Biden sides with GOP on DC crime bill

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News

President Joe Biden might not have shocked the world, but he seems to have stunned some Democrats by promising to sign a Republican-backed law aimed at keeping the Washington, D.C. city council from severely reducing the penalty for crime in the district. 

Republicans and centrist Democrats have pushed a federal bill that would override a Washington, D.C., city law that would reduce sentences and eliminate most mandatory sentences for numerous crimes, including violent offenses like carjackings and robberies.

The bill isn’t even popular with all progressives, as D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser attempted to veto it only to have the city council override her. 

For Biden, the idea of crime going unpunished, or at least crime seeming to go under-punished while he seeks reelection, seems to have struck a chord. 

“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,” the president tweeted last week. “If the Senate votes to overturn what D.C. Council did – I’ll sign it.”

According to an article by The Hill, Biden had previously revealed his intention to support this bill to Senate Democrats prior to the above tweet and managed to anger House Democrats in the process. 

“It’s disappointing for me and anybody who believes in home rule, honestly,” the Hill quoted Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) as saying. “I’m a former mayor of a city of 70,000, and I wouldn’t want the federal government coming in and telling me what city ordinances to pass. … So I think it’s disappointing in that context.”

For many more House Democrats, the frustration seems to have been rooted in the fact that Biden allowed them to rally against the D.C. crime bill, which makes them look like Democrats who failed to back a sitting Democratic president. 

At present, there are a pair of bills before the Senate that would strike down the D.C. crime bill, and the numbers are beginning to look like more than enough Democrats might emerge to ensure passage. 

Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) have already signaled their support for the bill, and several others – among them Jon Tester of Montana and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut – say they are undecided.