18 Dems vote in favor of GOP-led bill cracking down on DC crime


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A House Republican-led bill aimed at overhauling Washington, D.C.’s criminal policies passed with the support of 18 Democrats Wednesday evening.

It’s a sign that crime in the nation’s capital has been an increasingly urgent issue for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Rep. Byron Donalds’ D.C. Criminal Reform to Immediately Make Everyone Safer (D.C. CRIMES) Act, would impose specific changes targeting how juveniles and young adults are prosecuted.

The bill passed the House by a 225 to 181 vote, with only Democratic lawmakers opposed.

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Donalds and Moskowitz split image

Rep. Byron Donalds’, left, DC crime bill earned the support of several Democrats, including Rep. Jared Moskowitz. (Getty Images)

Democrats who supported the bill include Reps. Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla.; Pat Ryan, D-N.Y.; Henry Cuellar, D-Texas; Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas; Jared Golden, D-Maine; Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio; Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz.; and Angie Craig, D-Minn.; among others.

Donalds, R-Fla., said in a statement after its passage, “Our nation’s capital is experiencing a historic crime wave as a result of progressive, soft-on-crime policy. This man-made public safety crisis is unacceptable. Congress has a constitutional responsibility to oversee the District of Columbia and it is imperative that we act quickly to assert our control when local government fails to do its job. The American people deserve a safe capital city and I will not stand idly-by as it descends into chaos.”

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., similarly blamed Democratic policies for fueling the city’s crime issues.

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Donalds looks on

Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., introduced the DC CRIMES Act, which passed on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“Democrats’ soft-on-crime policies have significantly changed policing across the country – and some of the worst consequences can been seen in our nation’s capital,” Johnson’s statement read. “Congress has a responsibility to act in the interest of the District of Columbia.”

It’s not the first time since the beginning of 2023 that Congress has stepped in to exercise its authority over the capital to crack down on crime.

Last March, both the House and Senate passed a GOP-led resolution overturning the city council’s proposed overhaul of the D.C. criminal code that would have drastically reduced minimum sentences for armed carjackings and expanded the right to jury trials, which critics say would have caused unnecessary delays.

Donalds’ bill would lower the age classifying “youths” from under 25 to under 18. The classification gives D.C. courts more flexibility in issuing sentences for crimes committed.

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Muskowitz

Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla., is one of the 18 Democrats who voted for the bill. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

It would prevent the courts from handing down sentences under the minimum statutory requirements for youth offenders, and stop D.C.’s progressive city council from changing what those requirements are.

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The bill would also require the D.C. attorney general to keep the public better informed on youth and juvenile crime rates by creating a public website where statistics are readily available. 

According to a year-to-date crime comparison provided by the Metropolitan Police Department, homicides in the nation’s capital rose 35% from 2022 to 2023, with the overall rate of violent crime climbing 39%. Robberies increased by 67%, while instances of motor vehicle theft have climbed 82%.



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