Rep. Tim Scott, the first African-American Republican elected to the House from South Carolina since Reconstruction, today put to rest months of speculation when he announced that he would not be joining the Congressional Black Caucus.
In October, senior CBC member Rep. James Clyburn told The Root that joining the caucus would be Scott’s decision. “Whoever comes to the Congress and wants to join up with the caucus, they need to make their intentions known,” he said. “And if Tim Scott is interested in joining the caucus, he would be welcome.” Alas, Scott declined that semblance of an invitation late on Wednesday.
“While I recognize the efforts of the CBC and appreciate their invitation for me to caucus with them, I will not be joining them at this time,” wrote Scott in an e-mailed statement. “My campaign has been about themes that unite all Americans — restoring the American dream by reducing the tax burden, decreasing government interference in the private sector and restoring fiscal responsibility, and I don’t think those ideals are advanced by focusing on one group of people. … The black community, like all communities, will benefit when businesses can use their profits to hire more workers instead of paying higher taxes; when companies decide to locate in America instead of overseas; and when our government no longer saddles our children’s futures with ever-increasing debt.”
The CBC’s last African-American Republican member was Connecticut’s Gary Franks, who retired in 1997. J.C. Watts, a black Republican congressman who came after Franks, chose not to join the CBC, calling it a group of “race-hustling poverty pimps.”
With Scott uninterested in joining the CBC, there’s just one hope for the black caucus to have any modicum of a bipartisan effort: freshman Rep. Allen West from Florida. A fiery, Tea Party-backed candidate, West said throughout his campaign that he intended to join the CBC. Since winning his election, however, he has yet to make a move toward actually fulfilling that promise. It will be interesting to see whether Scott’s reticence motivates or detracts from West’s eagerness.