DC leaders seek statehood, defend criminal code against Congressional Republicans

Before passing a controversial crime bill, D.C.’s council members and criminal justice experts worked for 16 years to craft it. Now, it’s getting pushback from Congressional Republicans, who could block it.

D.C. leaders point to their involvement as yet another reason why the city deserves statehood.

The District’s council overrode a mayoral veto and passed the Revised Criminal Code earlier this year. D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said it’s now the subject of conversation in Congress.

“There’s been some disagreement, not much, but some disagreement on this new criminal code,” Holmes Norton noted during a news conference on a new statehood bill.



Among those in opposition to D.C.’s criminal code is Republican Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, who said in a statement the council “wants to go even easier on criminals which will turn D.C.’s crime crisis into a catastrophe.”

Comer’s office did not provide specifics as to what he opposes in the bill.

“This is another example of why D.C. statehood is so important, because it’s simply wrong to have members of Congress trying to veto and impose their will on the people of the District of Columbia,” said Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen.

Van Hollen is supporting the statehood bill being reintroduced by Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware.

Carper and a group of Senate Democrats are backing the Washington, D.C. Admissions Act to ensure the city’s 700,000 citizens have full representation.

As the last Vietnam veteran serving in Congress, Carper said he takes exception to the 14,000 D.C. residents who are actively serving the U.S. in the military with no vote.

“More than 14,000 D.C. residents are currently serving in the military today and can be sent into battle in a war about which they had no say in fighting,” Carper said.

Last year, legislation for D.C. statehood received a full vote in the House, but failed to move forward. With a divided legislature, Holmes Norton acknowledged it will be hard to push what she calls “critical” legislation forward.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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