“They plan to make the District of Columbia a state — that would give them two new Democratic senators — Puerto Rico a state, that would give them two more new Democratic senators, and as a former Supreme Court clerk yourself, you’ve surely noticed that they plan to expand the Supreme Court,” McConnell said in the interview last week , which drew increasing attention on social media in recent days.
He spoke as House Democrats are moving forward with plans to hold a hearing — and perhaps a floor vote — on D.C. statehood for the first time in decades. Pro-statehood activists have said they are delighted by the enthusiastic support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) but never expected to make much progress in the GOP-controlled Senate.
In the interview, McConnell seemed to lump D.C. statehood in with what he called Democrats’ “socialist” agenda.
“This is full-bore socialism on the march in the House,” he said. “And yeah, as long as I’m the majority leader of the Senate, none of that stuff is going anywhere.”
But Tuesday evening, an aide to the majority leader said McConnell sees statehood not as socialist, but as another example of government overreach on the part of Democrats, akin to the Green New Deal and Medicare-for-all.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the District’s nonvoting delegate and one of the biggest cheerleaders for statehood, declined through a spokesman to comment. A spokeswoman for D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), another top statehood advocate, said the mayor is as committed as ever to the cause.
“D.C. statehood is the civil rights issue of our time and embodies our nation’s founding democratic principle: the right to vote,” spokeswoman LaToya Foster said. “Our 700,000 residents, who pay taxes, fight in war, and have all the other obligations of citizenship, deserve and have earned representation in the House and Senate.”
Congress will hold a hearing on D.C. statehood July 24 — the first in a quarter-century.