Sen. Joe Manchin backs effort to rescind D.C. crime overhaul
Sen. Joe Manchin III says he wants to rescind a D.C. crime overhaul that would weaken penalties for some offenses, raising the likelihood that a disapproval resolution will get through Congress and reach President Biden.
Mr. Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, told CNN he supports the GOP resolution. The issue is a delicate one for Democrats, who are often accused of being soft on crime but tend to defend the District from GOP meddling in local affairs.
“I don’t support it. I mean, I want to put people away, I don’t want to let them out,” Mr. Manchin said of the local crime overhaul. “I haven’t been briefed on it, but what I know about it, I would vote to rescind it.”
The Constitution allows Congress to have the final say over D.C. legislation during a review period.
Efforts to block the D.C. crime overhaul passed the GOP-led House with support from more than 30 Democrats. Democrats have a 51-49 majority in the Senate and are contending with the absence of Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, who sought treatment for depression.
The crime overhaul also split local leaders. The D.C. Council overrode Mayor Muriel Bowser, who vetoed the bill over concerns it would weaken too many penalties amid concerns about crime in the capital.
Republican lawmakers told CNN they are aware of how sensitive the crime issue is for Democrats, especially red-state centrists who are wary of being attached to the defund-the-police movement.
“My expectation is that some Democrats here in the Senate would vote for it. Then it would be up to Biden about what he wants to do,” Sen. John Thune, South Dakota Republican, told CNN.
The White House released a statement earlier this month saying it opposes the measure, though it did not explicitly threaten a veto.
“While we work towards making Washington, D.C., the 51st state of our Union, Congress should respect the District of Columbia’s autonomy to govern its own local affairs,” the statement of administration policy said.
Resolutions that disapprove of D.C. actions rarely succeed. However, Republicans have been able to block local efforts to fund abortions or set up legal marijuana sales by attaching the provisions to must-pass bills.