Republican Senators Move to Block D.C.'s Anti-Cop Law

'Congress must exert our constitutional authority to keep our nation’s capital safe,' says Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance

Sen. J.D. Vance (Win McNamee/Getty Images).
May 11, 2023

Republican senator J.D. Vance on Thursday will introduce legislation to block a Washington, D.C., law that places restrictions on law enforcement, the latest example of the Republican offensive against left-wing criminal justice reform.

The D.C. city council last year passed the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act, which sharply curtails the ability of police to respond to riots or violent protests. Vance seeks to stop the law with a joint disapproval resolution, which only requires a simple majority in the Senate to pass. There are currently three Republican cosponsors: Sens. Ted Budd (N.C.), Rick Scott (Fla.), and Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.).

"Congress must exert our constitutional authority to keep our nation’s capital safe," the Ohio Republican told the Washington Free Beacon.

The Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act limits law enforcement’s ability to search suspected criminals, while making it easier to log anonymous complaints against officers. The law also gives city officials power to release body-camera footage and the names of any officers involved in a "serious use of force."

Vance’s bill follows other Republican measures to unwind criminal justice legislation passed by the D.C. City Council as the nation’s capital sees a decades-high spike in murder and other crime. President Joe Biden in March signed into law a Republican-led bill nullifying an overhaul of the Washington, D.C., criminal code that lessened penalties for a litany of offenses, including gun crimes. Thirty-one Senate Democrats voted for the bill.

The House of Representatives passed a similar bill to Vance’s in April, with the support of all Congressional Republicans and 14 Democrats. Two Republican Senate offices said they are optimistic his bill will receive the support of some Democratic offices, particularly those who face competitive reelection fights in 2024.

President Joe Biden has vowed to veto any bills resembling Vance’s, which suggests a future showdown with the White House.

"It’s a disgrace that the capital of the most powerful nation on earth has become so dangerous, but this sad reality is exactly what we should expect when far-left activists are calling the shots," Vance said.