Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters on Tuesday he will vote with Republicans on overturning a controversial D.C. crime bill that would have reduced maximum penalties for certain crimes, including burglaries, robberies, and carjackings.
Asked Tuesday how he would vote and how his party and how the White House “so badly bungled this issue,” Schumer said: “I’m going to vote yes. It was a close question. But on balance, I’m voting yes.”
The original D.C. legislation would have reduced maximum penalties for certain crimes, including burglaries, robberies, and carjackings, along with scrapping some mandatory minimum sentences. It faced backlash from conservatives and some liberals; Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser vetoed it this past January, but the city council overrode her veto.
Then, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives stepped in with a measure to override the city council changes. President Biden said last week he’d sign the House measure rather than veto it.
Under the Constitution, Congress can serve as a super city council for the District of Columbia.
Schumer confirmed on Monday that the vote will take place this week. A Senate leadership aide said the vote would be on the House disapproval resolution, rather than the D.C. Council’s transmission to the Senate.
Despite Democratic control of the Senate, the criminal code seems likely to be rejected. One Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, already has said he will vote to overturn the law. Another, John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, is in the hospital, seeking treatment for clinical depression.
Hopes for presidential intervention were quashed last week when Biden stated that he would not use his veto if the measure reaches his desk. Biden publicly supports D.C. statehood and generally objects to Congress overturning the laws of the city’s elected officials.
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