(LibertySociety.com) – President Joe Biden ruffled feathers within his own party when the White House announced that he would not use his veto power to override legislation that would block a controversial new Washington D.C. law. Mayor Muriel Bowser vetoed the law, but was overridden by the Washington D.C. City Council, prompting Congress to step in and overturn it. Congress has authority under the Constitution to oversee the D.C. government, but it’s rare that they have to intervene. Despite rising crime in the D.C. area, the bill would do away with certain mandatory minimum sentences, and lower the penalties for crimes like burglary, carjacking, and robberies.
Despite the withdrawal of the new criminal code by the city council after learning of President Biden’s refusal to veto, along with many Democrats siding with the Republicans, the Senate still passed the bill to block the new law. Senator Joe Manchin announced on February 28th that he would oppose the bill. On the day of the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that he would also be voting with the Republicans on the bill, along with several other Democrat Senators.
Crime has been on the rise in Washington D.C. for the last four years, although homicides did decrease by 10% in 2022 compared to 2021. In January 2023, when Mayor Bowser vetoed the bill, she stated that “Anytime there’s a policy that reduces penalties, I think it sends the wrong message,” but added that Congressional intervention over D.C. is not preferable. In the statement released by the White House, Biden’s view of allowing Washington D.C. to become a state was emphasized, as well as his opposition to Congress blocking the new D.C. law, but in the same letter he made his own opposition to the law known.
The Chairman of the D.C. Council, Phil Mendelson, blames politicization of the bill by Republican members of Congress, accusing them of putting President Biden on the spot, forcing him to publicly go against his own party.
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