President Joe Biden told a group of Senate Democrats on Thursday in a closed-door meeting that he will not veto a Republican measure to repeal a new progressive crime bill passed by the Washington, D.C. City Council.

Washington D.C. is under federal jurisdiction, and thus Congress can directly overrule local politicians in the area. The GOP-sponsored bill, however, would be the first time since 1991 that Congress has overridden a local D.C. law.

The D.C. Council bill, perhaps most controversially, would reduce the penalties for carjackings and get rid of certain mandatory minimum measures — despite rising crime rates in the city. The bill was pushed through the city’s council with a veto-proof majority, enabling it to disregard several key objections by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Not all Democrats are on board with Biden’s refusal to veto the bill. Sen Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), for example, argued that the GOP bill was inherently anti-democratic.


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“To me, the Congress should not substitute its judgment for the elected representatives of the people of the District of Columbia.”

While D.C. locals will surely be angered by Congress’ interjection into their policy, some Democrats who attended the closed-door meeting, such as Sen Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), agreed with Biden’s assessment.

“I guess [Biden] thinks it’s too far — a bridge too far, which it really is. I’m glad he said that,” said the conservative Democrat as he left the meeting.

Other Democrats, either publicly or privately, are surely relieved by Biden’s refusal to veto the GOP measure, since progressive crime policy is seen as a political liability in many parts of the country. Although the bill only applies to the jurisdiction of Washington D.C., a highly progressive city controlled largely by Democrats, a veto by Biden could be seen as a wider endorsement of progressive crime policy by the Democratic Party.

Potential immigration reform, a strategy to counter GOP opposition to raising the debt ceiling solution, an online safety bill for children, railroad protections after the East Palestine disaster and insulin prices were other areas of discussion during Biden’s meeting with prominent Senate Democrats.

Although the Democratic president has yet to officially announce his candidacy for a second term, several attendees at the meeting suggested he is almost certainly running.

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