The Senate approved a resolution to overturn a slew of local police reforms in Washington, D.C., escalating tensions between Congress and city lawmakers over the district’s limited legislative autonomy.
The Senate voted in favor of overriding the local laws on Tuesday with a 56-43 vote, with eight senators who caucus with the Democrats joining all Republicans in backing the measure. The passage of the disapproval resolution marks only the second time in 30 years that Congress has repealed a local law passed by the D.C. Council.
The vote comes after Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) revived the bill on Tuesday morning by filing a discharge petition that allowed the Senate to place the resolution on the floor for immediate consideration.
Through that maneuver, Republicans only needed a simple majority to pass the bill, which they secured after Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (WV), Jon Tester (MT), Maggie Hassan (NH), Jacky Rosen (NV), Catherine Cortez Masto (NV), and Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and independents Angus King (ME) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) voted in favor.
“Today’s vote is a victory for the safety and security of every American who visits our nation’s capital. It is also a strong statement in support of the hardworking men and women of DC’s Metropolitan Police Department,” Vance said. “With this vote, Congress has sent President Biden a clear and bipartisan message: the American people have rejected the radical left and they want to see law and order in Washington.”
The resolution seeks to repeal laws passed by the D.C. Council in December to reform the Metropolitan Police Department and the district’s justice system in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of law enforcement in 2020. Several of those reforms focused on prohibiting the use of neck restraints, increasing access to body camera footage, and revising officer discipline procedures.
The House passed the disapproval resolution in late April, sending the legislation to the Senate for a vote where it was largely stalled due to a lack of support among the Democratic majority. However, Vance pushed to advance the measure on Tuesday, putting Democrats in a bind as they were once again faced with the choice to defend the district’s independence or to crack down on high crime rates.
“Congress must exert our constitutional authority to keep our nation’s capital safe,” Vance said on Tuesday. “It’s a disgrace that the capital of the most powerful nation on Earth has become so dangerous, but this sad reality is exactly what we should expect when far-left activists are calling the shots. For the good of every American who lives in or visits this town, I urge my colleagues to support my disapproval motion.”
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