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Tipsheet

These Senate Democrats Voted in Support of D.C.'s Soft-on-Crime Bill

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

After the city council in Washington, D.C., tried to withdraw its overhaul of criminal code in the nation's capital, the United States Senate moved ahead with its review anyway and approved a resolution to strike down the District of Columbia's new soft-on-crime policy Wednesday night.

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By an overwhelmingly bipartisan 81-14 vote, the Senate passed the resolution House Republicans guided through the lower chamber earlier. 

The bipartisan rejection of D.C.'s attempt to rewrite its criminal code in a way that would lessen penalties amid a surge in violent crime is unsurprising, given President Joe Biden's pronouncement that he would allow Congress' decision to stand. 

But, in a case of Democrats in disarray, Biden only announced that position after the House had already voted on the resolution to disapprove of D.C.'s crime bill, "infuriating" many Democrats who felt left out to dry for a vote they might have done differently if they knew the resolution wasn't going to ultimately be vetoed by the president.

What is notable, however, is that 14 Democrat members of the Senate — who knew the resolution wasn't going to be vetoed by Biden — still chose to signal their support for D.C.'s decision to overhaul the city's criminal code, one that even Democrat D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser did not approve. 

The Senators voting to let D.C.'s crime bill stand were:

  • Cory Booker (D-NJ)
  • Ben Cardin (D-MD)
  • Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
  • Dick Durbin (D-IL)
  • Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
  • Ed Markey (D-MA)
  • Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
  • Chris Murphy (D-CT)
  • Jack Reed (D-RI)
  • Bernie Sanders (I-VT, caucuses with Democrats)
  • Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
  • Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
  • Peter Welch (D-VT)
  • Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
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Meanwhile, even Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) voted with Republicans to disapprove of D.C.'s new criminal code. 

Even though Mayor Bowser initially vetoed the D.C. Council's crime bill — only to have her veto overridden in a nearly unanimous vote — she still criticized Congress for passing a resolution to disapprove of the legislation and strike it down. Bowser's complaint, she explained on Wednesday evening, was that Congress had chosen to "interfere in our local governance."

The resolution disapproving of D.C.'s crime bill now goes to President Biden, who has said he will not veto it. We'll see whether Mayor Bowser is able to get the D.C. Council to "get right to work" after this attempt turned into such a mess for Democrats.

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