- The Washington Times - Friday, June 26, 2020

Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, spoke out strongly Thursday against granting statehood to Washington, D.C., ahead of the House of Representatives voting on the matter Friday.

Mr. Cotton rallied for more than 18 minutes on the Senate floor against making D.C. the nation’s 51st state on the eve of the historic House vote taking place this week.

The senator offered several arguments against granting statehood to D.C., which would give its more than 700,000 tax-paying residents voting representation in the House and Senate.

He consequently faced condemnation and accusations of racism over the speech for targeting a city with a large Black population and picking on two of its Black leaders by name.

Mr. Cotton singled out in his speech current D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the late former mayor, Marion Barry, both Democrats, and questioned if either of the African American politicians would be capable of governing D.C. as a state.

“If most of Washington was under the control not of the federal government but of a left-wing politician like Muriel Bowser, who frequently takes the side of rioters against law enforcement,” said Mr. Cotton. “Would you trust Mayor Bowser to keep Washington safe if she were given the powers of a governor? Would you trust Marion Barry? More important, should we risk the safety of our capital on such a gamble?”

Mr. Cotton also argued that granting statehood to D.C., whose registered voters are mostly Democrats, would amount to a “naked power grab” by the party and “rig the rules of Democracy,” in addition to criticizing the sorts of jobs its residents have. 

“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,” said Mr. Cotton. “A new state of Washington would not be.”

Among those who slammed Mr. Cotton over his speech were Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, both Democrats, among others.

“Job shaming! Awesome! I’m in. Great idea. This CANNOT go wrong,” Mr. Murphy said sarcastically on Twitter. “Let’s rank the virtue of every profession and if your state has too many workers in the bottom 20% you get kicked out of America. Who wants to start??”

“DC residents are Americans who pay federal taxes and they shouldn’t get screwed just because Tom Cotton doesn’t think they have the right jobs,” tweeted Mr. Schatz.

Other critics of Mr. Cotton’s comments called his remarks racist, meanwhile, noting around 47% of D.C. residents are Black and roughly nine-in-ten people in Wyoming are White.

“We don’t have to pretend this isn’t racism, it isn’t subtle,” said Rep. Don Beyer, Virginia Democrat.

Messages requesting comment from Mr. Cotton and Ms. Bowser were not immediately answered.

The House is expected to vote Friday in favor of granting statehood to D.C. The effort is likely to face strong opposition in the Senate where Republicans like Mr. Cotton currently maintain a majority, however.

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