(CNSNews.com) - The White House on Friday defended President Biden’s decision not to veto a Republican attempt to block parts of a D.C. crime bill, despite pushback from the left on sovereignty issues.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre pointed out that even if the president blocked the GOP measure, it would not make D.C. a state, which Biden supports.
Furthermore, the bill reduced maximum sentencing for crimes like armed robbery, armed home invasion, armed carjacking, and certain sexual assaults among other things.
When asked whether the president gave House Democrats a heads up about his decision on the matter, Jean-Pierre said, “So first let me just say that the White House notified the members at the House retreat as you know that was earlier this week or is still happening in Baltimore. So that’s number one.
“Number two, I do want to lay out that the president and the administration has a very close relationship with House Democrats and Senate Democrats as well. We have worked together,” the press secretary said.
“The president has worked very well with the members on delivering bold historic pieces of legislation in his first two years of the administration and is very proud of the relationship that he has with them, and our teams are constantly in communication with them, and so I’ll leave that there. This is a very strong important relationship for all of us here including the president,” she said.
“I also want to state that look, the president supports D.C. statehood,” Jean-Pierre said. She referenced the SAP, which stands for Statements of Administration policy.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) uses SAP to communicate the administration’s position on certain legislation on the House and Senate floor.
“That is something that you saw in his SAP for this particular D.C. crime bill, and if Congress sends him a bill making D.C. a state, he’ll always, always be sure to sign it, because he’s been talking about that for the last two decades, but vetoing the bill heading to his desk now won’t make D.C. a state, and so those are the things that the president has been really clear about when it comes to D.C. and their statehood, and so I’ll leave it there,” the press secretary said.
“But as it relates to the House, as it relates to Senate Democrats, it is a very important relationship for us, and clearly, very important, and with the Democratic Caucus as you know when he met with them yesterday, he provided what he was going to do and made it very clear to them and they had that discussion,” Jean-Pierre said.
REPORTER: Biden and the Democrats have talked a lot about the need to stem rising crime but also the need to reform a criminal justice system that’s still disproportionately affects black Americans so why not engage in some sort of compromise or why not let the D.C. bill - because you know the mayor vetoed the criminal code, but she also proposed some changes that would make the system better as a whole?
The press secretary responded by detailing what crimes would have penalties reduced in the D.C. crime bill, which D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser opposes.
JEAN-PIERRE: Just want to be very clear here, and if you look at the D.C. bill itself, and I know that there was a little bit of - I was asked a couple of questions of what else does it do besides carjacking, and I don’t normally go line by line on legislation, especially legislation that we haven’t introduced, but I did talk to the team, and we have a couple of things that I just want to lay out for all of you on what the D.C. bill does.
It reduces maximum penalties for offenses like murders and other homicides, armed home invasion burglaries, armed carjackings as I mentioned, armed robberies, unlawful gun possession, and some sexual assault offenses, and so look, the president has been very clear. We need to do more to reduce crime, to make communities safer, to save lives, and that’s why he put together– he put forth his Safer America plan that does just that, that we believe does exactly that.
So the way that we see this bill it doesn’t actually reform policing practices, That’s not something it does, reform like the ones the president has put forward at the federal level. You know about the executive order when it couldn’t be done on the Senate side moving forward with police reform.
The president put forth a historic piece of executive order to try to do what we can at the federal level, and so we believe that this bill does not actually do that.