DC’s mayor reacts to council chair’s move repealing crime bill from Congress

Mayor Muriel Bowser didn’t express surprise at D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson’s decision to try and repeal the city’s Revised Criminal Code from Congress, where it failed on its first vote.

Despite that, it’s likely that Congress will hold the Senate vote on the bill, which will probably not fare well in the Republican-controlled caucus.

President Joe Biden has said he will not support the bill, which Bowser vetoed before the council overrode that veto.

“I don’t do it willy nilly. I do it as my charter responsibility to tell the people of the District of Columbia and the Council of the District of Columbia what I need to run this city and above all to keep it safe,” Bowser said of her seven vetos during her eight years in the role.

Bowser did not support the council’s changes to the 100-year-old criminal code in part because she thought it contained two “superfluous” policies and did not go through enough public scrutiny in the hearings process.

“One of them was to allow dangerous murderers and rapists to get out of jail early. You can support that policy. I don’t have a problem with that. But don’t cram it into a bill. We also had something that was opposed by both of our chief judges — to make all of our misdemeanor trials jury demandable. Already at a time where we have too few judges and too few juries,” Bowser said.

A staunch supporter of Home Rule, Bowser said although she opposes the bill, she understands the reality that D.C. lawmakers live in — that the success of the bill also depends on navigating the party in power in Congress, and the president in power.

Megan Cloherty

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

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