Senate Republicans Lead Effort To Roll Back Washington, D.C.’s Dangerous Move To Reduce Criminal Sentences During A Crime Wave

Senate Republicans Intend To Force A Vote In The Senate Following A Bipartisan Vote In The House To Support Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Opposition To The D.C. Council’s Reckless And Irresponsible Move To Reduce Penalties For Violent Crimes While The City Suffers From A Crime Wave


SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “[T]he D.C. Council here is so completely captured by the woke far left, they have responded to this crime wave with a new criminal code that reduces penalties even further! [Recently], the Council overrode the mayor’s veto and pushed through a measure that shreds the maximum punishment for gun crimes. It eliminates almost all mandatory minimum sentences. It will clog up the court system with massive expansions of new jury trials for misdemeanors. Well, the good news on this front is that the United States Congress gets to have the final word over reckless local policies from the D.C. government. Senate Republicans will have a lot more to say on this subject.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 1/25/2023)

SEN. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R-WV): “We see here in Washington DC where the DC Council has moved forward to put into policy a soft on crime agenda, which is lessening the penalties for carjacking and other very violent crimes. And so I would say that we need to focus on this issue, and that's what our colleague Bill Hagerty is going to be doing next … with a resolution of disapproval on the DC Council's decision.” (Sen. Capito, Press Conference, 2/14/2023)


‘The D.C. Council’s Bill Makes Our Nation’s Capital Less Safe For Residents, For Employees, And People That Would Visit Us Here From Around The Country And From Around The World’

SEN. BILL HAGERTY (R-TN) and REP. ANDREW CLYDE (R-GA): “D.C. should be safe for residents and visitors alike, yet in the face of rising crime rates, our nation’s capital is in jeopardy of becoming even more dangerous. Remarkably, the D.C. Council voted to reduce maximum penalties for certain criminal offenses, including home invasions, carjackings and robberies. The radical rewrite of the criminal code has faced warranted backlash, with the mayor vetoing the legislation and explaining to the council: ‘This bill does not make us safer.’ The D.C. Council responded by overriding her veto. We agree with the mayor. Because Congress shares responsibility for the District, this measure is before both chambers for review under the D.C. Home Rule Act. In good conscience, we cannot approve legislation that will exacerbate a worsening crime wave. Therefore, we introduced a joint resolution of disapproval to block the bill.” (Sen. Hagerty and Rep. Clyde, Op-Ed, “Congress Must Save Our Capital,” The Washington Post, 2/08/2023)

  • SEN. HAGERTY and REP. CLYDE: “Article I’s enclave clause gives Congress exclusive legislative jurisdiction over our nation’s capital. Therefore, Congress has a constitutional responsibility regarding D.C.’s affairs…. Decreasing penalties for violent criminal offenses will undoubtedly embolden criminals and threaten the safety of both residents and visitors. Washingtonians, local businesses and constituents alike will inevitably encounter greater danger — carjackings in broad daylight, robberies on daily commutes and brutal assaults in the streets. Given the potentially severe consequences of the D.C. Council’s bill, Congress has an obligation — constitutionally and morally — to ensure such a self-destructive measure does not become law.” (Sen. Hagerty and Rep. Clyde, Op-Ed, “Congress Must Save Our Capital,” The Washington Post, 2/08/2023)

SEN. HAGERTY: “As Mayor Bowser put it in vetoing the bill, ‘This bill does not make us safer.’ I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I’m leading the Senate resolution to block this bill under the D.C. Home Rule Act. In our nation’s capital, Congress has a constitutional obligation to preserve law and order because Americans travel here from all over the country to meet with their federal Representatives. They shouldn’t have to worry about their safety. The D.C. Council’s Bill makes our nation’s capital less safe for residents, for employees, and people that would visit us here from around the country and from around the world. … I implore my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join this effort. Let’s send our resolution of disapproval to President [Joe] Biden’s desk. I can’t believe that President Biden wants to encourage more crime here in the District of Columbia. Combating crime should not be a Republican or a Democrat issue— it should be a commonsense issue, a bipartisan issue.” (Sen. Hagerty, Press Release, 2/14/2023)


A Bipartisan Majority Of The House Voted To Overturn The D.C. Council’s Irresponsible Legislation

A bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives voted to overturn the D.C. Council’s criminal code changes, which included 31 Democrats. (H.J. Res. 26, Roll Call Vote #119: Passed 250-173: R 219-0; D 31-173, 2/09/2023)


A Surge In Crime Has Afflicted Washington, D.C., In Recent Years

So far in 2023, all Washington, D.C. crime is up 22% from this time last year. (Metropolitan Police Department, Accessed 2/16/2023)

In 2021 And 2022, D.C. Suffered Two Years In A Row With 200 Or More Homicides For The First Time In Two Decades

“There were 203 homicides in Washington, D.C., in 2022, according to new statistics from Chief Robert Contee of the Metropolitan Police Department…. ‘Last year, 203 people lost their lives to senseless violence in our city,’ Contee said, in part. ‘That’s 203 too many, period. Over and over, we see people turning to illegal guns to commit acts of violence. It is completely unacceptable, and it must stop now. Gun violence is an epidemic that is tearing life from our city. What’s left behind are the countless friends and family members whose lives have been forever changed.’” (“‘Must Stop Now’: DC Police Recorded More Than 200 Homicides Last Year,” ABC 7 Washington, 1/02/2023)

