(CNSNews.com) – President Biden’s decision not to veto a Republican measure that would undo parts of the D.C. crime bill is an attempt to protect D.C. residents, but at the same time, he believes in the city’s autonomy, the White House said on Thursday.
The D.C. crime bill would eliminate mandatory sentencing for most crimes and lower penalties for violent offenses like carjacking and robbery. It would also expand the requirement for jury trials in most misdemeanor cases. The bill was approved unanimously by the D.C. Council.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser opposed the crime bill, but the city council overrode the mayor’s veto in a vote of 12-1. Despite her opposition to the crime bill, Bowser supported a Biden veto of the GOP measure, because not doing so would mean allowing Congress to nullify D.C. law for the first time in three decades.
Biden told Senate Democrats on Thursday about his intention not to veto the GOP measure during a visit to the U.S. Capitol.
This president tweeted, “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.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that for decades Biden has long believed that “every city should have the right to self-government.”
“That is the same case. It hasn’t changed anything. He has long believed that D.C. statehood should be something that the residents of D.C. should be allowed,” Jean-Pierre said. However, “this is different.”
“The D.C. Council put changes forward over the mayor’s objections, and the president doesn’t support changes like lowering penalties for carjacking. So this piece is different, but again, it doesn’t change the administration strongly supporting HR 51, which would have made D.C. the 51st state,” she said.
“That is something that he still very much supports, and we’re going to continue to call on Congress to provide a swift and orderly transition to statehood for the people who live here in D.C.,” the press secretary said.
“One thing that the president believes in is making sure that the streets in America, in communities across the country, are safe. That includes D.C. That does not change. That’s why he put forward a historic piece of– a historic plan that he hopes Republicans in Congress would support, which is a safer America plan,” Jean-Pierre said.
“That is something that the president has led when you think about keeping communities safe, when you think about making sure that we’re also protecting our law enforcement, and making sure that we have law enforcement in communities that continue to keep communities safe,” she said.
“That’s something that he has led on so when it comes to what this proposal brings forth, which is really lowering penalties for carjacking, that’s not going to — he doesn’t believe that’s going to keep communities safe, so he’s going to take action as he said,” the press secretary added.
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