Home » Biden reversal to overturn D.C. crime law ignites ongoing statehood debate

Biden reversal to overturn D.C. crime law ignites ongoing statehood debate

by The Grio

President Joe Biden shocked D.C. leaders and activists on Thursday in announcing that he would not veto a bill coming down from Congress that would overturn recently passed laws in D.C. regarding crime and voting.

The decision was a reversal of a previous White House statement that opposed the legislative package led by Republicans – and supported by some Democrats – that would disapprove of the District of Columbia’s revised criminal code and a law that allows noncitizens to vote in local elections.

At conflict is Biden’s record in support of D.C. becoming the nation’s 51st state and his decision not to safeguard D.C. laws that advocates say should not be decided by Congress because of home rule. They argue that the laws were passed by democratically elected D.C. officials and should be honored by lawmakers in Washington. 

“The president and congressional Democrats’ support for eventual #DCStatehood legislation rings hollow if they sacrifice the values that undergird the necessity for it. The people of D.C. demand and deserve better,” Markus Batchelor, national political director at People For the American Way, told theGrio.

Advocates and D.C. officials relied on the president’s veto power to block Congress from overturning the contested D.C. laws. The package, which seems destined to head to Biden’s desk, was already passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, with all Republicans and 42 Democrats voting in favor. Republicans also have enough votes in the U.S. Senate after Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said he would vote to block the D.C. crime law.

Batchelor said the issue of Congress disapproving the D.C. laws is about the fundamental principle of democracy and racial justice, particularly in a city of 700,000 residents who are majority Black and brown.

“President Biden summoned the support of the Congress and a global alliance to defend democracy and the will of…

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