House Dems furious over Biden switch to support GOP resolution against D.C. crime bill

March 3, 2023

President Joe Biden on Thursday "shocked" and angered some of his Democratic comrades in Congress when he unexpectedly signaled his support for a Republican-backed resolution that those same Democrats opposed, the Washington Examiner reported.

The GOP-pushed resolution to disapprove and overturn a criminal justice reform measure passed by the Democrat-dominated Washington D.C. City Council had initially been opposed and rejected by Biden's White House as an inappropriate "denial of self-governance" for the special district that serves as the nation's capital.

The D.C. crime bill

The D.C. crime bill, which had been vetoed by Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser but overridden by the City Council, would dramatically reform the district's criminal laws, including the substantial reduction or elimination of mandatory minimum sentences for a wide variety of violent crimes -- even as violent crime has surged in the city in recent years.

House Republicans vehemently opposed that measure and, given the fact that Congress retains oversight of D.C., crafted and passed the disapproval resolution in January to block the crime bill from becoming law, as well as another D.C. bill that would extend the right to vote to noncitizens, including illegal aliens and foreign diplomats.

The White House in February, however, issued a sternly worded "statement of administration policy" that firmly rejected both of those GOP-backed resolutions, declared that D.C. had a right to self-governance, and expressed support for efforts to grant D.C. statehood and full representation in the House and Senate.

Biden's about-face

Everything changed on Thursday, though, according to Axios, as President Biden announced following a luncheon with Senate Democrats that he would sign the Republican-backed resolution if it reached his desk.

That seems likely to happen, as several moderate Senate Democrats have already indicated that they plan to vote in support of the GOP resolution, not to mention the fact that Senate Democrats are currently shorthanded with at least two members hospitalized -- Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and John Fetterman (D-PA) -- and technically no longer hold the majority advantage.

Biden said in a tweet, "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."

House Dems feel they were "hung out to dry" by Biden

The Hill reported that the president's sudden about-face on the D.C. crime bill did not go over well with many House Democrats who, in light of the prior statement from the White House, had confidently voted against the GOP resolution to overturn the local measure.

One unnamed House Democrat told the outlet in a text, "The White House f--ked this up royally," and further noted, "So a lot of us who are allies voted no in order to support what the White House wanted. And now we are being hung out to dry."

That representative added, "F--KING AMATEUR HOUR. HEADS SHOULD ROLL OVER AT THE WHITE HOUSE OVER THIS," as well as that there were many other Democratic lawmakers who were similarly "EXTREMELY pissed" about what had just occurred.

Other House Democrats also shared with The Hill, albeit more diplomatically, how "disappointed" and "shocked" they were by what Biden had done.

White House struggles to explain changed stance

Meanwhile, President Biden's shifted stance on the D.C. crime bill also apparently caught White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre flat-footed, as she struggled mightily during Thursday's briefing to try and explain the president's seemingly contradictory positions of, on the one hand, supporting statehood and self-governance for D.C. while, on the other hand, also supporting the effort to intervene and overturn the bill that D.C. had passed for itself.

Indeed, the press secretary repeatedly stumbled over herself and backtracked as she sought to reconcile the disparate positions and convince the American people that they should still believe what the White House says -- even when the president says something completely different later.

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