Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized President Biden’s handling of a GOP-led resolution that would have overturned parts of the District of Columbia criminal code.
“If he was going to do it, I wish he would have told us first, because it’s a tough vote for members of the House,” Pelosi said Friday at a University of Chicago event after being asked if she agreed with Biden on the bill. “And it’s a tough vote for members of the Senate. The mayor of the District of Columbia is even different from the legislators who passed it, so it’s unclear.
“I am a huge supporter of statehood for the District of Columbia. I voted in the District of Columbia,” said Pelosi, who rarely struck a critical tone with the president. “I understand why some people voted against it. But if the president is going to do it, hey, can we interfere in the House, too?”
Biden met with the Senate Democratic Caucus on Thursday and expressed his intention not to sign the resolution. That prompted criticism from House Democrats, who said they were blindsided by the news.
“The White House f—- it’s royal,” one House Democrat told The Hill via text message, after the White House previously issued a statement of administration policy opposing the resolution and supporting DC, and House Democratic leader Biden told lawmakers. was prepared to veto the measure.
In all, 173 House Democrats voted against the resolution, but Biden’s decision was a huge political victory for Republicans. Meanwhile, Democrats’ disapproval highlights divisions within the party — trying to fight off attacks that they are too soft on crime.
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre defended Biden’s decision and his communication on Friday, saying he told House Democrats on Wednesday during their annual issues retreat in Baltimore, the day before the president announced he would not veto the measure.
Meanwhile, liberals are outraged by Biden’s decision, which they see as a disregard for city autonomy. Biden has voiced support for statehood, but many on the left see the move as working against the DC City Council’s governing abilities.
The criminal law would eliminate most mandatory sentences, reduce sentences for many violent crimes — including car thefts and robberies — and expand the requirement for jury trials in most misdemeanor cases.
The bill passed the City Council unanimously in January. After Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) vetoed it, the City Council defeated it 12-1.
The GOP-controlled House passed the legislation with the support of 31 Democrats. Despite the Democratic majority in the upper house, it is likely to pass the Senate with bipartisan support in a vote early next week.
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