DC Criminal Code

Floor Speech

Date: March 7, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BOOZMAN. Mr. President, I rise today to discuss the staggering crime problem plaguing the Nation's Capital and an outrageous attempt to unleash even more of it on residents and visitors alike.

The DC City Council unanimously voted last year to substantially weaken its criminal code, including by eliminating life sentences and most mandatory minimums for any crime but first-degree murder.

It is also lowering maximum penalties for some violent offenses like carjacking and robberies. These so-called reforms weren't just opposed by Republicans; they were even a bridge too far for the District's Democratic Mayor who vetoed the legislation, only to see that overruled by the City Council by a 12 to 1 margin.

DC is experiencing a wave of the very crimes this proposal is going soft on. There have been 99 carjackings so far this year. Thirty-eight homicides have occurred in 2023, and 203 murders took place in the city last year--the second consecutive year its total surpassed 200.

This preposterous answer to DC's public safety crisis was also rejected by the Washington Post editorial board, which said the city could become more dangerous while even further tying the hands of police and prosecutors if this effort were to succeed.

Let's be clear, only in an overwhelmingly liberal city, with years of support from liberal lawmakers at the Federal level, would something like this ill-conceived crime spree incentive be possible. It is just bad policy. It is also unbelievably insensitive and disrespectful to victims on the receiving end of heinous and violent crimes.

There is no justice in downplaying crime. There also can be no pretense of keeping the public safe and upholding the law and order when leaders refuse to demand true accountability from those who brazenly break the law.

How should these victims react to these senseless proposals that delegitimize their suffering and the consequences that they will provoke?

Unlike our Democratic colleagues, Republicans won't make excuses for criminals, and we won't sit back and allow far-left ideology to gut the criminal justice system of civility to deter and punish unlawful, violent behavior.

For too long, our friends on the other side of the aisle have used, frankly, irresponsible rhetoric about crime and policing that would inevitably lead to ideas as bad as this or worse. From ``defund the police'' to ``reimagining justice,'' there has been no shortage of liberal slogans and agendas to undermine the rule of law and minimize crime's societal impacts.

Democrats in Washington, including President Biden, have only poured fuel to the fire. Many have openly embraced these absurd concepts, including the 173 House Democrats who refused to overturn the DC Council and stand up on the side of common sense.

Let's not forget the ultimate irony in all of this, which is the fact that for the last 2 years, Democrats were demanding the Senate abolish the legislative filibuster in order to ram through party-line votes on incredibly bad policies, including DC statehood.

It seems that, for Democrats, giving the District complete autonomy over its affairs is a useful political talking point, until it isn't. If that doesn't undermine just how bad faith the push to wreck the Senate was, I really don't know what will; and I am so grateful a few of our colleagues on the other side had the courage to reject it.

So, Mr. President, I am pleased to hear that my colleagues and the President--and apparently even the DC City Council--seem willing to draw the line here. Thank goodness.

The question of how long it will last or if they have really learned a time-tested lesson is still quite open. For the Nation's Capital and our entire country, I hope this outbreak of sanity and appreciation of law and order is long lasting.

I thank Senator Hagerty for leading the charge. He has done a tremendous job, and I think it made a real difference.