“According to the D.C. police union, 226 homicides took place in 2021, and 198 occurred in 2020, despite COVID lockdowns. ‘This is the first time since 2002-2003 that DC has suffered back-to-back years with 200-plus homicides,’ the D.C. Police Union tweeted.” (“‘Must Stop Now’: DC Police Recorded More Than 200 Homicides Last Year,” ABC 7 Washington, 1/02/2023)

“D.C. police said they confiscated at least 3,154 illegal firearms in 2022, 30 percent more than in 2021…. [T]hrough Dec. 29, nearly twice as many juveniles — 105 — were struck by gunfire as the year before. And 18 people under 18 were victims of homicide in the city in 2022, 16 felled by gunfire. That is up from eight juveniles fatally shot of 12 killed in 2021.” (The Washington Post, 12/31/2022)

‘Carjackings In D.C. Increased For A Fifth Straight Year In 2022’

“Carjackings in D.C. increased for a fifth straight year in 2022. There were 485 incidents reported to D.C. police, a 14% jump from 2021. Why it matters: The crimes have rattled residents, putting them on guard during everyday errands.” (“D.C. Carjackings Rise For Fifth Straight Year,” Axios, 1/4/2023)

There have been 73 carjackings thus far in 2023 with 67% involving guns. (Metropolitan Police Department, Accessed 2/16/2023)

“In D.C., carjackings have spiked more than 200 percent since 2019. D.C. police said nearly 70 percent of carjacking cases in 2022 involved juvenile offenders.” (The Washington Post, 12/31/2022)

More And More D.C. Residents Wake Up To Find The Wheels Stolen Off Their Vehicles, A Crime That Has Increased Over 250% In The Last Year

“Tire and rim thefts, like carjackings, are not new to the region, but the number of incidents rose enough in 2022 to put residents on edge with the fear that their vehicle might be targeted next. Frustrated victims and neighborhood watchdogs fill social media feeds with pictures and videos of stranded cars on blocks, pleading for law enforcement to intervene.” (“Residents Seek Action As Tire And Rim Thefts Increase,” The Washington Post, 2/08/2023)

“The District recorded 610 reports of tire and rim thefts between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2022, compared with 161 reports between January and Oct. 10 in 2021…. By contrast, incidents of theft dipped in the Virginia suburbs.” (“Residents Seek Action As Tire And Rim Thefts Increase,” The Washington Post, 2/08/2023)


Yet The D.C. Council Passed A Rewrite Of The City’s Criminal Code That Reduced Penalties For Criminal Offenses Including Carjacking, ‘Robberies, Burglaries And Home Invasions’

“The criminal bill would overhaul D.C.’s criminal statute for the first time since 1901, including by reducing sentences … But the legislation, which would take effect in 2025, earned pushback from law enforcement. The D.C. Police Union said in a statement that the bill ‘will lead to violent crime rates exploding even more than they already have.’ And in January, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser vetoed it, writing in a letter that she had ‘very significant concerns’ about some of the bill’s proposals. Bowser specifically cited provisions that would reduce penalties for criminal offenses related to firearm possession as well as for robberies, burglaries and home invasions. Nonetheless, the D.C. Council overrode her veto.” (“House Passes Resolutions To Block DC Voting, Criminal Code Changes,” Roll Call, 2/09/2023)

“Under current law, unarmed carjacking has a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years and maximum sentence of 21. If armed, that jumps to 15 and 40, respectively…. Under the revised code, carjacking is divided into three gradations depending on severity, with the lowest penalties for an unarmed offense running from four to 18 years and the highest penalties for an armed offense ranging from 12 to 24 years. So yes, penalties for carjacking have indeed been reduced.” (DCist, 1/27/2023)

D.C.’s Mayor Vetoed The Council’s Legislation Because ‘This Bill Does Not Make Us Safer’

WASHINGTON, D.C. MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER: “This bill does not make us safer… Anytime there’s a policy that reduces penalties, I think it sends the wrong message.” (“DC Mayor Bowser Vetoes Criminal Code Overhaul,” NBC Washington, 1/4/2023)

And The U.S. Attorney For D.C. Warned That ‘The Proposed Maximum Penalties For Burglary, Robbery, And Carjacking Are Too Low’

MATTHEW GRAVES, U.S. ATTORNEY for the DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: “[This legislation will] substantially lower the statutory maximums for these offenses [burglaries, robberies, and carjackings], in some instances by as much as 80%. We are concerned that the significant reduction in certain maximum penalties for serious violent crimes prevents courts from imposing penalties that appropriately reflect the seriousness of the offense and the defendant’s criminal history…. The proposed maximum penalties for burglary, robbery, and carjacking are too low, and they have the potential to dramatically drive down the sentences that are currently imposed for those crimes.” (Matthew Graves, Letter to the Council of the District of Columbia, 10/20/2022)



Related Issues: Law Enforcement, Crime