Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) criticized President Joe Biden for signing legislation overturning D.C.’s revised criminal code, saying he should have given Democrats “a heads up.”
“If he was going to do it, I wish he would’ve told us first because this was a hard vote for the House members,” Pelosi said at a University of Chicago event. “And it’s a hard vote for the Senate members. And the mayor of the District of Columbia even differed from the legislators who passed it, so it wasn’t that clear.”
“I’m a big supporter of statehood for the District of Columbia. I voted with the District of Columbia. I understand why some people voted against. But if the president’s going to do it, hey, could you give us a heads up too in the House?” she added.
In November 2022, the D.C. council unanimously voted to pass the Revised Criminal Code Act, which includes reduced maximum prison sentences, the expansion of jury trials, and the reduction of maximum criminal penalties for crimes like carjacking and robberies.
In January 2023, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser vetoed the legislation, but the council overruled her veto, prompting a response from GOP lawmakers.
House Republicans introduced a resolution, led by Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA), to repeal D.C.’s crime bill. 173 House Democrats voted against it, and 31 voted for it. Biden announced his intention to sign the legislation.
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
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) said she was “deeply disappointed” with the overturning of the law.
“I’m deeply disappointed to see the president announce he will allow Congress to overturn a D.C. law for the first time in decades,” Jayapal said in a statement. “This is simple: the District of Columbia must be allowed to govern itself. Democrats’ commitment to Home Rule should apply regardless of the substance of the local legislation.”
The Home Rule Act allows D.C. to act as its government despite not being a state. All legislative decisions must go through Congress before being enacted.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was also upset with Biden’s decision, saying D.C. has a right to make its own decisions.
“This ain’t it. D.C. has a right to govern itself like any other state or municipality. If the president supports D.C. statehood, he should govern like it,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
The bill now heads to the Senate. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Mark Kelly (D-AZ) will likely side with the president. If passed, it will go to the president’s desk for signature.