Sen. Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, told CNBC on Wednesday that NFL players should not protest during the national anthem.
"Every man, woman, child in this country should stand for the national anthem. That should go without question," the South Carolina senator said.
Although Scott didn't agree with the form of protest, he said Americans should ask themselves why the players are kneeling.
"If we were able to reinforce the fact that we all should stand and delve into the challenges that have some players kneeling, we'll be in a better place as a country," he said in an interview on "Squawk Box." "We should all seek for unity and equality in this nation."
President Donald Trump has been tweeting about the issue and said players who don't stand should be fired.
The firestorm started when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem last season to protest the treatment of African-Americans in the United States. He is no longer in the NFL.
On Monday night, the Dallas Cowboys, including owner Jerry Jones, knelt before the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in solidarity with the hundreds players who took a knee over the weekend after Trump's remarks. But when the national anthem started, the Dallas and Arizona Cardinal players stood arm in arm.
Scott said the Cowboys did a "good job" in finding a way to be clear in their support of the challenges in this country while respecting the anthem.
In a separate CNBC interview on Wednesday, Sen. Pat Toomey, Republican from Pennsylvania, said NFL players have the right to protest. "But I think it's totally inappropriate."
"What they ought to do is show their respect for the people who helped secure the country that they have," he added.
Earlier this month, Trump and Senator Scott met to discuss race relations in the wake of the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
After the meeting, Scott told reporters he was "encouraged and surprised" by Trump, who listened more than he talked. But Scott also criticized Trump for assigning blame in a way that put white supremacist protesters on equal footing with counterdemonstrators.
Scott added Wednesday that the country has evolved over the last 50 to 60 years. It's now "un-American to be racist," he said.
—The Associated Press contributed to this report