David M. Rubin
Tim Scott Talks Bipartisanship; Votes "No" on Biden Cabinet Choices
Updated: Apr 3, 2021
The jockeying in Washington to stake out who is more bipartisan is in full swing.
Senator Tim Scott took to Fox News on March 12 to blast President Biden for policy positions that “have created chasms between the Left and the Right, between the rich and the poor, between Black and white.” With this statement, Scott positioned himself as a true bipartisan presence in DC.
However, Llet’s examine this claim in a way that highlights how Scott talks the talk of bipartisanship but doesn’t walk the walk.
One simple test of Scott’s willingness to work with the Biden administration are his votes on Biden’s cabinet nominations. Senator Lindsey Graham has said that a new President has the right to choose his own team, and Graham has largely lived up to that promise. Not Scott.
At this writing, 17 Biden nominees have received confirmation votes in the Senate, from Avril Haines (National Intelligence) through Deb Haaland (Interior). Of these 17, Graham voted to confirm 14. He opposed Miguel Cardona for Education, Jennifer Granholm for Energy, and Alejandro Mayorkas for Homeland Security. Graham pretty much walked the walk.
Scott, by contrast, voted “No” on 10 of the 17 and missed the Avril Haines vote. He supported only 6 of the nominees.
I combed Scott’s website looking for explanations of his “No” votes. He offered a hint about only one: — Cardona for Education. Scott is a big believer in charter and religious schools. He thinks public schools cheat poor and minority students out of a good education. Cardona comes from the public school realm. That was enough for Scott.
But some of the other “No” votes are truly head scratching. Why vote against Pete Buttigieg for Transportation, an issue about which Scott has said and done little? Buttigieg was confirmed by an 86-13 vote, truly bipartisan.
Or Gina Raimondo for Commerce, who is among Biden’s more centrist appointees? She was confirmed 84-15. What is not to like about her, Senator Scott?
For me the most astounding “No” vote was against Merrick Garland for Attorney General. Does Scott really think the rule of law will be in weaker hands with Garland as AG than it was with Jeff Sessions and William Barr, both of whom Scott voted to confirm? Are the rights of minorities in South Carolina in better hands with Garland or Sessions? We all know the answer to that.
I suspect that when Xavier Becerra comes up for confirmation as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Scott will vote “No” again. But at least he has telegraphed his reason: Becerra supports a woman’s right to choose. Scott does not.
Let’s leave aside that Scott, in an utterly partisan fashion, voted to confirm some of the most crooked, incompetent, and unethical Trump appointees ever to assume the title “Secretary.” Remember Ryan Zinke at Interior? He resigned in 2019 as he was being investigated for ethical and potential criminal improprieties. Or Tom Price at HHS? He resigned after only seven months for improperly using civilian and military charters. Or Ben Carson at HUD, who had no experience qualifying him for the job?
These cabinet secretaries were approved by our bipartisan Senator Scott. But not Garland, or Secretary of State Antony Blinken, or EPA Administrator Michael Regan. Scott’s standards are truly Trumpian.
I wonder what sort of message of bipartisanship Scott thought he was sending to President Biden with this flurry of “No” votes? The next time the Trump-Republican Scott starts criticizing Democrats for their lack of cooperation, he should be reminded of these shameful votes.
Senator Scott faces voters in November of 2022. He won’t have Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, as he did in 2016. He will have to run on his record, which is hardly bipartisan. He remains a Trump Republican, right down to his confirmation votes.
Blogger David M. Rubin is the former Dean of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He is a former columnist for the Syracuse Post-Standard and an expert on First Amendment law (speech and press). He lives in Summerville.