Sen. Tim Scott: Race Relations in ‘Neutral Position’ Since Obama Presidency

Melanie Arter | March 9, 2015 | 12:32pm EDT
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Rep. Tim Scott (R.-S.C.) (AP Photo)

( – Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction, said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that race relations have been stuck in “neutral” since President Barack Obama took office.

“I would say that we’ve had probably a neutral position on progressing from a racial perspective in America over the last few years,” Scott said when asked how the first black president in America has done in terms of improving race relations.

Scott visited Selma, Ala., over the weekend to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the march known as “Bloody Sunday.”

“We have not made as much progress as some would like to have seen, and if you look at it specifically, the challenges faced by black America, the last six years have been challenging,” Scott said, citing overall unemployment near 12 percent and a poverty rate near 28 percent.

“I will tell you that the last six years have not been good for most folks – middle America and down. This has not been a good economy for those of us who live in middle-class America and moving down,” he said.

When asked if he would push for restoring the Voting Rights Act as the president suggested, Scott said everyone agrees that all Americans have the right to vote.

“The question is how do we get there? To specifically punish six Southern states for atrocities that happened 40 or 50 years ago, without updating that formula seems to be discriminatory in and of itself,” Scott said.

Scott said he would support a new Voting Rights Act that is applied “universally to all Americans every place” where people and states are judged based on today’s performance instead of their performance decades ago.

Scott noted that not only was he elected statewide to the U.S. Senate by South Carolina voters, but Gov. Nikki Haley is an Indian-American woman in a state that was “the home, the start of the Civil War.”

“So there’s no doubt about the fact that there has been amazing progress throughout the South, and we should make sure that the formulas that are used do not punish the history of the state, but should represent the present state of affairs,” he added.

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