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Tipsheet

Nancy Pelosi Criticizes Biden for Giving Republicans a Win Over DC Crime Bill

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) criticized President Joe Biden's handling of a controversial, GOP-led resolution that would overturn parts of a D.C. crime bill, complaining that he should have given Democrats "a heads up."

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"If [Biden] was going to do it, I wish he would've told us first because this was a hard vote for the House members," Pelosi said during an event where she was asked if she agreed with the president's decision on the bill. "And it's a hard vote for the Senate members. And the Mayor of District of Columbia even differed from the legislators who passed it, so it wasn't that clear."

Last November, the D.C. council voted to pass the Revised Criminal Code Act, which includes reduced maximum sentences, eliminating all mandatory minimum sentences, and expanding rights to jury trials by those accused of misdemeanors. 

The bill received heavy backlash from Democrats because it overturned parts passed by the city's council in January. D.C. Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser attempted to veto the crime bill but was overruled by a city council in a 12-1 vote, prompting Republican lawmakers to propose a resolution to overturn the law. 

"I'm a big supporter of statehood for the District of Columbia. I voted with the District of Columbia," Pelosi said. "I understand why some people voted against it. But if the president's going to do it, hey, could you give us a heads up too in the House?" Pelosi continued. 

Critics warn that the bill goes even softer on crime, an ongoing issue for several states nationwide.

On Thursday, Biden met with the Senate Democratic caucus, saying he would not sign the legislation. This caused the party to erupt in a fury claiming they were blindsided by the president's intentions, letting Republicans score a win. 

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"The White House f—– this up royally," one Democrat on Capitol Hill said, noting the White House had previously issued a Statement of Administration Policy opposing the bill and backing D.C., adding that the House Democratic leadership told lawmakers that Biden was going to veto the resolution. 

173 Democrats voted against the bill; however, when the resolution passed, Biden seemed to abruptly change his position on the matter, tweeting: "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."

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended Biden's decision, insisting that "there was never a change of heart."

The bill is expected to pass the Senate next week due to support from centrist Democrats.

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