GOP senator blasts Washington officials, claims DC would not be a 'well-rounded working-class state'

Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonLoeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection More conservatives break with Trump over election claims Warnock hit by Republicans over 'cannot serve God and the military' comment MORE (R-Ark.) issued stinging criticism aimed at Washington, D.C., city officials on Thursday during a speech opposing the District of Columbia's bid for statehood.

The Arkansas Republican questioned the leadership of Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience DC limits indoor dining, gatherings The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans MORE (D) and former Mayor Marion Barry (D), who died in 2014, during a speech on the Senate floor.

"Would you trust Mayor Bowser to keep Washington safe if she were given the powers of a governor? Would you trust Marion Barry?" Cotton asked.


Bowser's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

He went on to claim that the District, which has a population of 705,749, has "virtually no residents" and would result in "Donald and Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump holds his last turkey pardon ceremony Watch live: Trump pardons Thanksgiving turkey Secret Service agents asked about transferring to Florida to guard Trump after he leaves office: report MORE" having their own three Electoral College votes upon changing their voter registrations to Washington, D.C.

In another section of the speech, Cotton conceded that the city actually had more residents than some smaller states such as Wyoming, but claimed that such states had "well-rounded" economies, while the District, he claimed, did not.

"Yes, Wyoming is smaller than Washington by population, but it has three times as many workers in mining, logging and construction, and 10 times as many workers in manufacturing. In other words, Wyoming is a well-rounded working-class state," he said.

Those remarks were sharply rebuked on social media, with many noting that nearly half (49 percent, according to the 2017 census) of the District's residents are African American and suggesting that Cotton's "well-rounded" remark referred to the racial makeup of Wyoming's population, which is largely white. Others suggested that his criticism of Barry and Bowser, who are both black, centered on their race as well.


The senator's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Democrats have lined up support behind the bill to grant statehood to the District in the House, where it is likely to pass, but the bill is unlikely to make progress in the GOP-held Senate.

The White House has also threatened to veto the bill, calling it unconstitutional.