Politics Mondaire Jones Suggests Republicans 'Engaging in Racist Activity' by Opposing DC Statehood
Statehood or self-determination? Tensions over Puerto Rico status rise amid opposing bills
“Politics are playing a role in this process that is really unacceptable," José Fuentes, chairman of the Puerto Rico Statehood Council, said.The Committee on Natural Resources Office of Insular Affairs hosted a legislative hearing on Wednesday to discuss the competing bills in an effort to engage Congress on Puerto Rico's future — a subject many members have avoided in the past.
Freshman Representative Mondaire Jones, a New York Democrat, suggested that Republican lawmakers are "engaging in racist activity" by opposing statehood for Washington, D.C. and that they "uphold systems of white supremacy."
Democrats andin are whether D.C. should be granted statehood, with the House of Representatives for the district in a party line vote on Thursday. Now the debate moves to the , where hold only narrow control and are unlikely to pass the legislation without ending the legislative filibuster or pushing it through the budget reconciliation process. As the nation's capital is a majority minority city, with about 700,000 total residents, Jones and other Democrats have argued that Republicans are disenfranchising minority voters and that it is "racist" to oppose statehood.
Democrats' ambitions narrow as political reality sets in
After a Trump era that emboldened its left flank, the party’s legislative agenda is gliding down from loftiness to pragmatism. “Passing infrastructure is more important than anything that we’re not sure that we can actually get the votes to pass,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), who supports both D.C. and Puerto Rico statehood. “Right now we need to focus our limited floor time on the most important stuff for the Biden administration to be successful and our country to be successful … if we can do the other stuff, great.
Under its, D.C. has no representation in the Senate, whereas all U.S. states have two senators—including Vermont and Wyoming, which have smaller populations. (The district does have a non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives.) Republicans argue that Democrats are attempting to rig the Senate, as it's widely expected that two new Senate seats for D.C. would be easily won by Democrats.
"If you uphold systems of white supremacy, even if you do not consider yourself to be racist, you are engaging in racist activity," Jones said Saturday during an interview with CNN. "There are 700,000 people in the District of Columbia—more than in the state of Wyoming and Vermont. And so the idea that we would disenfranchise, that we would tax them without representation—something we fought the Revolutionary War over, by the way—is unconscionable."
The fight for DC statehood gets its best chance yet
The House is slated to vote on enacting statehood for Washington, DC, today.This week, proponents of statehood will likely get one step closer to their best chance to changing that reality. On Thursday, the House of Representatives will vote on whether to make DC the nation’s 51st state. The vote comes just days after the White House put out an official statement of support for the bill, arguing “for far too long, the more than 700,000 people of Washington, D.C. have been deprived of full representation in the U.S. Congress.
Jones said that when D.C.'s racial demographics are compared to other states that have previously been granted statehood, "it is quite a sinister thing." He went on to say that "a system that disenfranchises 700,000-plus people is voter suppression on its face."
Some Republicans have proposed an alternative, suggesting that parts of D.C. should be ceded back to surrounding states so that the voters there would be directly represented by current senators. Representative Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, told Newsmax on Saturday that he agrees with Democrats' concerns about "taxation without representation," noting that he previously put forward a bill that would end federal taxes for residents of the district.
During a House floor speech regarding the statehood debate last week, Jones described his Republican colleagues' arguments as "racist and incendiary." He said that "the truth is there's no good argument for disenfranchising over 700,000 people" and said the GOP arguments against statehood are "racist trash."
House passes bill giving Washington, DC statehood
The bill faces serious hurdles in the Senate, where it likely won't receive the 60 votes necessary to overcome the filibuster.The legislation, known as the Washington, DC Admissions Act or HR 51, would make the District a state known as the Douglass Commonwealth, named for the revered Black abolitionist Fredrick Douglass. The final vote was 216 in favor and 208 opposed.
Newsweek reached out to multiple Republican lawmakers who have vocally opposed statehood for Washington, D.C. for comment.
Manchin opposition weakens DC statehood chances .
The centrist Senator is the first Democrat to oppose the creation of a 51st state.In a radio interview with West Virginia’s MetroNews Talkline Friday, Manchin threw cold water on the thus-far unified Democratic effort to approve DC statehood. Legislation to add the District as the 51st state passed the House last week on a strictly party-line vote, sending the bill to the Senate.