“Don’t pick out DC”: Holmes Norton reflects on Biden’s support for GOP-backed crime bill
House Democrats came out of their retreat frustrated with the president’s poor timing and missed opportunity to practice what he preaches on statehood for the nation’s capital.
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The news reverberated from Capitol Hill to the Baltimore hotel House Democrats were holding their annual retreat: President Joe Biden last Thursday told Senate Democrats in a closed-door lunch that he wouldn’t veto a resolution to overturn a controversial DC crime bill if they passed it. Instead, Biden said he would sign the resolution into law — a move that would run counter to his support of DC statehood and the District residents’ ability to govern their local affairs.
Broadly speaking, Republicans view crime as a political winner based on a law-and-order reputation that defies modern history. The current leader of the party is a twice-impeached former president under criminal investigation who says he will still run for president even if he’s indicted as a result of those inquiries. And the most influential members of the GOP sympathize with the insurrectionists who stormed the US Capitol a little over two years ago.
Nonetheless, congressional Republicans successfully deployed the DC crime bill as a wedge issue that tempered the unity message House Democrats and President Biden promoted throughout the retreat and turned what was thought to be a vote on principle a few weeks ago into a potential liability as they attempt to reclaim the House in 2024.
But in a sit-down interview with a group of reporters from outlets including Supercreator on the final morning of the House Democrats’ retreat in Baltimore last Friday, Democratic Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton indicated that she believed DC was being scapegoated for a trend affecting all major cities.
“First thing I would say is don’t pick out the District for crime, when in fact, crime is going up all over the United States. So that’s no reason to oppose a district criminal code,” she said to Supercreator. “And what the District has done is look at the evidence. The evidence showed the district that penalties should be raised on some crimes but not others.”
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