US Senate votes to repeal DC police reform bill

The U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to repeal a D.C. police reform bill, shortly after a House hearing during which Republicans pressed Mayor Muriel Bowser about the District’s rising crime problem.

The legislative action reflects continuing scrutiny of D.C. and GOP congressional concerns that the District is too soft on crime.

The Senate vote was 56-43 on the police reform bill, and included support from several Democrats.

President Biden has said he will veto the bill, which already passed the House.

The police reform bill was passed on an emergency basis by the D.C. Council in the wake of the death of George Floyd in 2020, in Minnesota.

It was made permanent last December and bans the use of chokeholds by police officers. It would also limit the bargaining power of the police union and seeks to provide more transparency in connection with police discipline.

Before the Senate vote, the Republican-led House Oversight Committee held a separate hearing on D.C. crime, public safety and the city’s overall management.

“Washington, D.C., clearly has a crime crisis,” Rep. James Comer, the GOP chair of the committee, said as he kicked off the hearing.

As he did during a previous hearing on D.C. crime, Comer ticked off several statistics, noting that more than half of the city’s soaring number of carjackings are being carried out by juveniles.

Unlike at the earlier hearing of the committee, the mayor testified on Tuesday.

Bowser acknowledged that the city is dealing with a lot of challenging issues related to crime, including illegal gun use, repeat offenders and stolen cars.

But she defended her new proposals to address crime and denied that her administration is just accepting the situation as a “new normal.”

“No one can be satisfied with increasing crime trends in any category,” she said. “I certainly am not.”

Republican lawmakers repeatedly pressed her on D.C.’s crime statistics, suggesting the District isn’t doing enough.

Bowser appeared before the committee, along with D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee, U.S. Attorney for D.C. Matthew Graves and City Administrator Kevin Donahue.

Congress earlier this year blocked the D.C. Council’s bill rewriting the D.C. criminal code, amid concerns it lightened penalties for several crimes.

President Biden did not veto the legislation rescinding the measure.

The mayor is now trying to work with the council to come up with new legislation.

Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller has worked at WTOP since 1996, as a producer, editor, reporter and Senior News Director. After working "behind the scenes," coordinating coverage and reporter coverage for years, Mitchell moved back to his first love -- reporting. He is now WTOP's Capitol Hill reporter.

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