On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted on the issue of D.C. statehood—an initiative strongly supported by Democrats, who argue that the District of Columbia doesn't have adequate representation in Congress, despite having a greater population than two American states.
D.C., which is primarily Black and working class, reliably votes Democratic in presidential elections. While the district has only a non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives, and no representation in the United States Senate.
Eager to limit Democratic power in Congress, Republican lawmakers have issued a variety of arguments against making the District of Columbia the 51st state. One lobbyist for the Heritage Foundation argued before a Congressional committee that D.C. residents have adequate representation in Congress because lawmakers see their yard signs.
Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas sparked backlash last year after saying that although Wyoming—which is over 90 percent white—has fewer residents than D.C., Wyoming contributes "a well-rounded working-class state." He said that D.C., which is nearly 50 percent Black, "would not be."
Arguments like Cotton's have exposed the racial element in Republican hesitations to make D.C. a state. Similar to the way voter suppression laws supported by Republicans tend to target voters in predominantly Black communities, these lawmakers have railed against giving D.C.'s 700 thousand residents a voting voice in the House and Senate.
Democratic Representative Mondaire Jones (D-NY) called out his Republican colleagues in an impassioned rebuke, describing their arguments against statehood as "racist trash."
WATCH: Congressman @MondaireJones just spoke truth to power on the House floor about why some lawmakers oppose… https://t.co/ebezzN4sHK— The Leadership Conference (@The Leadership Conference)1619103257.0
"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. One Senate Republican said that D.C. wouldn't be a 'well-rounded working class state.' I had no idea there were so many syllables in the word 'white.'"
He wasn't even close to done:
"One of my House Republican colleagues said that D.C. shouldn't be a state because the district doesn't have a landfill. 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 this, Republican House members vocally erupted, demanding the Speaker Pro Tempore intervene.
Nevertheless, Jones persisted.
"The truth is, there is no good faith argument for disenfranchising over 700 thousand people, Mr. Speaker. Most of whom are people of color."
Republicans like Louie Gohmert of Texas urged the Speaker to strike Jones' words from the record, to which Jones acquiesced before continuing:
"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. Today, Democrats are standing up for a multiracial democracy. To democratize all 51 states in this country. I yield back."
Jones' words may have been struck from the record, but that doesn't mean they weren't immortalized.
It’s always racists who hate the word racists. https://t.co/DVkQ88BWhe— Yuh-Line Niou (@Yuh-Line Niou)1619105620.0
.@MondaireJones just absolutely tore into Republican dog-whistling on D.C. statehood on the House floor: “with all… https://t.co/DM870grZv1— Kumar Rao (@Kumar Rao)1619107047.0
Wow. The party obsessed with "free speech" and "competing ideas" just threw an absolute fit and demanded a congress… https://t.co/f7QzjvZTVY— Spek (@Spek)1619114520.0
They praised the Congressman for his unequivocal stance.
Rep. @MondaireJones held nothing back! God bless him! https://t.co/F2MkadgqR3— REGGIE, Esq. © (@REGGIE, Esq. ©)1619103643.0
"With all the racist trash my colleagues have brought to this debate ..." 🔥 Oh my @MondaireJones has no time for… https://t.co/3qBsoXxHFv— Murshed Zaheed (@Murshed Zaheed)1619108491.0
👏👏👏👏👏👏YES SIR!!!! https://t.co/GxFZIPZW9B— Scott Boyd (@Scott Boyd)1619108556.0
This is amazing https://t.co/57oF4OmaaL— taylorcg (@taylorcg)1619107757.0
Congressman Jones is not wrong. The republicans may have his words erased from the record, but the truth of those w… https://t.co/zrDFwddBkC— KayJay (@KayJay)1619106883.0
The House passed D.C. statehood along party lines. It now faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where Democrats have a razor-thin majority—and where the District of Columbia has no representation...for now.