White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was forced to respond to fierce criticism from within the Democratic tent over how President Biden got behind a Republican proposal to block changes to DC’s penal code after he passed it several weeks ago. torn on the grounds of self-government.
Her attempt to explain Biden’s stance — he said he would sign the measure if approved by the Senate — came after Democrats in the House protested both the turnaround and mixed signals. She was questioned repeatedly about the government’s official policy statement on the Republican resolution that would block the new D.C. bill.
“One thing the president believes in is making sure the streets of America and communities across the country are safe,” said Jean-Pierre. ‘That includes direct current’
He was against it rather than for it: White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre explained why President Biden would sign a Republican bill blocking changes to DC’s penal code, despite a White House policy statement that he against a resolution that does that.
Indeed, the Statement of Administration Policy, known as a SAP, opposed the resolution, arguing on state and governance grounds — without taking a position on the content of the DC bill that would destroy the Republican-led House .
“Even earlier this week, many of you asked me… which way the president would go. He never made that clear in that SAP. And I think as it got — we always let the trial and Congress go ahead,” she said.
“As it now looks like it was coming to his desk, we wanted to communicate where we were going,” she said.
She also took some shots at the DC bill, as Biden did on Thursday, saying it “doesn’t really reshape policing practices.” That’s not something it’s doing, reforms like the ones the president has proposed at the federal level,” she said.
If Biden chose to cast one, a veto would require a two-thirds majority in each chamber — though it could open Biden up to Republican accusations that he is soft on crime.
Jean-Pierre’s explanation — Biden supports statehood for DC, which has 700,000 residents but is not fully represented in Congress — came as some House Democrats boil over at President Joe Biden’s announcement.
Biden announced the change Thursday after meeting with Senate Democrats where he was asked about it. He cited a policy dispute between DC’s Mayor Muriel Bowser and the City Council.
But that hasn’t satisfied some members of his own party, who are accustomed to Republicans trying to overthrow local policy decisions, but who have counted on Democratic commitments to advance D.C.’s statehood and protect local decision-making authority.
“The White House f***** this up royally,” a House Democrat said Hill newspaper. The lawmaker told party leaders that Biden was willing to veto the censure resolution — which likely would have stopped the move.
D.C. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton denounced Biden’s decision to essentially allow Congress to nullify the city’s laws for the first time in more than three decades
The OMB’s policy statement tore up the resolution, saying: ‘This taxation without representation and denial of self-government is an affront to the democratic values upon which our nation is founded’
Early last month, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued a policy statement opposing the move as a “denial of self-government.”
But with Democrats on the defensive on crime issues, amid poor polling and the defeat of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a primary where crime was an issue, Biden chose not to be associated with a measure that would suspend some criminal penalties. weaken.
“So many of us who are allies voted against supporting what the White House wanted. And now we are being hung to dry,” the legislator continued, “the legislator vented via text message. ‘F****** AMATEUR HOURS. HEADS SHOULD ROLL OVER THIS WHITE HOUSE.”
Also bashing the turnaround was progressive ‘squad’ member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
‘This isn’t it. DC has the right to govern itself just like any other state or municipality. If the president supports a state in DC, that’s how he should govern,” she wrote in a rebuke.
Many places pass laws that the president may not agree with. He should respect the people’s government of Washington as he does elsewhere,” she said added.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser vetoed the changes to the Penal Code, but this was overruled by the City Council
‘This isn’t it. DC has the right to govern itself just like any other state or municipality. If the president supports the state of D.C., that’s how he should govern,” wrote Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in a reprimand
Biden’s decision to break with his party and the city on its own comes amid growing crime concerns
Some Democratic House lawmakers were outraged after President Joe Biden announced he would sign a GOP-backed bill that would override a revised D.C. penal code. Democratic lawmakers say the move violates house rules principles — noting that the White House opposed the bill when it was debated in the House
Many lawmakers suddenly learned about the turnaround. A Senate bill to help move the move forward could come next week.
“I support DC Statehood and self-government — but I don’t support some of the changes DC Council has put forward over the mayor’s objections — such as lowering carjacking penalties,” Biden tweeted.
“If the Senate votes to reverse what the DC Council did, I will sign it,” Biden wrote.
Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) called the turnaround “disappointing.”
“It’s disappointing for me and for anyone who believes in self-government, frankly. I’m a former mayor of a city of 70,000 and I wouldn’t want the federal government telling me what city ordinances to pass. … So in that context I find it disappointing.’
It’s smart politics. He ran into a circular saw,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C., told reporters Thursday. “You don’t want the DC mayor’s left.”
Said DC’s Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, who learned about the change after it broke down at a press conference, “This is news to me and I’m very disappointed if he doesn’t veto it.”
She told the Washington Post: ‘I hope he keeps saying he will oppose it.’
Biden also irked fans of the state when it was reported that his presidential limousine, known as “the Beast,” does not carry the city’s “Taxation without Representation” logo.
The OMB’s Policy Statement stated, “For far too long, the more than 700,000 residents of Washington, D.C. have not had full representation in the United States Congress. This taxation without representation and denial of self-government is an affront to the democratic values on which our nation is founded.”
“As we work to make Washington, D.C. the 51st state of our Union, Congress must respect the autonomy of the District of Columbia to manage its own local affairs,” the OMB said.
There had been a clash within DC’s Democratic-dominated government.
The city council approved changes last year that remove some mandatory minimum sentences and lower the maximum sentences for theft and burglary.
Bowser vetoed the plan, but the council overruled her veto.