WASHINGTON, D.C. – Residents of the nation’s capital told Fox News their locally elected officials and community members should get to decide the city’s laws as the U.S. Senate prepared to block the district’s overhaul of its criminal code.
“D.C., like any city, has some problems,” Karen told Fox News. “But let us decide how best to solve the problems.”
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The city council had overrode the mayor’s veto of local legislation it passed that would have reduced penalties for certain crimes, like burglaries, robberies and carjackings. Washington residents rallied Wednesday to support statehood for the district ahead of the Senate vote, which ultimately passed 81-14 to block the city’s new criminal code.
“There’s crime here like there’s everywhere,” Judith said. “The citizens of the district … collectively with our elected officials would keep the city safe.”
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The nation’s capital, like many U.S. cities, has grappled with a crime surge in recent years. Homicides are up 32% year-to-date, and motor vehicle thefts have more than doubled, according to Metropolitan Police Department data. While overall crime decreased between 2021 and 2022, certain offenses remained high around the district.
“We know the solutions and we can implement them,” Pranav said. “Our local officials in D.C. who we actually voted for have listened to that.”
Pranav, who supported the legislation, said locally elected officials spent years crafting the criminal code and escalated some gun-related charges. He added that harsher sentences doesn’t always deter crime.
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“People who have been community leaders, community members have been talking about what keeps D.C. safe for decades,” he said. “So we should be able to keep ourselves safe.”
Karen told Fox News that D.C. residents were “outraged” at Congress for getting involved in the city’s home-rule. The district doesn’t have any representatives in either chamber that can vote.
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Under the Constitution, Congress holds jurisdiction over the District of Columbia. But Congress hasn’t overruled a district law in decades.
“You got people from other states voting on what goes on in D.C. and they’re not from D.C.,” a lifelong resident told Fox News. “They don’t know the fabric of D.C. and they’re making decisions that are going to affect D.C. residents.”
Additionally, Biden said he would not veto the measure if it reached his desk. Biden has supported D.C. statehood and generally objected to Congress overturning local laws but he tweeted that he couldn’t endorse parts of the crime bill.
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“There are things that President Biden disagrees with in probably every single state,” Pranav said. “But they get to govern themselves. They get to have their elected officials speak for them, and they get to make changes if they desire to.”
“D.C. should be treated exactly the same,” he told Fox News. “Supporting D.C. statehood means supporting the residents to govern how we see fit.”
To hear more from D.C. residents, click here.
Fox News’ Bradford Betz and the Associated Press contributed to this report.