Criminal law

Senate votes to block a second DC crime law; Biden expected the veto


Washington (AP) – The Senate has voted to overturn a resolution District of Columbia The law was enacted last year to improve police accountability, marking the second time this year that Democrats have joined Republicans to try to block crime regulations in the district.

President Joe Biden is expected to veto the resolution, which was approved by the House of Representatives Passed Last month. The White House said in a policy statement that the president does not support every provision of the DC law, which was passed in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in 2020. But Biden does support the “common sense police reforms” that are a part of it, such as banning chokeholds and limiting From the use of deadly force, to improving access to body cameras and to demanding increased de-escalation training.

“Congress must respect the right of the District of Columbia to pass measures that improve public safety and public confidence,” the White House said.

However, eight Senate Democrats supported the GOP-led effort to repeal the law, with members of both parties expressing concern about rising rates of violent crime in cities across the country. In D.C., the city’s homicides rose for four consecutive years before dropping about 10% in 2022. The 2021 homicide count of 227 was the highest since 2003.

“Congress must exercise our constitutional authority to keep our nation’s capital safe,” said incoming Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, who sponsored the Senate effort.

In March, the Senate consent A separate bill in the House of Representatives led by the Republican Party reverses changes to criminal law in D.C. Biden Occurred This decision ultimately derailed a D.C. law that would have redefined some crimes, changed criminal justice policies and rewritten how sentences are handed down after conviction. The repealed criminal code would also have abolished mandatory minimum penalties for many crimes, and would have lowered maximum penalties for burglary, auto theft, and burglary.

Biden’s signature two months ago marked the first time in more than three decades that Congress has invalidated D.C.’s statutes through the denial process — and reflects a shift in the longstanding Democratic position that the federal government should allow D.C. to govern itself.

On Tuesday, six Democrats voted in favor of the Republicans’ decision to repeal police accountability laws: West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, Montana Sen. John Tester, New Hampshire Sen. Jane Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, and Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jackie Rosen. Independent Senators Kirsten Sinema of Arizona and Angus King of Maine also supported the resolution.

District lawmakers said that even if Biden signed the resolution — which he said he wouldn’t do — it wouldn’t be valid. D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb issued an opinion that the period of time available for Congress to act has expired, meaning that the law has been enacted and cannot be reversed. Vance disagreed, arguing that there is a precedent in the Senate for enacting the law after the deadline.

said the district of columbia del. Eleanor Holmes Norton after the vote She is disappointed but glad that D.C. Law will not be overturned in the end.

Washington’s criminal law has not been significantly modernized since it was first drafted in 1901, and criminal justice experts say blacks have been disproportionately affected by criminal laws, as have many other cities.

Before the House vote in April, Norton called the decision “deeply undemocratic” and “paternalistic”.

“I can only conclude that the Republican leadership believes that the people of D.C., who are predominantly black and brown, do not deserve to govern themselves,” Norton said.


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