Ohio Sen. JD Vance (R) will force the Senate to vote Tuesday on a resolution to overturn the District of Columbia’s police accountability law, which Republican lawmakers say has contributed to rising crime in the nation’s capital.
The vote follows a successful effort by Senate and House Republicans in March to overturn a new D.C. sentencing reform law that would have reduced the maximum sentences for some crimes such as carjacking and robbery.
President Biden signed the resolution blocking the implementation of that law even though his administration had previously expressed opposition to it.
Now Republicans are setting their sights on D.C.’s new police accountability law, which extends policing reforms enacted temporarily after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
It bans chokeholds, discourages aggressive police pursuits, requires police to use de-escalation and makes body camera footage more available to the public.
“Congress must exert our constitutional authority to keep our nation’s capital safe,” Vance said in a statement. “It’s a disgrace that the capital of the most powerful nation on earth has become so dangerous, but this sad reality is exactly what we should expect when far-left activists are calling the shots. For the good of every American who lives in or visits this town, I urge my colleagues to support my disapproval motion.”
Vance told reporters Monday that he hadn’t yet spoken to any Democratic colleagues but hopes to pick up bipartisan support.
All Senate Republicans are expected to vote for the resolution once Vance moves to discharge it from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
“I understand a lot of Democrats have concerns about the criminal justice system but what D.C. has done has increasingly gone in a direction that has alienated a number of Democrats,” Vance said, noting that the bill to overturn D.C.’s criminal sentencing reform law passed by a vote of 81 to 14.
“I think you’ll see it with our vote too,” he said, predicting a crossover of Democratic votes. “I’ve heard a lot of quiet concern with what D.C. is doing and I think that will manifest itself in some votes.”
The D.C. Police Union has endorsed the disapproval resolution, which passed the House last month by a vote of 229 to 189.
Crime has risen in the District in the past year.
Homicides have risen by 9 percent compared to the same point in 2022. Car thefts are up by more than 100 percent.
Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) said on the Senate floor Tuesday that “the city’s crime crisis” has hit a “fever pitch.”
“Our nation’s capital had 223 homicides. Car jackings have tripled. This year, so far violent crime is up by double digits,” he said.
Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) noted “there were Democrat votes earlier when we had the DC [crime] bill on the floor earlier.”