Senate Republicans To Overrule Local Democrats’ Attempt To Make Nation’s Capital Even Softer On Crime

On Wednesday The Senate Will Vote On A Resolution To Disapprove Of The D.C. Council’s Dangerous Attempt To Lower Sentences For Many Criminal Offences Just As Washington, D.C., Suffers From A Plague Of Shootings, Stabbings, Carjackings, And Other Violent Crime


SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “The proposition behind our bill is simple. It goes like this: The answer to skyrocketing violent crime in the District of Columbia is not to reduce criminal penalties even further. On what planet should this even need to be said in the first place? The murder rate in Washington is 34% higher today than it was at this time last year. Auto thefts are up 110%. Longtime D.C. residents are locking their car doors at every red light. Tourists visiting their own capital are worried about walking the streets. Just yesterday, the chief of Metropolitan Police lamented that the average homicide suspect that his department encounters has already been arrested 11 times before. Eleven times! Here’s what the police chief said: ‘What we’ve got to do – if we really want to see homicides go down – is keep bad guys with guns in jail. Because when they’re in jail, they can’t be in communities shooting people.’ But the radical politicians who run this city tried to do the opposite. The liberal city council cooked up a soft-on-crime overhaul of the criminal code that would have made it even easier for repeat offenders to get back out on the street. It would have brought the mandatory minimum sentences for crimes like robbery and carjacking down even lower than they already are. And it would have gummed up an already backlogged and dysfunctional criminal justice system by massively expanding jury trials for misdemeanors. It’s like these local Democrats have never met a single criminal they actually want locked up behind bars. It’s just remarkable. This is exactly why our laws give Congress the final say over how our nation’s capital is governed. Because we can’t have the craziness and dysfunction of a few local politicians jeopardizing basic public safety in the federal district that houses our national government. So Republicans wrote a resolution to overturn this nonsense. Bear in mind, this limited resolution would not even toughen criminal penalties. At this point we’re talking about keeping things where they are and stopping even further backsliding. The first step is to use this legal tool to stop the unhinged local politicians from making the totally unacceptable status quo even worse.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 3/07/2023)

SENATE REPUBLICAN WHIP JOHN THUNE (R-SD): “There isn't hardly a day goes by here in this city when there isn't a violent crime…. Violent crime is up 25 percent year-over-year here in Washington DC. And this is an issue that cries out for a solution. And I think that anybody who as the leader said works here, lives here, visits here would like to have a community that is safe. And this isn't just unique to Washington DC. From cities across this country from New York to Seattle, you see particularly a lot of our populated areas around the country are experiencing the same wave of crime as a result of soft on crime policies. And so, this has got to stop. We have a constitutional authority, a legislative authority here over the District of Columbia and we're going to exercise that this week. As the leader pointed out, the resolution that will be on the floor here very soon, tomorrow is one that I think will enjoy broad bipartisan support because the Democrats have recognized what we all know and the American people know. And that is that you can't continue to have policies where politicians basically put politics ahead of public safety. Where you've got prosecutors, who are not putting people away. And an environment that is permissive and encourages this type of criminal activity in a lot of our major cities across this country. So, we're going to make that statement tomorrow. And again, I believe it will be a big bipartisan vote. And it should be. Because the message needs to be sent clearly to the American people that you know, policymakers here in Washington DC that their elected officials get this. And understand how important it is that there be a strong response to the wave of crime that's been experienced across this country.” (Sen. Thune, Press Conference, 3/07/2023)

SEN. BILL HAGERTY (R-TN), Lead Sponsor Of The Resolution Of Disapproval: “We need to make certain that our Nation's Capital doesn't become a national embarrassment, and we need to make certain that we send a strong message that the American public have had it with crime in America. The crime spree that is happening in our major cities must come to an end. We are putting a marker on the ground …” (Sen. Hagerty, Congressional Record, S.676, 3/07/2023)


The Crime Surge In Washington, D.C., Shows No Signs Of Slowing Down

So far in 2023, all Washington, D.C. crime is up 25% from this time last year. (Metropolitan Police Department, Accessed 3/08/2023)


