On Wednesday, the Senate passed a measure backed by the GOP by a vote of 81 to 14. It nullifies the DC Revised Criminal Code Act of 2022, which reduces punishments for certain offenses and was approved by the city council while under Democratic control.
This is only the fourth time in our nation’s history that Congress has repealed a law passed by the nation’s capital. On Wednesday, 33 Democrats joined Republicans in voting yes on the Senate bill.
Even though Republicans rule the House, 31 Democrats voted for the bill last week. Joe Biden, Vice President, will soon be asked to sign the measure into law. To the astonishment of some Democrats in Congress, he has said he will not veto it.
According to the US Constitution, the District of Columbia does not have any voting representatives in Congress. President Biden and other Democrats want the heavily Democratic metropolis to stop being an unincorporated territory and become the 51st state in the United States.
The measure was the first significant change to the city’s criminal code in a century. In 2025, it was set to go into effect and lower maximum sentences for crimes like carjacking and robbery while also doing away with mandatory minimum sentencing.
D.C.’s council chairman said on Monday that they would attempt to amend the controversial legislation. This is the first time in thirty years that Congress has overturned a rule passed by the District of Columbia.
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Angie Craig, a Democrat from Minnesota who voted with Republicans to repeal the DC legislation, was attacked in the elevator of her DC apartment building last month. The legislation was signed by Vice President Biden, who was defended by the congresswoman who threw hot coffee at her attacker.
“Everyone deserves to feel safe in their own community, and I think the really interesting thing in the process that I’m taking away from my own assault here in DC is this intersection of mental illness, of addiction, of homelessness and public safety,” she said.
The city’s serious crime rate has decreased by 8 percent over the past year, according to police statistics. But there has been a 33% increase in murders, a 120% increase in sex abuse, and a 108% increase in auto robberies.
Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, who voted against the Republican motion, expressed frustration that the bill’s increase in maximum sentences for homicide and s*x assault had been overlooked during the discussion.
Mr. Biden, who is widely anticipated to launch a presidential campaign in 2024 in the coming days, has had to tread carefully as the bill has made its way through Congress. But he also didn’t want Republicans to use DC’s criminal reforms as a political weapon against urban Democrats by appearing to challenge the state’s right to establish its own laws.
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