WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden told Senate Democrats at a closed-door luncheon Thursday that he will not veto a measure designed to undo changes to DC criminal law, four sources with direct knowledge told NBC News.
The House voted last month to pass a resolution that would block revisions to the DC penal code recently passed by the DC Council. It is also expected to pass the Senate next week, raising a question for Biden whether to sign or veto it.
The measure to override the DC Council has the support of Republicans and some Democrats. Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., has indicated that he would support the measure. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said he would «probably support it» as well, making it more likely to pass.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer confirmed Thursday after Biden’s lunch with Senate Democrats that the president told members «he would not veto the DC crime bill if he got the amount of necessary votes” to be approved by Congress.
Biden also told Democrats that he supports legislation by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, to bolster rail security following the train derailment in eastern Palestine, Schumer said.
Biden addressed a number of topics over lunch, Schumer said. “She talked about giving insulin to everyone, not just the elderly, in the next year. She talked about the budget and doubled down: no hostage-taking, [Republicans] you should show us your budget. And keeping Medicaid, just as important as keeping Medicare,” Schumer said. “And he talked about getting a real bill: a bill for child online protection technology.”
The White House opposes the House resolution to strike down DC Council changes to the city’s penal code, but previously stopped short of saying Biden would veto it if it was sent to his desk. A White House official confirmed Thursday that Biden will not veto it, and Biden tweeted that he will sign the legislation, despite his support for DC autonomy.
«I support DC statehood and home rule, but I don’t support some of the changes the DC Council introduced over the mayor’s objections, like lowering penalties for vehicle theft,» Biden wrote. «If the Senate votes to overturn what the DC Council did, I’ll sign it.»
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser opposed the changes approved by the city council, but her veto was overridden. Still, she has called on Congress not to intrude on the district’s sovereignty.
The DC Council voted late last year to reform the city’s penal code for the first time in 100 years, NBC4 Washington reported. The bill would have made sweeping changes to the way DC deals with crime, including eliminating most mandatory minimum sentences and reducing mandatory maximum sentences, according to NBC4But Bowser vetoed the measure in January, saying it wouldn’t make the nation’s capital any safer.
City Hall overrode his vetosending the bill to Congress, which has the power to revise legislation passed by the city.