In The Last Week Alone Washington Has Seen Murders, Assaults With Knives And Baseball Bats, A Shootout With Police, An Attempted Sexual Assault, And More

“A man stabbed and killed another man inside a D.C. library in front of horrified library patrons [on March 2nd], causing two patrons to jump into action to restrain him, police said. It happened inside the Petworth Neighborhood Library in the 4200 block of Kansas Avenue NW about 7:30 p.m., as the popular community spot was filled with people…. The victim entered the library and sat at a computer on the first floor when the suspect followed him in, police said. The suspect approached him slowly, pulled out a knife and stabbed the victim in the neck, authorities said.” (“Man Stabbed to Death Inside DC’s Petworth Library; Patrons Restrain Suspect,” NBC Washington, 3/03/2023)

“Authorities say a man was killed, and a woman who police believe was an unintended target was injured, in a shooting [March 1st] near Busboys and Poets in northwest D.C. Police say the shooting happened around 9:30 p.m. in a busy area on the 1400 block of V Street NW. Officers say the man who was in his 30s was shot in the stomach and died at the scene…. Police believe the woman was struck in the leg by a stray bullet and was transported to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Investigators say bullets struck several cars and the windows of two apartments nearby. Police said it’s likely there was more than one gun that was fired since they found lots of shell casings at the scene. ‘Just brazenly fired weapons in the middle of the street in a busy intersection - near a busy intersection - in a fairly early time in the night,’ said Commander James Bolter describing the shooting at the scene [March 1st].” (“Man Killed, Woman Injured By Stray Bullet In Northwest DC Shooting,” Fox 5 DC, 3/01/2023)

“Four men were shot and killed in Washington, D.C., on [February 26th] in two separate shootings, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. The first double fatal shooting happened about 1:19 p.m. in the 3300 block of D Street SE, police said. The victims were found shot inside of a residence. Shortly after, a person of interest who knew the victims was apprehended, authorities said. A weapon was recovered at that scene. Just two hours later, another double shooting was reported in the 5200 block of Sheriff Road NE. Two men were also killed there…. It was a violent weekend in the D.C. area. On Saturday [February 25th] night, a man was killed in Southwest D.C. near Audi Field, where D.C. United’s opening game was being played. That morning, three others were shot in separate but connected shootings in Southeast, authorities said.” (“4 Men Killed in Two Separate Shootings in DC: Police,” NBC Washington, 2/26/2023)

“Authorities say an armed man who was involved in an assault in northwest D.C. fired at officers then took his own life early [on March 1st]. Police say they responded to reports of gunshots around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday in the 1400 block of Park Road where they found vehicles with flattened tires and evidence of a firearm being discharged. Investigators say several people took part in an assault at the scene and that one of the suspects was armed. Security camera footage provided them with descriptions of the suspects. Officials say the armed suspect was spotted nearby in the area of 14th Street just after 12:15 a.m. Wednesday and opened fire on police after they ordered him to stop. Police returned fire and tracked him as he fled to the 1400 block of Meridian Place where they say he ran into an alleyway. Officers then say they heard a single gunshot come from the alley where they found the gunman … dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.” (“Gunman Fired On Officers, Turned Gun On Himself Following Northwest DC Assault: Police,” Fox 5 DC, 3/01/2023)

“A woman stabbed two people inside a McDonald’s on 18th Street NW, and she is still on the loose, D.C. police said. Police were called shortly before 8:45 p.m. Sunday to the fast-food restaurant in the 2400 block of 18th St NW, at the intersection with Columbia Road NW in D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood.” (“Man, Woman Stabbed Inside Adams Morgan McDonald’s,” NBC Washington, 2/26/2023)

“A woman was hit in the head with a bat outside &pizza on U Street in northwest D.C., according to a police report. DC Police officers were dispatched to an assault with a bat at &pizza located at 1250 U Street NW around 11 p.m. on Sunday night. The victim was sitting in front of &pizza bleeding from the back of her head. The victim and a witness told police that the suspect hit the victim in the back of the head with a bat and locked the door of &pizza…. The suspect … of Southeast D.C., was arrested and charged with Assault with a Dangerous Weapon.” (“Woman Hit With Bat Outside &Pizza On U Street In DC: Police,” Fox 5 DC, 3/06/2023)

