President Joe Biden signed a law overturning a District of Columbia crime bill that opponents have called weak on crime. The bill was subject to a congressional review based on the city’s status as a federal district. 

The bill introduced a series of penal code changes to the District of Columbia that reexamined century-old criminal statutes. The new codes eliminated most mandatory minimum sentences and reduced mandatory maximum penalties.

Biden’s rejection of the law divided Democrats in the House and Senate. Progressives fought for Washington, D.C.’s sovereignty while moderates sought a more tough-on-crime approach. Republicans universally stood in opposition to the bill’s passage.

“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,” Biden said in a tweet, siding with moderate Democrats. “If the Senate votes to overturn what D.C. Council did — I’ll sign it.”


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Progressives pointed out that the bill has been largely misunderstood since its inception.

“It lowers the carjacking maximum to 24 years, but that’s IN LINE with many states,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) wrote on Twitter. “And the bill INCREASES sentences for attempted murder, attempted sexual assault, misdemeanor sexual abuse and many other crimes.”

Meanwhile, Republicans embraced Biden’s rejection of the D.C. law.

“I am glad President Biden has finally acknowledged that we have a violent crime problem in our nation’s capital and that Congress has a vital role in ensuring that the D.C. Council’s soft-on-crime measure does not become law,” Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tennessee) said in a statement.

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