The South Carolina Republican’s decision to play the voicemails comes one day before the Senate is set to take a key procedural vote on his legislation. Scott, the only African-American Republican senator, has opened up in recent years about his experience with racism, including instances of being racially profiled by police. He’s also had to push back vehemently on suggestions of being a “token” for the GOP and has been called racial slurs on Twitter.
Following the Senate lunch, Scott urged his colleagues to vote to proceed Wednesday on his bill, calling it an open process and the beginning of debate. Democrats are expected to vote the motion down, saying that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is not negotiating in a bipartisan way.
“All of us do not have to tackle the issues like I did when I was 16 and 17 and 18 and 25 and 26 and 30,” Scott said. “We have the ability to say to the young man and to that young lady, we don’t just see you, we didn’t just hear you. We acted on it.”
Scott added that the bill is not just about his own personal experience but about potential common ground between the GOP and Democratic proposals.
“Why am I so passionate about this issue beyond my 18 stops as a person of color?” Scott asked. “In my legislation and the Republican Senate legislation and the House legislation there is so much common ground and to … lose this moment for the kids and the young adults watching this process would be terrible.”