“A woman says a man tried to sexually assault her inside a room the two were sharing at a hostel in Northwest D.C. [on February 28th]…. She told police she feared for her life and thought she was going to be raped.” (“Woman Says She Escaped Sexual Assault in a DC Hostel,” NBC Washington, 3/01/2023)

“A D.C. man was arrested and faces charges in a string of 18 burglaries and robberies that police say were committed over the last several months…. Investigators say his crime spree began in October of last year with a burglary on Wisconsin Avenue. Officers say last Thursday he forcibly entered an establishment on 18th Street. Investigators say he used a gun during an armed robbery on February 7 on Belmont Street. The investigation is continuing.” (“DC Man Charged In Connection With 18 Burglaries, Robberies,” Fox 5 DC, 3/02/2023)


Frustrated Police Officers Lament, ‘We’re Seeing Carjackings Virtually Every Day,’ And Point Out That Criminals Are Usually Committing Multiple Offenses

“D.C.’s grim carjacking stats are updated daily online, but they’re no surprise to Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Valkyrie Barnes. ‘It’s a heavy pace,’ Barnes told the I-Team recently at the scene of an unsolved carjacking from September 2022. Barnes said ‘it’s likely’ the group of seven suspects has attacked again while MPD works on the case. ‘We’re seeing carjackings virtually every day,’ Barnes said. According to MPD’s own reporting, D.C. is seeing on average more than one carjacking per day this year.” (“MPD Carjacking Task Force: ‘We Need More’ Officers as Crimes Soar,” NBC Washington, 2/23/2023)

  • “The department has repeatedly said in recent months that MPD staffing is at a historic low number of officers and trying to strengthen units from patrol to criminal investigations. The carjacking task force is just one of the units looking for help. … ‘We need more (detectives),’ Barnes said. ‘The depth and the pattern cases that we’re seeing … there is a connectedness between the offenses that are occurring to our victims. It’s just not one offender is doing one carjacking. What we’re seeing is that the same vehicle is being used in a number of offenses.’” (“MPD Carjacking Task Force: ‘We Need More’ Officers as Crimes Soar,” NBC Washington, 2/23/2023)

“Two 15-year-old girls are facing charges after police say they attempted to carjack one person and successfully took another car at knifepoint less than six hours later. According to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), officers were called to the 1200 block of V Street just before 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18. When they arrived, the victim told officers they were moving their vehicle out of a parking space when the suspects tried to take the car. The victim drove away and called the police. Less than six hours later, just after 2:15 a.m., officers were called to the 400 block of Rhode Island Avenue in Northwest. According to a police report, the victim was found by officers bleeding from her right shoulder. The victim told officers she and another person were sitting in the car at a gas station when three girls walked up and surrounded the car before demanding the passenger get out. The passenger got out of the car and that is when the witness said one of the suspects sat down in the car and stabbed the driver in the shoulder with a pocket knife. The driver got out of the car after she was stabbed and the three suspects reportedly got into the car and drove away in her car…. A short time later, MPD says the stolen car was found with the two 15-year-old girls inside after a traffic accident in the 900 block of 17th Street, Northeast D.C. Both suspects were taken into custody. There is no word on what happened to the third suspect.” (“Two Teenage Girls Arrested For Stabbing Carjacking Victim In Northwest DC, WUSA9, 2/21/2023)

“Detectives with the Metropolitan Police Department have made an arrest in connection with two armed carjackings that occurred in Southeast, D.C…. On Wednesday [a] 19-year-old [suspect] was arrested and charged with two counts of armed carjacking for his alleged involvement in the following incidents. Police say on Saturday, Jan. 28, around 1 a.m., suspects approached a victim seated in a vehicle in the 3900 block of South Capitol Street, Southeast. One of the suspects then took out a gun and demanded the victim get out of his vehicle. This is when investigators say the suspect assaulted the victim and the suspects fled the scene in the stolen car. On Saturday, Feb. 4, around 8:48 p.m., police claim the same suspects approached a victim in the 1200 block of 29th Street, Southeast. Detectives say one of the suspects took out a gun and demanded the keys to the victim’s vehicle. The suspect then fired the gun into the air and struck the victim with the gun, according to a news release. Police say the suspects fled once again in the victim’s vehicle.” (“Police Arrest 19-Year-Old In Connection With DC Car Thefts,” WUSA9, 3/02/2023)

