Heated argument erupts after Rep. Mondaire Jones calls GOP objections to DC statehood ‘racist trash’

GOP House members on Thursday erupted in heated opposition after Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) condemned their objections to Washington, D.C., statehood as “racist trash” during a speech on the chamber floor.

“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,” Jones, a progressive first-term lawmaker, said.

His comments triggered an uproar from Republicans on the floor.

“The truth is there is no good faith argument for disenfranchising 700,000 people, most of whom are people of color,” Jones continued as GOP lawmakers called for a point of order.

Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) asked for Jones to agree to have his remarks stricken from the congressional record.

Harris said in a statement to Forbes that Jones’s statement was “unbecoming of a Representative and violates the rules of the House,” particularly at a “time of growing discord,” and claimed Jones “realized his words were inappropriate.”

After some heated back and forth, Jones, according to Forbes, consented to withdraw the comments from the record and continued with his speech, saying that the GOP’s “desperate objections are about fear.”

“Fear that in D.C. their white supremacist politics will no longer play,” he added. “Fear that soon enough, white supremacist politics won’t work anywhere in America. Fear that if they don’t rig our democracy, they won’t win.”

D.C., whose population is just under 50 percent Black, carries three electoral votes in presidential elections but is not represented in the Senate and its House delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), cannot vote on legislation.

Jones comments were objecting to remarks from Republican Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.), who said that granting statehood would prevent the nation’s capital from being a “well-rounded working-class state.”

“I had no idea there were so many syllables in the word ‘white,’ ” Jones, who is Black, said in response to the Cotton’s comment.

He also took a swipe at Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) after he said that if D.C. became a state it would be the only one “without an airport, without a car dealership, without a capital city and without a landfill.” The District actually has a number of dealerships.

“My goodness. With all the racist trash my colleagues have brought to this debate, I can see why my colleagues are worried about a place to put it,” Jones said.

The House ultimately voted 216-208 along party lines to approve legislation that would make D.C. the 51st state, sending the bill forward for an uphill climb in the Senate.

Republicans fiercely opposed the measure, arguing that Democrats are attempting a power grab because D.C. statehood would likely lead to two more Democratic senators and a Democratic House member, given the district population’s political leanings.

The Biden White House on Tuesday formally declared its support for the legislation, saying it would provide the residents of the District with “long overdue full representation in Congress.”

Tags Andy Harris D.C. statehood District of Columbia Eleanor Holmes Norton Jody Hice landfills Mondaire Jones Tom Cotton Washington D.C.
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