President Biden on Monday signed a Republican-sponsored bill to block a controversial update to Washington, DC’s criminal code that would have lowered maximum penalties for certain violent crimes, including carjackings.
The White House released a brief note on Monday announcing the 80-year-old president’s signing of “H.J.Res. 26, which nullifies the Revised Criminal Code Act of 2022 enacted by the Council of the District of Columbia.”
Biden revealed earlier this month that he would not stand in the way of Congress if it voted to nix DC’s crime bill, a move which enraged many Democrats and supporters of DC home rule.
Republicans in Congress slammed the DC Council’s changes to the district’s criminal code as “soft-on-crime” and used the chamber’s rarely used oversight responsibilities over DC to nix the legislation – making it only the fourth District law since the early 1970s to be revoked by Congress, according to CNN.
“President Biden officially signed my bipartisan resolution to block the D.C. Council’s dangerous overhaul of Washington’s criminal code into law,” Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.), who sponsored the resolution, said in a tweet Monday.
“This is a major first step to restoring law and order in our nation’s capital city,” he added.
The district’s bill would have lowered the max sentence for carjacking from 21 years — 40 if armed with a gun — to 18 years, or 24 if armed. The max penalty for armed robbery would have been reduced from 45 years to 20 years.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Monday said the GOP “will continue to lead the fight for safe communities.”
“Had Republicans not won the House majority … Had we not made the Commitment to America … Had we not taken action to nullify DC’s soft-on-crime law … This victory would not be possible,” McCarthy said in reaction to Biden signing the Republican-sponsored measure.
“House Republicans will continue to lead the fight for safe communities across the country,” the House speaker added.
The DC Council attempted to withdraw the crime bill from congressional consideration earlier this month amid signs that it would be overturned, but the Home Rule Act, which governs the district, does not allow for the withdrawal of legislation.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, initially opposed the DC Council’s changes, but her veto of the crime bill was overturned by the council.
Bowser expressed concern that “the council substantially reduced penalties for robberies, carjackings and home invasion burglaries,” however, the mayor opposed congressional intervention into DC’s governance.
“I don’t think the Congress should ever interfere in our local governance. They can because we live under the indignity of limited home rule,” Bowser said in a tweet earlier this month.
Back on March 3, Biden explained his decision not to veto the nixing of the DC crime bill by citing the issue of carjacking in the district and Bowser’s initial disapproval of the lowering of certain criminal penalties.
“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 wrote in a tweet.