WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) today led members of the Senate Republican Conference in a press conference at the U.S. Capitol to discuss the crime wave rolling across our Nation’s capital, and to implore his colleagues and President Joe Biden to support his resolution of disapproval to block the D.C. City Council’s dangerous and irresponsible Revised Criminal Code Act of 2022 (RCCA) from taking effect.
Hagerty: “Carjackings have increased consecutively five years year over year. In the past three years, the number of carjackings in the District of Columbia has tripled. Homicides— 200 homicides in the past two years. And today, in February, we’re running 20 percent ahead of where we were last year in terms of the number of homicides committed here in the District of Columbia. Sexual abuse is up 82 percent, motor vehicle theft [is] up 96 percent, and property theft, in general, is up 19 percent.
“Violent crime has become an epidemic in this country, and the District of Columbia is no exception to this epidemic. We’re seeing a crime wave here, and Americans from across the country come to visit the District of Columbia. This is a federal district. This is a place where I had, just this morning, 75 of my constituents in to visit. They view the capital of their nation as a place that should be sacrosanct, and a place that should be safe.
“Yet, unbelievably, despite this crime wave that’s underway—[demonstrating] the need to get tougher on crime, obviously— the District of Columbia Council recently passed legislation to reduce penalties for many violent criminal offenses right here in the district, including carjackings, robberies, and even homicides. Primarily, the bill eliminates mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, and it reduces maximum penalties for serious offenses.
“Recognizing that Washington, D.C. citizens and visitors want safer streets, Mayor [Muriel] Bowser actually vetoed this legislation, but the D.C. Council overrode her veto. Reducing penalties for violent crime in the midst of an ongoing crime wave obviously sends the wrong message. It will only serve to embolden criminals who are on a massive spree right here in Washington with carjackings, assaults, and homicides.
“As Mayor Bowser put it in vetoing the bill, ‘This bill does not make us safer.’ I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I’m leading the Senate resolution to block this bill under the D.C. Home Rule Act. In our nation’s capital, Congress has a constitutional obligation to preserve law and order because Americans travel here from all over the country to meet with their federal Representatives. They shouldn’t have to worry about their safety.
“The D.C. Council’s Bill makes our nation’s capital less safe for residents, for employees, and people that would visit us here from around the country and from around the world. Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress is responsible for governing the District of Columbia. Some of that authority has been delegated to the D.C. Government, but Congress retains the authority to review and to take action on D.C. laws.
“This resolution passed with significant bipartisan support in the House [of Representatives]. In fact, every Republican and 31 Democrats voted to support this bill in the House of Representatives. The 31st Democrat actually had been mugged in her apartment that morning before coming over to cast the 31st vote in favor of this resolution.
“I implore my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join this effort. Let’s send our resolution of disapproval to President [Joe] Biden’s desk. I can’t believe that President Biden wants to encourage more crime here in the District of Columbia. Combating crime should not be a Republican or a Democrat issue— it should be a commonsense issue, a bipartisan issue. Thank you.”