Rep. Mondaire Jones slammed racist comments from Republicans suggesting the district wasn't 'working class' enough to be a state, among other things.
House Republicans reacted angrily on Thursday after New York Rep. Mondaire Jones (D) criticized the party for pushing "racist trash" during the ongoing debate over statehood for Washington, D.C.
Jones made his comments during a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, just before the chamber passed a bill to grant the district statehood.
"I have had enough of my colleagues' racist insinuations that somehow the people of Washington, D.C., are incapable or even unworthy of our democracy," said Jones.
He noted comments made in June 2020 by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) comparing Washington with Wyoming, the latter of which Cotton described as a "well-rounded working-class state."
"Washington would not be," Cotton said at the time.
According to the Census Bureau, Wyoming has a population that is 92.5% white and 1.3% Black. Washington, D.C., by contrast, is 46% white and 46% Black.
Referencing Cotton's use of the term "working-class," Jones said Thursday, "I had no idea that there were so many syllables in the word 'white."
Jones also took to task Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), who in March said that Washington shouldn't be a state because it lacks "a landfill."
"One of my House Republican colleagues said that D.C. shouldn't be a state because the District doesn't have a landfill," said Jones. "My goodness, with all the racist trash my colleagues have brought to this debate, I can see why they're worried about having a place to put it."
At that point, Republicans interrupted Jones' speech, yelling and protesting his characterization of their rhetoric. One Republican member demanded that Jones' comments be stricken from the official record.
Jones consented to having his comments withdrawn, but eventually resumed his speech.
"The truth is, there is no good faith argument for disenfranchising over 700,000 people, most of whom are people of color," he said.
He added, "These desperate objections are about fear. Fear that, in D.C., their white supremacist politics will no longer play. Fear that soon enough white supremacist politics won't work anywhere in America. Fear that if they don't rig our democracy, they will not win."
The statehood measure ultimately passed the House by a vote of 216-208. All Democrats voted in favor of statehood, while every vote in opposition came from Republicans.
The proposal now heads to the Senate, where it faces long odds and strong Republican pushback.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.