Biden Declining To Veto DC Crime Bill Surprises Democrats

President Biden’s decision not to veto a resolution opposing recent changes by the District of Columbia’s City Council is not sitting well with Democrats, especially Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).The Biden decision follows a new series of crime laws passed by the City Council of Washington, D.C. The federal district has increased autonomy, but as a part of the federal government, Congress can overturn the local authorities’ decisions.

The City Council overrode the veto of Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and reduced penalties on a number of violent crimes.

The Revised Criminal Code Act was originally adopted unanimously in November 2022 by the council, composed of 11 Democrats and two independents. 

The act reduced maximum sentences and removed almost all mandatory minimum sentences. The revision of the original 1901 law will allow convicted criminals in D.C. to ask for early release after 20 years, even if they were convicted of murder.

A mostly-Republican coalition passed legislation in Congress to overturn the city council’s decision.

The resolution was introduced by Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) and soon picked up the majority of the House’s support, including many Democrats. 

The Senate is expected to pass their version of the resolution, introduced by Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and supported by at least two Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). President Biden indicated that he would not veto the Republican-led resolution.

The former House Speaker spoke about President Biden’s decision to effectively allow Republican opposition to the City Council decision to stand. The decision surprised her, she said, especially since the White House did not announce the decision to the Democratic leadership prior. was joined by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other Democrats in their criticism of the president, representing a rare public break within the party.

Cortez wrote, “D.C. has a right to govern itself like any other state or municipality. If the President supports D.C. statehood, he should govern like it. Plenty of places pass laws the President may disagree with.”

Pelosi was concerned about the president’s lack of a warning to the Democratic leadership.

She said, “I understand why some people voted against. But if the president’s going to do it, hey, could you give us a heads up, too, in the House?”

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