Biden will NOT veto Republican bid to block D.C. crime bill


President Biden told Senate Democrats in a meeting on Capitol  Hill Thursday that he would not veto a bill that would block new changes to D.C.’s criminal code, allowing the federal government to wade into a local matter. 

‘I support D.C. Statehood and home-rule – but I don’t support some of the changes D.C. Council put forward over the Mayor’s objections – such as lowering penalties for carjackings,’ Biden wrote in a tweet after Senate Democrats confirmed Biden told them he would sign it if the chamber passed it in a meeting Thursday.

‘If the Senate votes to overturn what D.C. Council did – I’ll sign it.’

Sen. Chuck Schumer confirmed Biden said he would sign the legislation. By not using vetoing the GOP-led legislation, Biden will allow Congress to override the city’s laws for the first time in more than three decades. 

The capital city council’s massive overhaul includes lowering maximum penalties for crimes such as carjackings and robberies. It also allows nearly all misdemeanor charges the right to a jury trial. 

The upper chamber is preparing to vote on the bill next week after the House passed it 250-173 earlier this month. Thirty-one Democrats joined all Republicans in voting for the resolution of disapproval. 

The bill must come to the Senate floor, despite Democratic control, under the Congressional Review Act. It only needs a simple majority to pass. 

Biden told Senate Democrats in a meeting on Capitol Hill Thursday that he would not veto a bill that would block new changes to D.C.'s criminal code, allowing the federal government to wade into a local matter

Biden told Senate Democrats in a meeting on Capitol Hill Thursday that he would not veto a bill that would block new changes to D.C.’s criminal code, allowing the federal government to wade into a local matter

With Sens. John Fetterman, D-Pa., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the measure is likely to pass even with only minimal Democratic support. 

Sen. Joe Manchin, who is a yes on the bill, also confirmed Biden said he wouldn’t veto it. ‘I guess he thinks it’s … a bridge too far.’ 

Biden’s decision not to veto the legislation took some in his party by surprise. Washington, D.C. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton told reporters of Biden’s plan not to use a veto: ‘This is news to me and I’m very disappointed in it.’

‘I hope he continues to say he will oppose it,’ she said. 

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser had objected to the criminal code overhaul, joining police groups in warning that it could send the wrong message about public safety.

‘It’s smart politics. He was running into a buzzsaw,’ Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters on Thursday. ‘You don’t want to get left of the DC mayor.’ 

It comes as property crimes pose a growing problem for DC officials and cops in cities across the country.

The new House Republican majority led by Speaker Kevin McCarthy passed a pair of resolutions on Thursday opposing new local DC laws

The new House Republican majority led by Speaker Kevin McCarthy passed a pair of resolutions on Thursday opposing new local DC laws

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser had even conceded that the city council's new overhaul of the crime code may go too far

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser had even conceded that the city council’s new overhaul of the crime code may go too far

But Bowser, the DC council and other local officials have historically been united in opposing Congress meddling in the city’s ability to self-govern – something House Republicans signaled today they are ready to take on.

Republicans would have undoubtedly used a Biden veto on the legislation to paint the president and his party as soft on crime. 

The crime overhaul was unanimously passed by the D.C. City Council, which overrode a Bowser veto 12-1.

In addition to the resolution condemning the city’s crime code overhaul, the Republican-led majority also passed a resolution attacking a DC bill aimed at allowing undocumented immigrants to vote in local elections. 

That measure got even more Democratic support, with 41 left-wing lawmakers voting with nearly every House Republican. 

It passed with 260 votes for and 162 against.

‘I can only conclude that the Republican leadership believes DC residents, the majority of whom are Black and Brown, are unworthy or incapable of governing themselves,’ DC’s non-voting Delegate Eleanor Holmes Watson said on the House floor Thursday.

Rep. Andrew Clyde, who introduced the resolution regarding DC’s crime code, wrote on Twitter: ‘We must ensure all Americans can safely enjoy our nation’s capital city.’

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, who also led GOP support for the pair of resolutions, accused the DC council of passing ‘radical bills that would embolden criminals to remain on the streets and allow non-citizens, including illegal immigrants, to vote in local elections.’

‘Today the House took the first step to prevent two of the D.C. Council’s irresponsible and dangerous laws from going into effect,’ Comer said.

Police gather at the scene of a shooting on a metro bus at the corner of 14th and Sheridan St NW in the Brightwood neighborhood in Washington, DC on January 11, 2023

Police gather at the scene of a shooting on a metro bus at the corner of 14th and Sheridan St NW in the Brightwood neighborhood in Washington, DC on January 11, 2023

‘These misguided efforts would allow crime to run rampant and disenfranchise American citizens in our nation’s capital.’

But local DC officials and advocates for DC statehood have long been against Congress exercising its authority over the national capital, given that federal lawmakers are not beholden to or held accountable by the city’s residents.

Progressive group DC Vote called the votes an ‘attempt to undermine our District’s will.’ 

Its spokesperson Patrice Snow also criticized Republicans who led the charge for doing so ‘without a single hearing where a DC resident or DC elected official were allowed to speak on the merits of revising the criminal code or allowing all residents, regardless of their immigrant status, participate in only local elections.’

‘It is clearer now than it ever was before that overturning the little democracy that the 700,000 tax paying residents currently have is the goal,’ the spokesperson said. 



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