Ruta Smith file photo

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott took the national stage Wednesday to make the Republican response to Democratic President Joe Biden’s speech to a joint session of Congress. The Senate’s only Black Republican, Scott said, “America is not a racist country” and said the economy under previous Republican President Donald Trump boomed, especially for Black, Hispanic and Asian people, he said. Scott also claimed Biden has caused the U.S. to become more divided. More: AP News, The Post and Courier, The New York Times, and NPR

In other headlines:

NextEra withdraws Santee Cooper bid. The Post and Courier is reporting that NextEra Energy has withdrawn its offer to buy Santee Cooper. This means the public utility will likely remain in state hands for the time being, effectively ending the years-long debate over whether to sell it following the 2017 fallout for its share of a $9 billion hole in the ground. More: The Post and Courier

U.S.’s oldest bottle of whiskey has S.C. link. A bottle of whiskey priced at $40,000 is likely the oldest bottle of whiskey distilled in the United States. The grandfather of the current owner received the bottle as a gift from South Carolina Gov. James F. Byrnes, who also served as a U.S. senator and was a close friend of President Franklin Roosevelt. He served as governor in the early 1950s. The whiskey has been dated to have been made between 1763 and 1803, making it the oldest American whiskey known in existence. More: The New York Times

Bill allowing college athletes to cash-in goes to governor. If Gov. Henry McMaster signs a Legislature-passed bill, college athletes in South Carolina would be able to be paid from outside organizations for autograph sessions, guest appearances, scholarships and other events using their name, image or likeness. But the law would not go into effect for a year to see if the NCAA or Congress settles the matter. More: AP News

S.C. launches statewide effort against human trafficking. The South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force on Wednesday announced the launch of the South Carolina Highway Heroes Campaign to help fight human trafficking in the Palmetto State. The campaign offers a free Truckers Against Trafficking online training to the state’s more than 100,000 commercially licensed drivers in the state. More: Fox 28 Savannah 

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