The Senate is preparing to override the Washington, D.C., crime bill which would have overhauled the district’s criminal justice system. The bill has been heavily criticized on a bipartisan basis for lowering maximum penalties for murders, armed home invasion burglaries, and some sexual assault offenses.
The vote is expected later this week.
“They’re sending a message that historically has proven to be down to the marrow bone deep stupid. And we have no choice but to overrule,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La, said.
D.C. City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson tried rescinding the crime bill because it was clear a resolution overturning it would pass on a bipartisan basis. But the Senate is moving forward with the vote to override it anyway.
“That’s great that they’ve acknowledged they made a mistake but you cannot be light on crime, especially serious crimes. So it’s very clear for me to go back home and explain that’s who we are in West Virginia. We’re not going to tolerate people committing these horrendous crimes and basically walking free,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said.
Because the District of Columbia is not a state, Congress and the president have the power to review and override actions by the City Council. The House of Representatives voted on a bipartisan basis to override the crime bill. The rest came undone after President Biden announced he too opposes the law and would sign legislation to override it.
“Joe Biden has figured out he’s running for reelection. And if you’re running for reelection, you can’t be soft on crime. D.C. has been soft on crime. Joe Biden drives around this town, he sees the crime, he sees the homelessness, they’ve got to start cracking down on the crime here. And so this bill needs to pass. I’m gonna, I’m very supportive of it and I’m glad that Joe Biden’s going to sign it,” Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also said he would vote yes. He said it was a close question, but on balance, he decided to vote yes.