Biden Backs Overriding D.C. Sentencing Rule


President Joe Biden | Image by lev radin

On Thursday, President Joe Biden said he is prepared to sign a resolution overriding the District of Columbia’s controversial revised criminal sentencing laws. News of the president’s decision comes after his administration initially opposed congressional interference.

The bill seeks to prevent the district government from applying new reduced sentences, reported USA Today. Should Biden sign the resolution, Congress will have the authority to overturn a D.C. bill for the first time in three decades.

“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,” Biden declared in a statement.

Last year, the D.C. City Council moved to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for numerous crimes and reduce maximum penalties for crimes like robbery.

The move came amid a surge in violence in the city, with 2022 experiencing the highest recorded number of murders in nearly two decades. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser attempted to veto the change but was ultimately unsuccessful.

A total of 31 Democrats supported the Republican-backed motion to reverse D.C.’s criminal law.

The White House attempted to address the president’s stance delicately. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that, although American cities have the “right to self-government,” the situation in D.C. is “different,” according to USA Today.

“The D.C. Council put changes forward over the mayor’s objections, and the president doesn’t support changes like lowering penalties for carjacking,” said Jean-Pierre, per USA Today.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) took to Twitter to criticize the president’s decision.

“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,” she tweeted.

Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a sponsor of the resolution, said efforts to lower crime should enjoy broad support.

“I hope these reports are true and that President Biden is no longer threatening to veto my commonsense resolution to block the soft-on-crime DC Crime Bill. Reducing violent crime should not be controversial,” said Hagerty, reported USA Today.

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