In a closed-door meeting with lawmakers, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Pamela Smith provided a “productive” briefing on the surge in crime in the nation’s capital. The House Oversight Committee Chairman, James Comer (R-KY), was not shy about pointing fingers and laying the blame for the crime wave square at the feet of the D.C. Council and U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves. He labeled their actions “soft-on-crime” and claimed that their failure is directly responsible for the lack of safety on the streets of Washington, D.C.
Comer made it clear that the crime statistics are nothing short of shocking, with homicides, property crime, and carjackings reaching unprecedented highs. He hammered home the idea that “soft-on-crime measures have only made the situation worse,” taking a swing at the D.C. Council’s crime bill that aimed to soften penalties for serious offenses. It’s no secret that the council’s attempt to ease punishments for offenders was met with staunch resistance from Congress, which stepped in and put the kibosh on the bill, with bipartisan support and a seal of approval from President Joe Biden.
The Republican camp is not about to sit idly by while Washington, D.C. grapples with soaring crime rates. Comer pledged to continue working diligently to secure the safety and prosperity of all citizens in the nation’s capital. He emphasized that the House Oversight Committee remains committed to its constitutional duty to oversee the goings-on in Washington, D.C., and is exploring steps that Congress can take to restore law and order to the district.
Earlier this year, Congress took the unusual step of blocking the D.C. Council’s crime bill, which sought to relax penalties for serious criminal acts. The move highlighted the widespread disapproval of the soft-on-crime approach taken by the council. With crime rates climbing, there is a palpable sense of urgency to address the situation. The Metropolitan Police Department reported that violent crime in Washington has surged by a startling 40% this year compared to last, with overall crime rising by 27% when compared to the same period last year.
The briefing may have been behind closed doors, but the message sent by the Republican side is loud and clear: the blame for the crime crisis in D.C. rests squarely on the shoulders of the council and the U.S. Attorney. The pushback from Congress against leniency in criminal justice measures underscores the deep divide over how to tackle the crime surge. The battle lines are drawn as the fight for the safety and security of Washington, D.C. rages on.