A picture of Senator Tim Scott
Tim S.
Republican SC

About Sen. Tim
  • Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013—Motion to Proceed—Continued

    by Senator Tim Scott

    Posted on 2014-01-15

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    SCOTT. Madam President, when I was growing up, my now 93-year-old granddaddy would hold the newspaper and read it while he drank his coffee. Every morning it seemed he was always focused on reading the paper. He looked like an executive, a doctor or an attorney, always making sure his grandsons saw him reading.

    I learned several years later that my granddaddy couldn't read, but he was wise enough to model the behavior that he wanted his grandsons to follow. The circumstances of his life forced him out of the classroom at a very young age and into the cotton fields to help support his family. But granddaddy has now lived long enough to see a grandson elected to Congress and another grandson earn the rank of command sergeant major in the U.S. Army. Only 1 percent of NCOs reach that rank.

    In a single lifetime, families can go from not having a fair chance to learn to read to seeing their kids graduate from college, as my grandfather has seen two of his grandsons graduate. That is the power of America. That is the power of opportunity.

    Over the last several months, I have spent many hours talking and working with people from every walk of life, beginning when I was bagging groceries at the local Piggly Wiggly or waiting tables at the California Dreaming or 2 weeks ago when I took a ride on the public bus just to have an opportunity to sit back and talk with everyday Americans about their hopes, their dreams, and their fears or, last weekend, as I swept floors at the local Moe's restaurant. What I have heard is that people in America and throughout South Carolina are hungry for opportunity. They are working hard, but still they are struggling.

    People want to work. They want to get ahead, and they still want a better life for their children and their grandchildren. So the questions for those of us in government are simple: Are we a part of the problem or are we a part of the solution? Do we make things more difficult or are we an ally in this struggle to get ahead? Are we trying the same tactics and getting the same results? It has been said several times that insanity is doing the same things the same ways and hoping for different results. After a nearly 50-year government-led war on poverty, the poverty rates are increasing. Were this a military conflict, we would have changed our strategy decades ago, but somehow we fail to learn and continue to believe that next year it will be different. It has not been different in nearly half a century.

    I propose a new way forward--a new way forward so a little girl can rise from the depths of poverty and become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, a new way forward that will create a place where young men raised in a single-parent household and living in the inner city housing projects can become a world-renowned surgeon, a new way forward so an intelligent young lady living in rural South Carolina who ages out of the foster care program can still afford a college education. I propose a new way forward, and our opportunity agenda does just that.

    We will help to turn neglected neighborhoods ravished by poverty into centers of excellence. We will see that these amazing centers of excellence will become economic engines because of the creativity of the people living in the neighborhoods. We will see economic activity in a place that we once thought not possible.

    Today, too many Americans are trapped in low-paying jobs because they lack the skills to improve their incomes. These folks are not asking for a handout; they are asking for a hand up. Every day Americans are struggling, working hard, looking for a way to change their destiny.

    That is why we have introduced the SKILLS Act. With nearly 4 million jobs vacant in America today, we believe the skills gap can be covered because of the SKILLS Act.

    Our second bill we have filed is called the CHOICE Act, Creating Hope and Opportunity for Individuals and Communities through Education. One of the opportunities we see within the CHOICE Act is for those kids who have special needs to have the opportunity to make their education dollars portable. I believe every single American deserves the opportunity to realize their full potential, but too many of these young kids--bright kids with special needs--do not receive the education that is best for them. So the CHOICE Act provides their parents with portability so they can choose the school that best fits the needs of their kids.

    The American Opportunity Agenda encourages each of us to reach our full potential. In the coming months we will introduce legislation that encourages reform of our welfare programs. We will fight to change our Tax Code so small businesses can hire more people and not simply pay higher taxes. Finally, we will work with anyone, anywhere, at any time to reduce the regulatory burdens that stand in the way and close the doors of opportunity.

    Last week we submitted an amendment that restores a 40-hour workweek that was destroyed in ObamaCare. The effort to restore the 40-hour workweek has been led by my colleague, the Senator from Maine Susan Collins, who understands the devastation caused by ObamaCare, where more than 20 million Americans face the loss of up to 25 percent of their income when they move from 40 hours a week to less than 30 hours a week. I applaud my colleague and others for standing strong [[Page S345]] and standing tall to make sure we have a serious debate about the income inequality that is caused by ObamaCare. The effort to restore the 40-hour workweek should be something we all champion, realizing its massive impact on our economy.

    I have lived a family's journey from cotton to Congress. I know the sense of empowerment and optimism it provides. Once the standard is set in a family, as my grandfather set it in our family, and once the standard is set in a community or a State, the generations to come will set even higher expectations for themselves because success is created almost anywhere in America today. It happens in studio apartments, at kitchen tables; it happens in garages and classrooms throughout America, but it doesn't often happen in government conference rooms in Washington. I believe, and I have experienced, that with a good education, strong work skills, and the help of our Heavenly Father, all things are truly possible.

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