Schumer to Join GOP on D.C. Crime Bill Vote

( – The City Council in Washington D.C. did not likely predict that Democrats would join Republicans in condemning a local plan to reduce criminal penalties.

First, it was President Joe Biden who said “no” to the city’s plan. Now, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is saying he too will vote with the GOP to quash D.C.’s local bill that would reduce penalties for certain crimes.

Schumer announced his intentions to the press on March 7th.

The D.C. crime bill would have lowered penalties for crimes such as burglaries, robberies, and carjackings. But at the same time, it would have guaranteed jury trials for those charged with mere misdemeanors. This gives the appearance that the City Council wants to favor the criminally accused.

Schumer had harsh words, though, for his own party and for President Joe Biden. He said the Democrats and the White House had “badly bungled this issue,” and that his decision on the vote was a close one.

Unlike any other U.S. city, the District of Columbia is not entitled to local or “home rule” under the Constitution. It is not a state, no matter how badly Democrats would like it to be. The Constitution gives Congress the power to govern the District.

In the 1970s, Congress voluntarily granted D.C. the right to a City Council and a Mayor’s office. However, Congress may remove those rights any time it likes. While that is unlikely, the upcoming vote against D.C.’s proposal reminds the city that its home rule is at the mercy of Congress.

Mayor Muriel Bowser, also a Democrat, opposed the crime bill and vetoed it in January before the City Council overruled her.

Democratic control of the Senate is unlikely to help D.C.’s efforts, which is likely a surprise to the Council. President Biden says he will veto the local bill, and it appears nearly certain that both chambers of Congress will reject it.

Copyright 2023,