Congressional Republican leadership announced Thursday that Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) will deliver the party’s response speech following President Joe Biden’s joint address to Congress next Wednesday.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) praised Scott for his commitment to creating a more united country during his time in office.
“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 wrote in part, adding: “Nobody is better at communicating why far-left policies fail working Americans. Senate Republicans are looking forward to this address from our distinguished colleague.”
In a statement, Scott said he is both “excited and honored” to address the nation next week.
“We face serious challenges on multiple fronts, but I am as confident as I have ever been in the promise and potential of America,” the senator continued. “I look forward to having an honest conversation with the American people and sharing Republicans’ optimistic vision for expanding opportunity and empowering working families.”
Scott, the sole Black Republican in the Senate, has served in the position since 2013. He previously served in both the South Carolina House of Representatives, and in the U.S. House of Representatives.
He currently serves on the Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; the Committee on Finance; the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pension; the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship; and is the ranking member of the Special Committee on Aging.
Scott is the lead Republican negotiator in Congress' efforts for police reform; President Biden will urge Congress to consider police reform and reiterate his support for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act during his joint address.
Wednesday, April 28 will mark President Biden’s first address in front of both the House and the Senate. The speech is one mandated by the Constitution, which in Article II, Section 3, clause 1, requires the president to “give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
Since the 1980s, presidents have not considered their first-year joint address to Congress a “State of the Union” in name, although it serves largely the same purpose, per the Congressional Research Service.
The opposition address is a tradition, not a requirement, dating back to the 1960s. By the 1970s, most major news networks began broadcasting the opposition response directly after the State of the Union address — cementing it as an expected part of American governmental proceedings.
In 2020, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) delivered the Democrats' response to then-President Donald Trump’s final State of the Union address in English; Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) delivered a rebuttal in Spanish.