Biden says he won’t veto effort to repeal DC crime law

(CNN) President Joe Biden surprised Democratic senators Thursday when he told them He won’t veto the GOP-led legislation As Democrats split on the controversial issue of repealing a controversial Washington, D.C., crime law, Republicans are aggressively accusing Republicans of being soft on crime.

A Senate vote to repeal the DC bill is expected next week. It passed the Republican-controlled House last month with the support of 31 Democrats.

The upcoming vote has divided Senate Democrats, reflecting the delicate balance the party faces on the crime issue. Biden’s announcement angered some in his own party, including progressives who argue that the district’s elected leaders have the right to govern themselves. Biden’s announcement has left moderate Democrats who voted against the Republican proposal more open to political attacks from the GOP for being soft on crime.

In a recent floor speech, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell supported the push to repeal the DC Act.

“When local government on soft crime becomes this incompetent; when members of Congress can’t go about their daily lives without being attacked; when families can’t come safely to their own capital; it’s time for federal. government to provide some adult oversight,” the Kentucky Republican said.

According to a source familiar with the matter, Biden’s announcement was planned in advance, and White House officials dodged questions about whether he would veto the measure until days later. Instead, they pointed to an administrative policy statement that opposed the move on grounds of respect for the district’s autonomy.

Biden confirmed his decision in a tweet on Thursday.

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“I support DC state and home rule — but I don’t support some of the changes the DC Council has proposed over the mayor’s objections — like lowering the fines for car thefts,” Biden tweeted. @POTUS account. “If the Senate votes to repeal what the DC Council did – I will sign it.”

In a symbol of progressive anger, New York’s Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded directly to Biden’s commentsHe denied Biden’s claim that he supports DC’s ability to govern itself.

“This is not it. DC has the same right to govern itself as any other state or municipality. If the president supports DC statehood, he should govern as such,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Thursday night. “There are plenty of places where the president passes laws he disagrees with. The people of DC should respect the government as he does elsewhere.”

Eliminating any mention of policy underscores an implicit reality: Biden disagrees with DC council policy.

Many Democrats oppose overriding the law on principle, arguing that local officials should make their own laws without interference from Congress. But following news that Biden would not issue a veto, several Senate Democrats are now publicly saying they will vote for the measure.

Hawaii Sen. Masi Hirono said he was torn: “On the one hand, I’m very supportive of DC state. I support home rule. … On the other hand, when the mayor vetoed this bill he said it doesn’t provide enough protection. Even though 95% of the bill is good, I’m torn.”

A Democrat from Arizona, Sen. Mark Kelly told CNN that he thinks many of his fellow Democrats, including himself, will “vote for it.”

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Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey said he had made up his mind before Biden’s announcement, but that he, too, would vote for the House measure.

Sen. from New Mexico. Martin Heinrich said, “It’s not that accurate to call it home rule. It’s about us all recognizing that there are some serious crime problems and fixing that.” He will vote accordingly.

Many, including staunch defenders of DC statehood, said they were still weighing a decision.

“This is a complex issue,” said Sen. of Virginia. Tim Kaine said he would consider it over the weekend.

Sen. from Montana, a Democrat. “I still haven’t been briefed,” said John Tester.

Sen. from Nevada. Jackie Rosen said they are still reviewing it.

This story has been updated with additional updates.

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