The Senate on Tuesday passed a GOP-led effort to overturn the District of Columbia’s new policing bill, the second time this year Congress is sending a measure nixing a D.C. criminal justice reform to President Biden.
Senators voted 56-43 on the resolution of disapproval, which needed 50 votes to pass. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Angus King (I-Maine), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) sided with every Republican in favor of the measure.
The White House has announced it opposes the repeal effort.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) was the lone senator who did not vote.
The D.C. policing bill would cement police accountability measures that were temporarily put in place following the murder of George Floyd in 2020. It passed the D.C. City Council in December. Among other things, the council’s bill bans chokeholds and would increase public access to body camera footage.
The House voted to advance the disapproval resolution 229-189 last month, with 14 Democrats voting with every Republican. Reps. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) and Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.) introduced the resolution.
Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio) led the effort in the Senate for the GOP, saying in a floor speech before the vote that the bill in question makes it more difficult for police officers to do their job. He said the legislation “bans or severely restricts ordinary law enforcement practices,” including using riot gear to disperse violent crowds, and it makes the process more arduous for officers to use lethal force to protect themselves and others.
Vance also added that multiple officers’ organizations oppose the council’s effort.
“It’s why they believe it makes them less safe, and it’s why we have to go in a different direction in this community,” Vance continued. “We should be proud of this incredibly beautiful city. The people sent us here to do a job, and they sent us here to do that job proudly, and it’s hard to do it if we are surrounded by crime and we are surrounded by lawlessness.”
The latest effort to overturn a D.C. criminal justice measure comes months after Biden signed a resolution blocking the D.C. bill that would have lowered sentences for some violent crimes, including carjackings and robberies. The crime bill would have also increased jury trials for misdemeanor offenses.
More than 30 Democrats joined Republicans in the Senate to pass that resolution after Biden, who initially expressed opposition, changed his mind and said he would sign it.
The situation created headaches in the House, though, because the reversal gave Republicans the ability to criticize swing district Democrats who voted with the White House’s initial plan.
Republicans have viewed crime as a political winner, especially as it looks to retake both the White House and the Senate in 2024 after what will be a four-year hiatus.