“Detectives with the Metropolitan Police Department have made an arrest in connection with an armed robbery and attempted carjacking that occurred on Friday, March 3 in Northeast D.C. Another suspect is still wanted by police. Police arrested [a] 20-year-old [suspect], on Friday for his alleged involvement in the following. Around 5:36 p.m. on Friday afternoon, the suspects approached the victim in the 4000 block of 8th Street, Northeast. Investigators claim one of the suspects took out a gun and demanded the victim’s property. The suspects then took the victim’s car keys and then both suspects fled in the stolen vehicle. Just six minutes later, around 5:42 p.m., the suspects approached another victim in the 4800 block of North Capitol Street, Northeast. The victim in this case was seated inside their vehicle. Police claim one of the suspects got into the victim’s vehicle, showed off a gun, and demanded the victim get out of the vehicle. A struggle ensued, and this is when, investigators say the gun discharged, striking the suspect. Both suspects fled the scene at this point.” (“MPD: One Man Arrested, Another Wanted For Armed Robbery, Attempted Carjacking In NE DC,” WUSA9, 3/04/2023)


Fed Up, The Chief Of Police Explained What ‘We Need To Do Different’ Is ‘To Keep Violent People In Jail’

WASHINGTON, DC, METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT CHIEF ROBERT CONTEE III: “What we’ve got to do—if we really want to see homicides go down—is keep bad guys with guns in jail. Because when they’re in jail, they can’t be in communities shooting people. So when people talk about what we’re going to do different, or what we should do different, what we need to do different, that’s the thing that we need to do different. We need to keep violent people in jail.” (Chief Contee, Press Conference, 3/06/2023)

  • CHIEF CONTEE: “Right now, the average homicide suspect—the average homicide suspect—has been arrested 11 times prior to them committing a homicide. That is a problem. That is a problem.” (Chief Contee, Press Conference, 3/06/2023)


Which Is Precisely Why Senate Republicans Have Led The Charge To Overturn The D.C. Council’s Reckless New Criminal Code That Would Have Reduced Penalties For Many Serious Crimes

SEN. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R-WV): “And part of this is because of this soft on crime approach where we’re putting our law enforcement in very, very difficult situations, and we’re also endangering the public. We see here in Washington DC where the DC City 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 what does that say to our traveling public that’s going to be coming up to this beautiful city? That you’re not going to be as safe here as you would like to be, as young families are going to be coming through spring break and in through the summer. 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 -- after we get back from the break, with a resolution of disapproval on the DC Council’s decision. But I think it really shines a light on where we’re seeing across this country, on the West Coast all the way through to the East Coast, a very soft on crime, defund the police agenda that is causing these rise in crime rates.” (Sen. Capito, Press Conference, 2/14/2023)

  • SEN. CAPITO: “Here in our Nation’s Capital, amid surging violent crime and police shortages, DC’s City Council is attempting a dangerous and irresponsible rewrite of their criminal code. Reducing the penalties for violent crimes--carjackings, robberies, and even homicides--as these numbers rise is incredibly tone deaf to local calls for increased safety and policing. This is happening right in the President’s backyard. So I commend my colleague Senator Bill Hagerty from Tennessee for introducing a resolution of disapproval to block the DC City Council’s dangerous and irresponsible Revised Criminal Code Act of 2022 from taking effect. The DC City Council’s legislation is the complete opposite of what we need to control this out-of-control crime.” (Sen. Capito, Congressional Record, S.411, 2/15/2023)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member: “This is numbers for the District of Columbia, your Nation’s Capital: Total DC crime has increased 25 percent from 2022 to 2023 as of March 3. Carjackings are up 111 percent, have increased for the fifth straight year. Homicides are up 40 percent, and DC has already reached 38 homicides. The average homicide suspect has been arrested 11 times before committing a homicide. Sexual assaults are up 123 percent. Property crimes are up 32 percent. There have been 393 robberies in DC during the last 2 months. … So if there was an award to be given for bad ideas, I would nominate what the DC City Council did in trying to reduce punishments for crimes against persons and property at a time when the city is on fire in terms of crime. So Senator Hagerty and others have stepped into the breach…. [W]e are going to vote and we are going to end this ill-conceived idea. And I want to thank Senator Hagerty for his leadership, and I look forward to being his wingman tomorrow.” (Sen. Graham, Congressional Record, S.674, 3/07/2023)

