Rep. Mondaire Jones slams GOP’s arguments against DC statehood as ‘racist trash’

Freshman Congressman Jones' remarks on the House floor drew an immediate eruption from across the aisle

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Freshman Congressman Mondaire Jones did not mince words on Thursday when addressing Republicans over their opposition to D.C. statehood on the House floor.

Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) on the House floor. (Photo: C-SPAN)

Read More: House passes DC Statehood bill to make capital the 51st state

Just before Democrats voted to pass H.R. 51, a bill that if passed in the U.S. Senate would make Washington the nation’s 51st state, Jones (D-N.Y.) had strong words for the GOP’s arguments as to why D.C. (which has a plurality of Black and brown residents) should not become a U.S. state.

“I have had enough of my colleagues’ racist insinuation that somehow the people of D.C. are incapable or even unworthy of our Democracy,” Jones said. “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.”

Democrats have argued that granting statehood to the district is about morality and ending “taxation without representation” for the more than 700,000 D.C. residents. While Washingtonians in the district are able to vote in the presidential election, they do not have representation in the U.S. senate and have only a non-voting member of Congress in longtime Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.

U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton
U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) speaks outside Union Station on March 31, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Green New Deal Network)

If Washington was to become a state, it would have full-voting representation in Congress, including at least one U.S. representative and two U.S. Senate seats, bringing the total number of U.S. senators to 102.

Republicans have dismissed H.R. 51 as a power grab by Democrats, pointing to the fact that Washington, D.C. overwhelmingly votes Democratic. But Jones, a rising progressive voice in the Democratic Party, said the GOP’s arguments against the bill is “racist trash.”

“One of my House Republican colleagues said that D.C. shouldn’t be a state because the District doesn’t have a landfill.'”

He continued, “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’ remarks on the House floor drew an immediate eruption from across the aisle and calls from Republicans to have his statement withdrawn from the record, to which Jones ultimately obliged before finishing his floor speech.

“The truth is there is no good faith argument for disenfranchising more than 700,000 people, most of whom are people of color. These desperate objections are about fear,” he said, “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 rid our democracy, they will not win. Today Democrats are standing up for a multi-racial democracy to democratize all 51 states in this country.”

Read More: Rep. Mondaire Jones says Breyer should retire from SCOTUS

H.R. 51 was ultimately passed in the House 216-208, but it faces an uphill battle in the Senate. Even if all 50 Democratic senators supported the bill, Democrats would need at least 10 Republican senators to support the the legislation. Republicans, however, would likely block the statehood legislation by utilizing the filibuster, a procedure in the Senate used to delay or prevent a vote on a bill.

Mondaire Jones, 33, made history in January when he was sworn in as the nation’s first openly gay Black man to serve in the United States Congress, along with fellow New York Congressman Ritchie Torres. So far, he’s been a vocal member of the party’s left wing advocating for expanding the Supreme Court, eliminating at $50,000 in student loans for American borrowers and abolishing the filibuster.

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