(CNN) The Senate on Wednesday passed a Republican-led resolution that would end a controversial Washington, D.C., law that opponents criticized as weak on crime. The move will go to President Joe Biden next. He said he would not veto it.
The effort to block the crime bill highlights the difficult balance the party is trying to strike, with Democrats divided and Republicans accused of failing to tackle the crime problem.
While a large number of Democrats ultimately supported the resolution, Biden’s announcement He will not veto it His party members were surprised and upset as many believed that the Congress should not interfere in the political affairs of the district.
Democrats control a narrow 51-to-49 majority in the Senate, where most laws need at least 60 votes to pass a filibuster. A resolution of disapproval to block the DC crime bill required only a simple majority vote in the Senate. Both parties were outnumbered 81-14 in the final vote.
DC Council Chairman Tried to withdraw the law The decertification resolution is on track to pass the Senate with broad support from congressional review. But that effort’s withdrawal didn’t stop the Senate vote from moving forward.
The vote marked the latest attempt by Republicans to put vulnerable Senate Democrats in their place and expose divisions within the party on politically charged issues.
Earlier this month, the Senate passed a resolution Change the Biden administration’s pension investment rule Republicans say it will impose a liberal agenda on Americans and hurt retirees’ bottom lines. Democrats have objected, saying it’s not about ideology and would help investors, and the administration has said the president would veto the measure.
Legislative struggle exposes democratic divisions
Biden’s announcement that he would not veto an effort to block the DC crime bill caught many congressional Democrats off guard — and came after the administration released a statement earlier.It opposed the resolution of denial. “Congress shall respect the autonomy of the District of Columbia to govern its own local affairs,” the statement said.
House Resolution passed Prior to Biden’s veto announcement in February, 173 Democrats voted against. At the time, the understanding among Democrats was that Biden opposed the bill — in no small part because a White House statement said he opposed it.
In an apparent attempt to outline his rationale, Biden Tweeted In early March, he said, “I support DC statehood and home-rule — but I don’t support some of the changes the DC Council has proposed over the mayor’s objections — like lowering fines for carjackings. If the Senate votes what the DC Council did — I’ll sign it.”
Controversial Criminal Law Initially vetoed by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, Bowser said in a statement at the time that the bill “doesn’t make us safer.” In a letter to DC Council President Bowser expressed concern “Council significantly reduced fines for robberies, car thefts and home invasion thefts.”
However, the council Voted to override the mayor’s veto. “Decades of dramatic increases in incarceration have not been a solution to rising crime,” the council said in a release overriding the veto.
Some Democrats argue that the public debate over the crime bill lacks nuance, pointing to the counter-policies of the “weak on crime” messaging surrounding the bill.
“The debate over the DC crime bill has gone a little off the rails. It cuts car theft to a maximum of 24 years, but it’s in line with many states. And the bill increases penalties for attempted murder, attempted rape, misdemeanor and sexual assault. Many other crimes,” Democratic Senate. Chris Murphy Tweeted Earlier this week.
Republicans, meanwhile, have called the DC crime bill dangerous and irresponsible.
“Congress is tasked with overseeing Washington, D.C.—a federal district where people can live and work safely. The District should set a nationwide example by passing legislation that makes its residents and visitors safer. Hagerty of Tennessee, the resolution’s lead sponsor in the Senate, said in a statement.
This story and topic have been updated with additional improvements.
CNN’s Manu Raju and Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.