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): “We’ve seen this movie before. We all remember the disastrous ‘defund the police’ movement where the idea was to ‘reimagine public safety.’ The only problem was the people reimagining public safety forgot about the fact that law enforcement is there not only to protect us but to deter people from committing offenses in the first place.” (Sen. Cornyn, Press Conference, 2/14/2023)

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): “The first principle of government is to protect people and their property. … I’m sorry that the City Council in the District of Columbia doesn’t understand that – but it is our responsibility.” (Sen. Kennedy, Press Conference, 2/14/2023)

SEN. MIKE BRAUN (R-IN): “You shouldn’t have to be fearful when you are walking on any street – D.C. especially. … The crime we are dealing with here is also rampant across the country. … Enough is enough.” (Sen. Braun, Press Conference, 2/14/2023)

SEN. ERIC SCHMITT (R-MO): “Real people are suffering. There are grandmothers that are tired of sweeping up glass on Sunday mornings. There are mothers, daughters, and sons who are dying and living in fear as people terrorize their communities. I think it is incumbent on us to step up and do something about that. I don’t think for a minute that this needs to be a partisan issue.” (Sen. Schmitt, Press Conference, 2/14/2023)

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): “Crime has gone up 25 percent just in the last year in Washington, DC--just in the last year…. What in the world is going on? In the middle of rampant increase in crime in Washington, DC, the DC City Council’s response to this in an overwhelming vote was to reduce penalties for felonies and to be able to say that if you commit a misdemeanor, then you actually have to have a jury trial as well, knowing full well that would clog up the courts, and basically misdemeanors would never be heard, and so they just wouldn’t happen. No one would actually get a misdemeanor record in Washington, DC. So their plan to end this rampant increase in crime is just not to enforce the law, and if you were caught, you would get out faster, to get back to the street to be able to commit crimes again. Listen, there are amazing people who live in this area, Washington, DC, remarkable residents who love this city and love this country, and they do not want to be afraid for their kids going to school….  This should not be so for this great capital and for this great Nation, and the response should not be, we are just not going to enforce the law…. It is time that we speak out for a simple principle: Defunding the police, decriminalizing criminal activity, taking school resource officers out of schools, and saying ‘We just won’t enforce the law’ doesn’t stop crime; it accelerates crime.” (Sen. Lankford, Congressional Record, S.675-676, 3/07/2023)

SEN. JOHN BOOZMAN (R-AR) “I rise today to discuss the staggering crime problem plaguing the Nation’s Capital and an outrageous attempt to unleash even more of it on residents and visitors alike. The DC City Council unanimously voted last year to substantially weaken its criminal code, including by eliminating life sentences and most mandatory minimums for any crime but first-degree murder. It is also lowering maximum penalties for some violent offenses like carjacking and robberies. These so-called reforms weren’t just opposed by Republicans; they were even a bridge too far for the District’s Democratic Mayor who vetoed the legislation, only to see that overruled by the City Council by a 12 to 1 margin. … How should these victims react to these senseless proposals that delegitimize their suffering and the consequences that they will provoke? Unlike our Democratic colleagues, Republicans won’t make excuses for criminals, and we won’t sit back and allow far-left ideology to gut the criminal justice system of civility to deter and punish unlawful, violent behavior.” (Sen. Boozman, Congressional Record, S.674-675, 3/07/2023)



Related Issues: Law Enforcement, Crime