(CNSNews.com) – President Joe Biden has angered some of his fellow Democrats by announcing that he will sign a Republican resolution blocking a soft-on-crime law passed by the D.C. Council, if it reaches his desk.
Biden’s willingness to block the law is at odds with his support for D.C. Statehood and home rule.
“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,” said a tweet issued in Biden’s name on Thursday. “If the Senate votes to overturn what D.C. Council did – I’ll sign it.”
“This ain’t it,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted in response: “DC has a right to govern itself, like any other state or municipality. If the President supports DC statehood, he should govern like it. Plenty of places pass laws the President may disagree with. He should respect the people’s gov of DC just as he does elsewhere.”
The D.C. Council passed its revised its criminal code last month over the veto of Democrat Mayor Muriel Bowser. The revisions would end mandatory minimum sentences, lower the maximum sentences for robbery and carjacking, among other crimes; and allow jury trials in misdemeanor cases. The easing of criminal penalties comes at a time of rising crime in the city.
According to a Metropolitan Police Department year-to-date crime comparison, total crime in the nation’s capital as of March 2, 2023 is running 25 percent of the same time period last year; and property crime (which includes carjacking) is up 32 percent.
“This can be fixed,” Biden ally Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) told CNN Friday morning.
“What needs to happen here is the Washington, D.C., Council and the mayor need to work together. Their criminal code hasn’t been updated for something like a hundred years. They didn’t get it entirely right…they need to fix it,” he said.
“They can do that. And once they do that, the new criminal code will be in place. It needs to be put in place.”
Carper noted that carjacking wasn’t a consideration a hundred years ago. He called carjacking “a serious matter that should be punished.”
Carper also expressed his support for D.C. Statehood — giving District of Columbia residents voting representation in the House and the Senate. “That needs to be fixed as well,” he said.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also tried to explain Biden’s willingness to sign a Republican bill (a resolution of disapproval) that 173 House Democrats refused to support last month.
“Look, the President does not support the D.C. Council — the changes that they — that they put forward over the mayor’s objections,” Jean-Pierre said.
“And those changes, like lowering penalties for carjackings, he thought was — was unacceptable. And so, he wanted to make sure that, again, we’re keeping communities safe. And this is — he believes, you know, the D.C. community deserves that; they deserve to feel like — as if they are going to be safe.”
Jean-Pierre also said that President Biden “believes that every city has the right to self-government. That never changes. He’s been saying that for some time.
“And if the Senate sends the bill — this particular bill to his desk — he will sign it. And he said that today…And he believes, you know, this is a way for him to keep the community safe in D.C. and the people of D.C. safe — the residents of D.C. safe and protected. So that is why he’s moving forward in this way.”
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