Arizona Sen. Martha McSally (R) said Tuesday that if Democrats managed to gain control of the White House, the Senate and the House in November, the party would legislate statehood to both Puerto Rico and D.C. — a move that she said would be disastrous for Republicans.
“They’re going to make D.C. and Puerto Rico a state and get four new Democrat Senators,” McSally told NBC News in an interview Tuesday. “We’d never get the Senate back again.”
Some have criticized McSally’s remarks as an implicit suggestion that voters in D.C. and Puerto Rico did not deserve the congressional representation of the 50 states.
The Republican senator’s comments come after the House voted in June, for the first time, to declare the city to be the nation’s 51st state, a milestone that backers say begins to challenge a long history of legislative injustice in the nation’s capital city. However, the effort faces impossible odds in the Senate.
McSally’s comments appear to mirror those of President Donald Trump, who suggested in May that maintaining a Republic majority was reason to continue to suppress representation for voters in Washington, D.C.
“D.C. will never be a state,” Trump told the New York Post during an interview in May. “You mean District of Columbia, a state? Why? So we can have two more Democratic — Democrat senators and five more congressmen? No, thank you. That’ll never happen.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) dismissed the proposal last year, saying that D.C.-statehood advocates are pushing an agenda of “full-bore socialism” to expand the Democratic caucus.
Ironically, the current Puerto Rican delegate to Congress — resident commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez — is a member of the Republic party.
McSally is considered among the most vulnerable GOP Senate incumbents facing re-election this year. Last week, she told local radio station KTAR News that the Arizona race “will decide the Senate majority,” adding with regards to her opponent former astronaut Mark Kelly that “Arizona voters deserve to know where he stands.”
She expanded on that point on Tuesday, telling NBC News that this year’s election was a “tipping point” and that if Democrats win the White House, the Senate and the House “they’re already saying they are going to ram through the most radical agenda we’ve seen in American history. That is out of step with Arizonans,” she said.