US Senate Republicans tap Tim Scott to respond to Biden’s first speech to Congress

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US Senator Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the chamber and a leading voice on police reform, will deliver his party’s response to President Joe Biden’s address to Congress next week, when Biden is expected to urge action on the issue.

Scott, a rising star within his party, will give his response on Wednesday after Biden makes his first speech to Congress since becoming president on Jan. 20.

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The White House has said the Democratic president will talk about the importance of putting policing reform measures in place.

Republican congressional leaders announced Scott’s selection two days after Derek Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted of murdering George Floyd, who was Black, by pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.

Scott is among a bipartisan group of lawmakers trying to craft a police reform bill that can be passed by the Senate and House of Representatives and signed into law by Biden in response to the death of Floyd and a growing number of Black men and women who have died at the hands of police.

“We face serious challenges on multiple fronts, but I am as confident as I have ever been in the promise and potential of America,” Scott, 55, said in a statement. “I look forward to having an honest conversation with the American people and sharing Republicans’ optimistic vision.”

The South Carolina lawmaker introduced a policing bill last summer during worldwide protests sparked by Floyd’s death.

His bill failed in the Senate after Democrats said it relied too much on incentives rather than mandating changes.

The Democratic-led House earlier this year passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which aims to put a stop to aggressive law enforcement tactics. It has not yet been considered by the Senate.

Read more: Minneapolis ex-policeman Chauvin found guilty of murder in George Floyd case

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