Twitter Reep. Mondaire Jones
Republican lawmakers grew angry on the House floor Thursday, after Rep. Mondaire Jones said their arguments against Washington, D.C.'s bid to become the 51st state were "racist trash."
"I have had enough of my colleagues' racist insinuations that somehow the people of Washington, D.C., are incapable or even unworthy of our democracy," Jones, 33, said.
"One of my House Republican colleagues said that D.C. couldn't be a state because the district doesn't have a landfill," Jones continued. "My goodness, with all the racist trash my colleagues have brought to the debate, I can see why they're worried about having a place to put it."
The remarks sparked immediate yells from across the aisle, where Republican lawmakers demanded Jones' words be stricken from the congressional record. Jones ultimately agreed to officially take back the remark, although he the sentiment on social media afterward.
Rep. Andy Harris, the Republican who asked for Jones' words to be removed from the record, told Forbes afterward that Jones' comment was "unbecoming of a Representative and violates the rules of the House."
Harris, 64, said Jones' accusation comes at a "time of growing discord" in the country.
There have been heated debates between Democrats and Republicans over whether to make Washington, D.C. the country's 51st state. Without any Republican support, the House passed a bill this week that would make D.C. the next U.S. state.
Democrats have raised growing concerns that D.C. voters don't have a vote in Congress. The district, which has a population of roughly 712,000 residents, is represented in Congress by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.
Norton, however, cannot vote on legislation.
Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images Rep. Mondaire Jones
GOP lawmakers have said the statehood effort is a Democratic power grab to add two additional Senate seats by making the predominantly liberal district a state.
Jones says his Republican colleagues' opposition comes down to race, pointing to D.C.'s population being roughly 50 percent Black.
Forbes reports that House Minority Whip Steve Scalise pointed to D.C.'s crime rate, while Rep. Jody Hice griped the district doesn't have landfills.
Sen. Tom Cotton said D.C. is not a "well-rounded working-class state" like Wyoming (which has a smaller population than D.C., Democrats have pointed out.)
The Senate will now vote on the new House bill, but filibuster rules make it so that 60 total votes are required to pass the D.C. bill.
With a 50-50 split Senate, that means 10 Republicans will need to join Democrats in the vote — an unlikely scenario given the lack of Republican support for the initiative dating back to 1993, when the idea was first introduced in Congress.
But the push for D.C. statehood has never had the level of support it has now, with nearly every Democrat behind the effort — including President Joe Biden.
The Biden administration said in a statement Tuesday that it "strongly supports" the D.C. statehood bill.
"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," the statement said. "This taxation without representation and denial of self-governance is an affront to the democratic values on which our Nation was founded."
Last year, after the House passed a similar effort with slightly less support, Norton told PEOPLE she was "amazed and full of joy."
"The United States is the only country — the only democratic country and I think perhaps the only country in the world — where the residents of their capital don't have the same rights as other citizens in the country," Norton said then. "The notion that our country could have gone on this long, after considering itself the leader of the free world for generations, should be amazing and I think it is amazing."