen to give the speech.
“Senator Tim Scott is not just one of the strongest leaders in our Senate Republican Conference. He is one of the most inspiring and unifying leaders in our nation,” McConnell said in a statement.
Biden will address lawmakers in a joint session of Congress where he will deliver his first remarks to both chambers nearly 100 days after taking office.
Biden was formally invited to speak to Congress by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who wrote in a letter earlier this month to the President that she was extending the invitation so he could “share your vision for addressing the challenges and opportunities of this historic moment.”
As part of the announcement that he will be delivering the Republican response, Scott said in a statement that he is “excited and honored for this opportunity to address the nation.”
“We face serious challenges on multiple fronts, but I am as confident as I have ever been in the promise and potential of America. I look forward to having an honest conversation with the American people and sharing Republicans’ optimistic vision for expanding opportunity and empowering working families,” he said.
Scott has served in the Senate since 2013 and previously served in the House of Representatives representing South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District.
The GOP senator has spoken in the past in personal and emotional terms about his life experience and how he has faced unfair police scrutiny as a Black man.
“In many cities and towns across America, there is a deep divide between the Black community and law enforcement. A trust gap, a tension that has been growing for decades. And as a family, one American family, we cannot ignore these issues,” Scott said in a speech on the Senate floor in 2016.
This story has been updated with additional developments Friday.