The U.S. has not made progress on race relations under President Obama, said Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottShocking killing renews tensions over police Democrat: 'Registration, engagement' are keys to toppling Sen. Tim Scott in South Carolina Passage of FASTER Act is critical for food allergy community MORE (R-S.C.), the first African-American senator from the South since Reconstruction.

“I would say that we have probably had a neutral position on progressing from a racial perspective in America over the last few years,” he said in an interview Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”


“We have not made as much progress as we would like to have seen,” added Scott, also the only African-American to be elected to both the House and Senate. “The last six years have been challenging.”

Lawmakers have been focused on race relations this weekend, the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.”

The president and many members of Congress, including Scott, traveled to Selma, Ala., to commemorate the aborted march from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery, which ended with state troopers beating up 600 marchers.

The incident brought historic attention to America’s racial injustice.

But 50 years later, Scott said much work remains for the economic security of the African-American community.

“Unemployment rate is near 12 percent overall,” he said. “The poverty rate is near 28 percent. I will tell you that the last six years have not been good for most folks, middle America and down.”

The Selma march also helped push through the Voting Rights Act in 1965, which prohibited racial discrimination in voting.

The bill required certain southern states to seek federal government approval before changing voting laws. Recent Supreme Court decisions that rolled back portions of that provision have prompted Congress to reconsider the measure.

“To specifically punish six southern states for atrocities that happened 40 or 50 years ago without updating that formula seems discriminatory in and of itself,” Scott said.

“What I would support is take a second view at the Voting Rights Act,” he continued. “And see how we can apply it universally to all Americans, every place, and let’s judge people and states based on their performance today.”

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who was a leader of the historic Selma march, has introduced a bill that would restore the portions of the Voting Right Act struck down by the Supreme Court.

Scott indicated he wouldn’t support such a measure.

“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 current state of affairs,” he said.