REPUBLICAN lawmakers erupted in anger on Thursday after a Democratic congressman accused the GOP of spewing "racist trash" as the House passed a bill that would make Washington DC a state.
In a scathing speech on the House floor, Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones said: "I've had enough of my colleagues' racist insinuations that somehow, the people of Washington, DC, are incapable or even unworthy of our democracy."
The progressive freshman then called out Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton for saying DC wouldn't be a "well-rounded, working class state."
"I had no idea there were so many syllables in the word 'white,'" Jones fired back.
He also took issue with Republican Rep. Jody Hice, who claimed that DC does not deserve statehood because it 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," Jones continued.
House Republicans could be heard shouting out in objection to the remarks.
"The truth is," Jones continued, "there is no good faith argument for disenfranchising over 700,000 people, Mr. Speaker, most of whom are people of color."
Republican lawmakers again interrupted to call for a point of order.
Maryland Rep. Andy Harris asked for Jones to withdraw his comments.
A heated back and forth ensued, but Jones eventually agreed to strike his remarks from the record.
But he went on to say the GOP's "desperate objections" to making DC a state "are about fear that in DC, 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," he continued.
Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, of Maryland, who sat behind Jones during the exchange, told Forbes that Harris objected because “something that he said that rubbed Harris the wrong way.”
A spokesperson for Jones said he "stands by what he said" and only acceded to GOP demands to "avoid an unnecessary vote".
"[Jones] was simply calling out GOP opposition to D.C. statehood for what it is: racist trash," the spokesperson continued.
Harris, meanwhile, said Jones' comments were "unbecoming of a Representative and violates the rules of the House,” particularly at a “time of growing discord".
The bill, titled HR 51, passed in a party-line vote of 216-208, sending the legislation to the US Senate.
It's the second such vote to take place in the last year.
The bill would turn residential D.C. into the “State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth” and leave the Washington Mall as the federal district.
It will need at least 10 Republican votes to pass in the Senate.
President Joe Biden has said he's supportive of the DC statehood.
In a statement, the White House said DC residents have been subject to “taxation without representation and denial of self-governance is an affront to the democratic values on which our nation was founded.”
“Establishing the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth as the 51st state will make our Union stronger and more just,” the statement said.
“Washington DC has a robust economy, a rich culture, and a diverse population of Americans from all walks of life who are entitled to full and equal participation in our democracy.”
DC has roughly 712,000 residents, which is on par with Delaware and Alaska, and more than Vermont and Wyoming.
However, those areas have two senators in each while DC has none.
Democrats and other advocates of the bill have framed their support of the bill around racial justice and civil rights causes, such as the suppression of minority voters.
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also pointed out the DC's budget is larger than 12 states.
"D.C. residents have been fighting for voting rights and autonomy for 220 years, with a full 86 percent recently voting for statehood. And it is well past the time to grant them the rights that they have been fighting for and that they deserve," she said.
Republicans have rejected such arguments, instead suggesting that Democrats are orchestrating a power grab to retain control of Congress.