(JTNews) – Democrats, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are tearing in to President Joe Biden for the way he handled a piece of Washington DC crime legislation.
The former House speaker said that the president should have given House Democrats a warning about his intentions after he said he would not veto the legislation if it passed the Senate, The Washington Examiner reported.
“If [Biden] was going to do it, I wish he would’ve told us first, because this was a hard vote for the House members,” she said during a speech at the University of Chicago. “It’s a hard vote for the Senate members. 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,” she said. “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?”
Washington DC is more than 90 percent Democrat voters so it is no wonder Pelosi and other Democrats want to see it as a state, which would all but assure Democrats of another House seat and two Senate seats for the foreseeable future.
The Washington Examiner reported.
The bill has been met with backlash by Democrats in Congress, because it overturns parts of a crime bill that was passed by the city’s council in January. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) attempted to veto the crime bill, but it was overruled by the city council in a 12-1 vote.
Washington’s new crime laws eliminated a large portion of mandatory minimum sentences for violent crimes, and reinstated the use of jury trials for misdemeanors.
The decision to sign the bill, championed by Republicans, comes as the president is said to be preparing for the 2024 presidential campaign and signing it and supporting it is a way for some moderate Democrats to be seen as tough on crime, CNN reported.
The head of the Progressive Caucus in the house, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, said that she is “deeply disappointed” in the president’s decision.
“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,” she said to CNN. “This is why the Congressional Progressive Caucus and its members have endorsed D.C. statehood, with every CPC member cosponsoring D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton’s bill in the 117th Congress. Statehood is the only way to protect the 700,000 residents of the District from this kind of interference, we will continue to champion this cause.”
But the president cited the rise in crime in Washington DC as a reason he will sign the legislation if it is passed by the Senate.
“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.”
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
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also attempted to explain away the president’s decision.
“The president and the administration has a very close relationship with House Democrats and Senate Democrats as well,” the press secretary said to CNN. “We have worked together, the president has worked very well with the members when delivering bold, historic pieces of legislation in his first two years of an administration and is very proud of the relationship that he has with them, and our teams are constantly in communication with them.”
“We never laid out where the president was going to go,” she said. “We always let the process Congress will go through, whatever mechanism they take.”
“If Congress sends him a bill making a DC state, he’ll always be sure to sign it,” the press secretary said. “He’s been talking about that for the last two decades.”
But that did not prevent more progressive Democrats from being furious.
“This ain’t it. DC has a right to govern itself, like any other state or municipality. If the President supports DC statehood, he should govern like it,” New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter. “Plenty of places pass laws the President may disagree with. He should respect the people’s gov of DC just as he does elsewhere.”
This ain’t it. DC has a right to govern itself, like any other state or municipality. If the President supports DC statehood, he should govern like it.
Plenty of places pass laws the President may disagree with. He should respect the people’s gov of DC just as he does elsewhere. https://t.co/VXczSp8YPc
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 3, 2023
“The people of the district should have the right to have their Council accountable to them and should not have to worry about what Congress is going to do in regards to local decisions,” Democrat Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin said.