D.C. Council president says he’ll withdraw crime bill before it goes to U.S. Senate


D.C. Council President Bill Mendelson (D) wrote to the U.S. Senate on Monday to withdraw the city’s criminal code amendment, saying a Republican-led veto in that chamber could defeat the bill. However, many lawmakers expressed doubt that the measure could block the Senate from a vote, with one Republican lawmaker calling it a “shameful, manufactured ploy.”

“The Home Rule Act requires that House Rules be sent to both houses of Congress before they can become law,” Mendelssohn wrote in a letter to Vice President Harris, who serves as Senate President. “Since the Senate has yet to act [the criminal code revisions]My withdrawal of this legislation is … not properly before Congress at this time.

Mendelson said he believes his move to withdraw the Revised Penal Code Act of 2022 is unprecedented in the city’s legislative history, but there is no provision in the Home Rule Act to prevent him from doing so.

“I don’t know if that will stop the Senate Republicans, but our position is that the bill is not before Congress,” Mendelson said at a news conference on Monday. He said the withdrawal would allow the House to rework the bill and improve lawmakers’ messages about the legislation, but he did not have an estimate of when a revised bill would be reintroduced and it could be some time before the House. New Edition for Congress.

“This bill doesn’t acknowledge the Republican rhetoric that it’s bad, it simply backs it off so that we have more options and turn down the heat and turn down the rhetoric,” Mendelson added.

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But a Senate chief aide, speaking on condition of anonymity to speak publicly about the legislative process, disagreed with the chairman’s position that the council could withdraw a bill that had already been sent to Congress. (Because D.C. is not a state, Congress reviews all laws enacted by the Council.) The Republican-controlled House last month voted down the criminal-code resolution in a bipartisan vote.

“Not only does the law not allow a transfer to be withdrawn, but at this point the Senate Republican privilege motion would act on the House denial resolution rather than the DC Council sending it to the Senate. We still expect a vote to happen,” the aide said.

Sen. who sponsored the resolution of disapproval aimed at the criminal law. Bill Haggerty (R-Tenn.) called Mendelson’s actions a “desperate, manufactured ploy” in a statement.

Not only did Mendelsohn’s actions have no basis in DC home rule legislation, Haggerty insisted, but it “underscores the completely inconsistent way the DC Council legislates. No matter how hard they try, the Council will avoid responsibility for passing this disastrous, dangerous DC soft-on-crime bill.” No, it would make residents and visitors less safe.

The office of Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s non-voting representative to Congress, said Monday that withdrawing the bill is unlikely to affect Senate proceedings and that there is no precedent for withdrawing a bill that has already been sent to Congress.

The Criminal Code Act is a comprehensive bill that changes how many crimes are defined and punished in the city’s outdated code. Some congressional lawmakers have seized on provisions of the code amendment that lower the legal maximum penalty for crimes such as car thefts and robberies, branding proponents of the changes as soft on crime amid a national conversation about public safety and policing.

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Supporters of the amendments say the debate on the bill lacks nuance, as the changes create new sentencing enhancements that could increase penalties, for example. DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) opposed various changes to the code and defeated the bill, which was cited by congressional opponents of the bill. Ahead of the House vote, Bowser A duly proposed assembly Changes to the bill to address her concerns.

Last week, President Biden said he would sign a resolution of disapproval if it passed the Senate and reached his desk.

At a news conference focused on public safety in the district Monday afternoon, Bowser reiterated some of his issues with the proposed changes to the code and said he agreed with Mendelson’s point that it would be best to hold off on a Senate vote.

“It seems like some members of the Senate have spoken, I’m not sure that’s practically possible,” he added.

John Wagner contributed to this report.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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