The D.C. City Council president has written to Vice President Kamala Harris to withdraw legislation to change the city’s penal code, which was about to face a rebuke from the U.S. Senate.
The sudden move came as more and more Democrats followed President Joe Biden’s lead after he signaled he would sign a Republican bill to block the measure — even as his administration grew irate for violating its own admonitions about protecting home government in the city.
But there were indications that the last-ditch effort was likely to be fruitless, and may have been intended as an opportunity to try to change the look of the situation – while the vote continues anyway.
“Not only does the statute not allow withdrawal of a broadcast, but at this time the Republican Senate’s privileged motion will act on the House’s censure resolution, rather than the broadcast from the D.C. Council to the Senate,” a aide to the Senate leadership, who told DailyMail.com: “We still expect the vote to take place.”
President Joe Biden said he would sign a bill that would block amendments to a D.C. City Council bill to Washington’s criminal code. The council president wrote to VP Kamala Harris that he was withdrawing his transfer of the bill to the Senate, trying to avoid a vote on it that his side was likely to lose.
President of the Washington DC Council, Phil Mendelson wrote Vice President Kamala Harris in her position as Senate President to notify her of his decision, though it was not immediately clear that it is within her authority to make such a decision. The Home Rule Act for DC provides for congressional control of local laws.
“I forwarded bills and I reversed this bill,” Mendelson told local reporters. His letter stated that the effect was to “disregard this bill from Congress.” Mendelson said the Council, which supported the combined amendments to the penal code over the objections of Mayor Muriel Bowser, would amend the law and later submit it to Congress.
It was not immediately clear what effect the move would have. Republicans eagerly awaited the opportunity to use the Senate vote to expose a rift among Democrats — likely to win a victory in the chamber and then see Biden sign legislation that divided his coalition. Knowing Biden’s stance, the move would pass by a comfortable margin, perhaps with a veto-proof majority.
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson announced Monday that he has withdrawn a controversial criminal code bill, in an effort to avoid a Senate vote on it
Columbia District Mayor Muriel Bowser vetoed the changes, but the council overruled her
Mendelson wrote to Vice President Harris in her role as Senate President. While it was not clear she had the ability to stop a vote, which an aide to the leadership said was a privileged motion to follow up on a vote that had already taken place in the House
A spokeswoman for Mendelson said that “we expect them to still vote, but we consider it nothing more than a token vote,” and that the law requires the city to present bills to the Senate President and the House Majority Leader .
Medelson said: “More and more Democrats in the Senate have said that either they have not taken a position, which is never a good sign, or they would support the override. When the president said he wouldn’t veto, to me that means more senators would probably join.”
His comments came after Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a member of her party’s leadership and not one associated with the party’s moderate faction, indicated she would support the move to overturn the bill. That indicated the measure could pass by a comfortable margin, which could ease some pressure on Biden to sign it.
Congress can do this under the Constitution, which grants stewardship of the federal city.
“Maybe it’s optics, but it’s also within optics the ability to find a path forward,” Mendelson said, arguing that changes are still needed in the city’s code.
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’
“Our options are better if we foot the bill, and if the Republicans choose to continue with a hollow vote, that’s their choice,” he said.
On Friday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was put on the defensive amid House Democratic anger over why the administration said it opposed the measure on the grounds of self-government for the city, only to have Biden to say that he would sign it when it reached his desk.
“This is about next year’s campaign,” Mendelson said. “That’s what it’s about, it’s about making videos that so-and-so Senator voted to soften crime in the District of Columbia.”
“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’
Her comment came after some House Democrats were outraged after Biden announced he would sign the resolution after many of them voted against it.
Hakeem Jeffries, leader of the House Minority, told CNN on Sunday that he planned to talk to Biden about it privately.