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Press Release Published: Apr 19, 2023

Comer: House Republicans Take Action to Block D.C.’s Anti-Police Bill

WASHINGTON—House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) today delivered remarks on the House floor in support of House Joint Resolution 42, which would block the D.C. Council’s anti-police bill from taking effect. Washington, D.C. faces a crime crisis resulting from soft-on-crime policies and the D.C. Council continues to seek to enact radical policies that threaten public safety. Under House Republicans’ leadership, Congress successfully blocked the D.C. Council’s bill to lower penalties for a number of violent criminal offenses.

Below are Chairman Comer’s remarks as prepared for delivery.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in support of House Joint Resolution 42, a resolution disapproving of the District of Columbia Council’s Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act of 2022.

The men and women of the Metropolitan Police Department serve their community every day to help keep the District safe and secure.

In doing so, they routinely place themselves in dangerous situations to protect others.

And yet, progressive policies from the D.C. Council continue to hamstring District officers and needlessly place them in unsafe situations.

The D.C. Council’s Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act of 2022 does just that.

For example, it requires burdensome and time-consuming approval hurdles before officers may put on riot gear for their own protection.

It creates new mechanisms for activists to harass officers and their families by obtaining personal information on the officers.

It also creates additional liability for officers that are not found in other police departments.

These are just a few of the many impractical and outrageous proposals of the legislation.

The DC Police Department has seen over 1,190 officers leave the force since the beginning of 2020.

That’s about one-third of the police department. 

Nearly 40 percent of those officers resigned.

That means they chose to leave the department instead of dealing with the increasingly impossible burdens placed on them by the Council.

Since then, crime has been soaring in the District.

Compared to this time last year:

Homicides are up 25 percent.

Motor vehicle theft is up 106 percent.

All crime is up 25 percent.

These troubling statistics cannot be allowed to continue.

The Council has continued to overlook its law enforcement officers in favor of progressive soft-on-crime policies that only benefit criminals.

The almost 700,000 residents of D.C. and approximately 20 million annual visitors to our Nation’s Capital deserve to feel safe.

Ensuring a vibrant and safe National Capital for all Americans to visit is a key ingredient of the District’s future financial health and a necessity for the federal government workforce.

And our police deserve to have the resources to ensure the safety of all.

The D.C. Council’s Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act does neither of those things.  

If the D.C. Council wants to continue down this path, they will have to answer to this Congress.

And we are not alone.

The D.C. Police Union, representing 3,500 members, and the U.S. Capitol Police Labor Committee have both endorsed this resolution of disapproval.

D.C.’s reckless reforms have also caught nation-wide attention with the National Fraternal Order of Police and the National Association of Police Organizations both asking Congress to block the D.C. reform package.

Additionally, the California Coalition of Law Enforcement Associations, the Fullerton Police Officers’ Association, and the Las Vegas Police Protective Association are all strongly in favor of H.J.Res. 42.

We see such broad, national support for this disapproval resolution because other jurisdictions know just how awful the D.C. Council’s anti-policing so-called “reforms” would be as a precedent for America’s cities.

Additionally, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declined to sign this legislation into law.

That should be a signal of how extreme it is.

But the D.C. Council did not listen and proceeded to pass it anyway.

We also have recent precedent to consider.

Recently thirty-one House Democrats and thirty-one Senate Democrats joined President Biden and House Republicans to block the D.C. Council’s Revised Criminal Code Act of 2022 from becoming law.

Congress successfully blocked the District’s attempt to lessen penalties on dangerous criminals, and now we must act again to address the D.C. Council’s reckless attempt to weaken local law enforcement.

The dangerous policing “reforms” addressed by H.J.Res. 42 are even worse for the current crime epidemic in D.C.

We must ensure that these pro-crime, anti-police policies are not allowed in our Nation’s Capital city which Congress has a special interest in overseeing.

If the D.C. Council wishes to engage Congress to seek reforms addressing specific problems in local law enforcement, then the Oversight Committee stands ready to have those conversations with D.C. leaders and my colleagues in the House.

But this police reform package which D.C. has presented to Congress for approval does far more harm than good—and must be rejected.

And to be clear, this is precisely the role of Congress when it comes to matters of the District’s governance.

Under the U.S. Constitution Congress is granted “exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever” over the District.

And the Home Rule Act does establish a degree of local governance.

But under the Home Rule Act, Congress maintains a role to scrutinize and approve of District legislation.

Just because Congress has not been fulfilling this role in recent decades is not a reason to avoid this responsibility now—especially when we know the nation’s Capital City is plunging into a crime crisis.

Now is the time for Congress to lean-in and provide the oversight the District so badly needs.

I urge my colleagues to support my colleague Mr. Andrew Clyde’s resolution of disapproval.

I reserve the balance of my time.