EXCLUSIVE: House, Senate GOP To Start ‘DC Home Rule’ Vote To Block District’s New Crime Law

Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Henry Rodgers Chief National Correspondent
Font Size:

Republican Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde and Tennesee Sen. Bill Hagerty will introduce a joint resolution of disapproval to block the Washington, D.C., Council’s Revised Criminal Code Act of 2022, which would lower penalties for a number of violent criminal offenses, according to legislation first obtained by the Daily Caller.

Clyde will introduce the House version Thursday. Hagerty will introduce the Senate companion next week, sources with knowledge confirmed to the Caller.

Congress can exercise authority over D.C. local affairs, according to the District Clause of the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17), and Congress reviews all D.C. legislation before it can become law. Congress can change or even overturn D.C. legislation and can impose new laws on the district.

In Nov. 2022, the D.C. Council approved the Revised Criminal Code Act (RCCA). The RCCA reduces penalties for certain violent criminal offenses, including carjackings, robberies, and homicides. Democratic Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser vetoed the bill on Jan. 4. The council then overrode Bowser’s veto on Jan. 17 by a vote of 12-1.

The bill must go through a 60-day review process in Congress. During this time, each chamber can pass a resolution of disapproval to block the measure. If the bill does receive congressional approval, D.C. would begin phasing in the new criminal code in 2025. The estimated cost is around $50 million.

Clyde and Hagerty will need bipartisan support to stop the crime bill. After passing the House, the resolution would need to receive the support of a simple majority in the Senate and President Joe Biden’s signature.

Violent crime in D.C. surged throughout 2021. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) data shows that the number of homicides increased 19 percent in 2020 and remained constant into 2021, the Washingtonian reported. Carjackings have tripled since 2019.

“The D.C. Council’s radical rewrite of the criminal code threatens the well-being of both Washingtonians and visitors — making our nation’s capital city a safe haven for violent criminals,” Clyde told the Caller. “In response to this dangerous and severely misguided measure, it’s now up to Congress to save our nation’s capital from itself.”

“Our Constitution grants Congress the responsibility and authority to manage Washington’s affairs, which is why we must swiftly pass a resolution of disapproval to stop this insanity in its tracks,” he continued. “I urge Republicans and Democrats in both chambers to join our fight to make Washington safe for all Americans by blocking the D.C. Council’s soft-on-crime bill.”

In March, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to Bowser calling on her to provide them with a plan for how she will address the rampant violent crime in the nation’s capital.

The Caller first obtained the March letter spearheaded by ranking member Rep. James Comer of Kentucky and signed by all Republicans on the committee. In the letter, the lawmakers criticized Bowser and D.C. Democrats for cutting the budget for the MPD. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: House Oversight Republicans Demand Mayor Bowser Provide Plan To Address Rampant Violent Crime In Nation’s Capital)

“All Americans should feel safe in their capital city, but radical left-wing policies have created a crime crisis in the District of Columbia. The D.C. Council wants to go even easier on criminals, which will turn D.C.’s crime crisis into a catastrophe,” Comer told the Caller in reference to Clyde and Hagerty’s resolution. “The D.C. Council and Mayor Bowser’s actions place D.C. on a path of destruction and will be met with strong oversight from Oversight Committee Republicans. As the committee with jurisdiction over the District of Columbia, we will conduct oversight of the disastrous policies that have allowed crime to run rampant in our nation’s capital city. We will use every remedy available to the House to prevent the D.C. Council’s pro-criminal bill from becoming law.”


(DAILY CALLER OBTAINED) — … by Henry Rodgers

“The American public has had enough of the crime wave that’s rolling across our country, including in our nation’s capital,” Hagerty told the Caller. “Congress is tasked with overseeing Washington, D.C. — a federal district where people should be safe to live and work. The District should set a nationwide example by enacting legislation that makes its residents and visitors safer — not less safe. Our resolution makes clear that Congress intends to hold D.C. to this standard.”

Denise Krepp — a former locally elected D.C. official and former Obama Administration political appointee, who served as the Capitol Hill Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC for 6B10) — told the Caller she was frustrated with the D.C. Council’s response to skyrocketing crime.

“Last year, the D.C. Council wrote a law that enables the early release of convicted rapists from prison. I asked Congress to disapprove the bill because rape is an irreversible crime,” she said. “Victims don’t get to rewind the clock and they live with the pain every day. I thank Congress for introducing the disapproval resolution and I respectfully ask that all members support it. Rape isn’t a partisan issue. It’s an act of violence and convicted rapists should be required to serve their full prison sentences.”

In Dec. 2022, Krepp denounced the RCCA in a letter to House leadership, which the Caller obtained:

(DAILY CALLER OBTAINED) — … by Henry Rodgers

Comer and then-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told the Caller in Feb. 2022 that, when the GOP took back the House, they planned to use their power to hold Bowser accountable for implementing destructive policies. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: House Oversight Republicans, Kevin McCarthy Plan November Surprise For DC Mayor Bowser)

McCarthy, who was elected speaker in January, weighed in on Clyde and Hagerty’s joint resolution in a statement to the Caller.

“The D.C. City Council – which recently voted to override the mayor’s veto to impose new soft-on-crime policies that reduce penalties for robberies, carjackings, illegal gun possession, and more – is leaving Congress no choice but to act,” he said. “House Republicans will work through our committees to address the surging violent crime wave in our nation’s capital and across the country. The goal of government at every level must be to ensure that every American is entitled to a safe environment to live, work, and raise a family. The District of Columbia government has clearly failed in that regard.”

A vote on the resolution has not yet been scheduled, but House GOP lawmakers are moving quickly to convince leadership to bring the resolution to a floor vote as soon as possible. The House resolution has 19 original cosponsors: Reps. Rick Allen, Austin Scott and Buddy Carter of Georgia; Brian Babin, Dan Crenshaw, August Pfluger and Keith Self of Texas; Andy Biggs and Debbie Lesko of Arizona, Ben Cline and Bob Good of Virginia, James Comer of Kentucky, Scott Franklin of Florida, Mike Garcia of California, Mark Green of Tennessee, Mike Johnson of Louisiana, Gary Palmer of Alabama, Joe Wilson of South Carolina and Ryan Zinke of Montana.

Bowser’s office did not immediately respond to the Caller’s inquiry about the resolution.