OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
A number of Democrats are venting at President Joe Biden after he indicated last week he would sign a bipartisan bill overturning a District of Columbia measure that dramatically reduces penalties for many crimes even as the nation’s capital suffers a spike in violence and criminal activity.
Democratic senators have committed to providing enough votes to Senate Republicans to pass a resolution that would overturn a law in D.C. that is perceived as being soft on crime, Breitbart News reported on Friday.
The resolution, which is expected to be signed by Biden, has the support of at least five Democratic senators, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Patty Murray of Washington, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Mark Kelly of Arizona.
With the backing of Democrats, the resolution could pass with a simple majority, allowing it to be sent to Biden for his consideration within weeks of the vote on the Senate floor, which Republicans are expected to force.
“I’ll be voting the same way the president is,” Murray responded when CNN asked if she would support the measure. “I absolutely respect that decision.”
Democrats have been portrayed accurately as the party advocating to defund the police, so the backing of the Republican resolution by at least some of them is noteworthy. Many political analysts believe that the Democrats’ soft-on-crime stance during the 2020 and 2022 elections was detrimental to their success at the polls, Breitbart noted further.
Following a meeting with Democrats on Capitol Hill, Biden’s Twitter account indicated that he would support the resolution to overturn a D.C. law that decreases penalties for offenders. However, the president retains the power to veto the resolution, which would result in the law remaining in effect.
“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’s Twitter account said. “If the Senate votes to overturn what D.C. Council did – I’ll sign it.”
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.
If the Senate votes to overturn what D.C. Council did – I’ll sign it.
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 2, 2023
The outlet added:
The district’s criminal law, which reduces punishments for a variety of serious criminal offenses, was enacted by D.C.’s city council, which overrode the mayor’s veto — all while crime increased at the beginning of 2023.
According to the Metropolitan Police Department, 94 carjackings have occurred in the District so far in 2023. Homicides have dramatically increased (25 percent), along with theft from auto (21 percent), theft (16 percent), and arson (300 percent).
Not all Democrats support Biden’s decision. Some Democrats are outraged that Biden would block the politically controversial soft-on-crime law.
“So a lot of us who are allies voted no in order to support what the White House wanted. And now we are being hung out to dry,” one Democrat lawmaker told the Hill Thursday. “F****** AMATEUR HOUR. HEADS SHOULD ROLL OVER AT THE WHITE HOUSE OVER THIS.”
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) expressed her displeasure with the president for implying that he may be considering vetoing the bill due to the rising crime rate.
“Today has been a sad day for D.C. home rule and D.C. residents’ right to self-governance,” she said. “[B]ut with the nationwide increase in crime, most senators do not want to be seen as supporting criminal justice reform.”
It should be noted that while Congress had ceded some powers to the District over the years, the Constitution makes it clear that the House and Senate have the final say over what happens there in terms of governance.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also expressed frustration with Biden.
“If [Biden] was going to do it, I wish he would’ve told us first, because this was a hard vote for the House members,” she said during a speech at the University of Chicago, according to the Washington Examiner. “It’s a hard vote for the Senate members. The mayor of the District of Columbia even differed from the legislators who passed it, so it wasn’t that clear.”
“I’m a big supporter of statehood for the District of Columbia. I voted with the District of Columbia,” she said. “I understand why some people voted against it. But if the president’s going to do it, hey, could you give us a heads up too in the House?”