Sen. Lee Speaks Against the D.C. Crime Bill

March 8, 2023

Madame President,

Washington, D.C. is our nation’s capital. There’s perhaps no city more capable of demonstrating the idea of the United States as a melting pot than the District of Columbia. Here, you find people from every walk of life. It’s the seat of our federal government, where people from across the country come to work, seek an education, engage with history, and behold our nation’s monuments. Washington, D.C. belongs to all Americans.

Tragically, a visible increase in crime has plagued D.C. It’s backed by numbers, felt by residents, and seen by millions of visitors.

Since March of last year, crime in D.C. is up 25%. Homicides are up 30%, and motor vehicle theft is up 110%.

110% Mr./Madame President.

Despite being in the midst of a crime wave, the D.C. City Council passed a bill that reduced criminal penalties for violent crimes, including homicide, robbery and carjacking.

What message does that send?

It’s such poor logic that Mayor Bowser opposed the bill, admitting that this bill doesn’t make us safer.

She’s right. It doesn’t make us safer. And yet, the D.C. City Council overrode her veto.

When the D.C.City Council is to the left of Mayor Bowser, we have a serious problem. When carjackings are up 110%, this shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

Even President Biden telegraphed in a recent tweet that “I don’t support some of the changes D.C. Council put forward over the Mayor’s objections—such as lowering penalties for carjackings. If the Senate votes to overturn what D.C. Council did—I’ll sign it.”

President Biden is right. Now is not the time to get soft on crime.

And it’s not often that I find myself in the company of President Biden and Mayor Bowser.

We’ve already seen this play out with the campaign to “Defund the Police.” Cities with this disposition quickly discovered that lawlessness begets anarchy. Since the campaign began, crime has skyrocketed, and police resignations have soared. What started as calls for justice culminated in a 25-year high in the national crime rate.

Let’s not make the same mistake twice.

Voting for this Resolution presents an opportunity for my Democratic colleagues to make a distinction. Will you join us in a bipartisan recognition that we cannot endanger the lives of DC residents by allowing this soft-on-crime bill to go into effect? Or will you stand with the D.C City Council and put politics above public safety?

I support Senator Hagerty’s Resolution of Disapproval because the residents and visitors of this city have a reasonable expectation of safety. I encourage my friends across the aisle to support this common-sense Resolution and send a message that the Democratic party is not beholden to its fringes.