On Thursday, the United States Senate debated the issue of granting the District of Columbia statehood, thereby granting the district representation in Congress and expanded authority over its budget.
Republicans are largely against the idea, considering that statehood for DC would almost certainly result in two safely blue Senate seats.
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR)—who recently sparked controversy by endorsing military force against protesters—used fear to sow opposition of the bill during a floor debate.
Cotton asked lawmakers if they would trust Democratic DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, or former DC Mayor Marion Barry—both of whom are Black—to protect the capital:
"Would you trust Mayor Bowser to keep Washington safe if she were given the powers of a governor? Would you trust Marion Barry? More important, should we risk the safety of our capital on such a gamble?"
He accused Bowser of siding with "rioters."
In an attempt to discredit arguments that DC's population merits statehood, Cotton conceded that Wyoming—which became a state in 1890—has 200 thousand fewer people.
He then implied that Wyoming, which is over 90 percent white, merited statehood because its workers contribute more than DC, which is nearly 50 percent Black:
"Yes, Wyoming is smaller than Washington by population, but it has three times as many workers in mining, logging and construction, and ten times as many workers in manufacturing. In other words, Wyoming is a well-rounded working-class state. A new state of Washington would not be."
People heard Cotton's subtext loud and clear.
People weren't convinced that his concern was with DC's professions.
Tom Cotton is now trending on Twitter.