DC AG rips Biden on crime bill decision

Washington, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb (D) slammed President Biden on Thursday over his decision not to block Republican-led legislation that would undo portions of the city’s recent crime reform bill.

“Any effort to overturn DC laws degrades the right of its nearly 700,000 residents and elected officials to self-govern — a right that almost every other American has,” Schwalb said in a tweet. “As the city’s chief legal officer, I will continue to advocate for DC’s full autonomy and #Statehood.”

Biden told Senate Democrats on Thursday that he did not plan to veto the legislation, which appears likely to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate despite the party’s traditional support for D.C. home-rule.

“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,” Biden tweeted. “If the Senate votes to overturn what D.C. Council did — I’ll sign it.”

The crime bill, which was unanimously approved by the D.C. City Council in November, sought to eliminate most mandatory sentences, expand requirements for jury trials in misdemeanor cases and lower penalties for several violent offenses, including carjackings.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) vetoed the bill in January but was overridden by the city council in a 12-1 vote.

House Republicans passed a resolution of disapproval to block the bill’s implementation last month, with the support of 31 House Democrats. 

In the upper chamber, Democrats are currently down one vote, with Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) away while receiving in-patient care. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has also indicated that he plans to support the resolution

Other Senate Democrats facing tough reelection races in 2024 may also join Manchin. Both Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) remained undecided on the resolution as of Thursday.

Biden’s decision to not veto the measure would appear to give political cover to Democrats in the Senate wobbling on the issue to vote with the GOP if they choose to do so.

Tags DC DC crime bill Joe Biden Joe Manchin Jon Tester Muriel Bowser Muriel Bowser President Joe Biden

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