Senate overwhelmingly approves reprimand of DC crime bill that slashed sentences for violent crimes after sparking fury from Democrats when White House sided with Republicans
- The Senate overwhelmingly passed a GOP-led resolution Wednesday night to repeal a crime bill in Washington, D.C.
- Critics of the bill called it soft on crime amid rising crime rates in the nation’s capital
- Most members of the Senate Democratic caucus joined the Republicans, with the final vote being 81 to 14
The Senate overwhelmingly passed a GOP-led resolution Wednesday night to repeal a crime bill in Washington, D.C. that critics have called soft on crime amid rising crime rates in the national capital.
Most members of the Senate Democratic caucus joined the Republicans, with the final tally standing at 81 to 14.
The vote came after the DC City Council president tried to withdraw the legislation on Monday so it wouldn’t be reprimanded in the US Senate.
A number of Senate Democrats pointed this out to excuse their votes.
‘The City Council Speaker – who withdrew the legislation – and the Mayor have suggested that these changes to DC’s Penal Code are not ready for prime time,’ a timely statement from Democratic Sens said. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner from Virginia.
“We will vote for the resolution of disapproval and urge the mayor and council to work together to create a safer city for everyone, including the many Virginians who commute to DC every day for work,” they added.
DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson announced on Monday that he had withdrawn a controversial criminal code bill, in an effort to prevent a Senate vote on it.
Democrats who voted in the affirmative were following the lead of President Joe Biden.
Biden had signaled he would support the Republican bill to block the measure — even as his administration blamed itself for breaking its own warnings about protecting autonomy in the city.
The process had already begun by the time Council Chairman Phil Mendelson wrote to Vice President Kamala Harris to try to withdraw the bill.
“Not only does the law not allow for the removal of a transmission, but at this point, the Senate Republicans’ preferred motion will act on the House disapproval resolution, rather than the transmission from the DC Council to the Senate.” said an aide to the Senate leadership, who told DailyMail.com: ‘We still expect the vote to take place.’
Voting ended around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, wrapping up an episode that exposed a rift within the Democratic Party over autonomy in Washington, DC.
Without statehood, DC’s Home Rule Act allows Congress to review city laws.
Mendelson said the Council, which backed the combined penal code changes over Mayor Muriel Bowser’s objections, would amend the law and bring it to Congress later.
Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that “if the bill arrives on the president’s desk, he will sign it”.
She also reaffirmed her support for statehood, while denigrating the city’s stance on penalties for violent crimes and being willing to overrule local government.
“He believes and he has believed for some time that DC should be a fifty-one state,” she said. The decision “does not change the fact that he is encouraging Congress to pass a bill making DC a state, and he will sign it into law.”
On Friday, Jean-Pierre was put on the defensive amid House Democrats, furious over why the administration said it was against the measure on self-government grounds for the city, only for Biden to say he would sign it if it got to his office.
“It’s about next year’s campaign,” Mendelson said. “That’s what it’s about, it’s about making videos that this or that senator voted to be lenient on crime in the District of Columbia.”
“One thing the president believes in is making sure the streets in America and communities across the country are safe,” Jean-Pierre said. “This includes DC”
His comment came after some House Democrats were furious after Biden announced he would sign the resolution after many of them voted against it.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries told CNN on Sunday that he plans to speak about it privately with Biden.