(UnitedVoice.com) – The District of Columbia is a unique city. Not only is it the capital of the US, but it also operates like a state without actually being one. Its city council passes legislation like a statehouse would, and the mayor either signs it or vetoes it. Unlike a state, the federal government directly oversees the city.
That means if DC passes legislation that Congress does not agree with, lawmakers have the power to pass a resolution to repeal that law. That has only happened a handful of times and not since 1991 — until now.
DC Crime Bill
The DC City Council passed Bill 24-416, a controversial measure that sought to allegedly modernize the criminal code in the capital. It was the first major overhaul of the system since 1901. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) vetoed the Revised Criminal Code Act earlier this year, but the council had enough votes to overcome the veto.
The overhaul of the criminal code included criminal justice reforms, including eliminating nearly all mandatory minimum sentences. It also reduced the sentences for carjackings and robberies. Additionally, the law gave suspects the right to a jury trial for most misdemeanors.
Republicans and other critics slammed the bill as being soft on crime at a time when the country is seeing criminal activity increase.
Biden Signs Repeal
Congress decided to take action and officially object to the DC bill this year. On the same day the House of Representatives voted to repeal the bill, Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN) was attacked in her DC apartment building. The congresswoman was in the elevator when 26-year-old Kendrick Hamlin allegedly punched her in the face and grabbed her neck. She threw hot coffee on him, and he fled. Police later apprehended the suspect and charged him with simple assault
A month later, the Senate voted to overturn the bill as well. Originally, President Joe Biden said that he was not going sign the Republican-led legislation, but then had a change of heart. On March 2, he tweeted that he supports DC becoming a state but not some of the changes made with the crime bill, “such as lowering penalties for carjackings.”
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.
If the Senate votes to overturn what D.C. Council did – I’ll sign it.
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 2, 2023
On Monday, March 20, Biden made good on his promise and signed the repeal of the bill. It marked the first time in more than 30 years that the federal government took action against the capital city’s government. Some Democrats criticized the decision to repeal the law. The president did not issue a statement after signing the repeal.
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