“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,” Cotton said. “In other words, Wyoming is a well-rounded working-class state.”
Bo Shuff, executive director of DC Vote, balked at Cotton’s definition of what constitutes a state.
“Forty-nine out of the 50 states were smaller than the District of Columbia when they were admitted to the union,” he said. “As a country we are a variety of all kinds of things, but the one thing we are all is represented in our democracy and participants — except D.C.,” he said.
Democratic senators chastised Cotton, who mockingly asked what “vital industry” the new D.C. state would provide the nation. “Lobbying? Bureaucracy? Give me a break,” Cotton said.
“Job shaming! Awesome! I’m in. Great idea. This CANNOT go wrong. 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??” tweeted Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).
“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,” wrote Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).
Cotton began his remarks by railing against Democrats for prioritizing the D.C. statehood vote while there is “mob violence” in the streets and claiming the recent protests near the White House required “force by federal law enforcement officers under federal control.”
“Would you trust Mayor Bowser to keep Washington safe if she were given the powers of a governor? Would you trust Marion Barry?” Cotton said, referring to D.C.’s current and former mayors, both black.
Cotton recently created an uproar through a New York Times op-ed he wrote, calling for the military to intervene in cities where protests had erupted against police brutality. Critics decried the senator’s suggestion that U.S. troops should be used against American citizens, many of them black.
The vote on D.C. statehood on Friday is the first House floor vote on the issue since 1993. It is expected to pass the Democratic-majority chamber for the first time in history, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has already vowed not to bring it to a vote.
“Continuing to deny Washington, D.C. a vote in Congress means denying full representation to the Black and Brown voters who are a majority in our nation’s capital,” tweeted Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). “To end this disenfranchisement, we need #DCStatehood now.”