WASHINGTON –– House GOP leaders on Wednesday seized on the D.C. crime bill to target Democrats as taking a soft-on-crime approach, as the Senate gets ready to vote on whether to override the measure.

“The 173 House Democrats who voted against this bill now have to explain to their constituents how they are the most radical, pro-criminal members of their party,” said Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.).

Last year, the D.C. Council passed an overhaul of the criminal code that softened penalties for some lower-level offenses. But the bill, which has been opposed by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and leaders in law enforcement, has become a political touchpoint for how to tackle increases in violent crime. The House of Representatives passed a GOP-led resolution in February to block the D.C. crime bill. 

Supported by Republicans and a handful of Democrats, the resolution is expected to pass in the Senate. President Joe Biden created a rift in his party by pledging to sign the resolution. Though the measure to block the crime bill has garnered some Democratic support, House GOP leaders did not shy away from criticizing those who oppose it.

The crime bill, formally known as the Revised Criminal Code Act of 2022, changes how criminal acts are defined and lowers “statutory maximum penalties for some violent crimes.” The GOP, as well as Biden, has cited D.C.’s crime issue as their reason for opposing the new criminal code.

During the news conference, Emmer called on Democrats to support the congressional legislation to block the crime bill.

“Joe Biden and the Democrats have a choice: continue to cave to the leftist lunacy that cost them total control of Washington, or buck the woke nonsense and join the GOP’s battle to restore common sense to the nation’s capital,” Emmer said.