President Joe Biden’s opposition to a bipartisan proposal that overturned a resolution by the D.C. City Council that would reduce penalties for violent crimes, including carjackings, has been met with criticism by some Democrats.
In a tweet, Biden expressed his support for D.C. statehood and home-rule, but his disagreement with some of the revisions introduced by the council, which Mayor Muriel Bowser vetoed, triggered Congress to intervene.
While the proposal was backed by bipartisan support in the House, Democrats accused Biden of undermining the state law that sought to reduce penalties for offenses such as sexual assault and carjacking.
Republican voters, on the other hand, hailed Biden’s move, claiming it was a victory for law and order, while Democrats who supported the resolution were accused of being soft on crime.
The decision not to veto the bill was described as a sad day for D.C. home rule and D.C. residents’ right to self-governance, by Democratic D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., also spoke against Biden’s decision, insisting that D.C. had the right to govern itself, like any other state or municipality.
However, Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., and other Democrats supporting the resolution, were left disappointed by the president’s decision, seeing it as empowering the paternalistic and anti-democratic Republican opposition to local control over local affairs.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and several other Democrats backed the GOP-introduced disapproval resolution to overturn the D.C. criminal code revision, which Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution permits Congress to exercise exclusive legislation over the District of Columbia.
Although some Democrats still believe in home rule and support DC statehood, others like Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, who described it as a serious crime issue, believe it is about getting it right. Biden’s decision has brought to the fore the debate between the rights of states and the need for central control in the administration of justice.