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Press Release Published: May 16, 2023

Comer: This Committee and DC Leaders Must Come Together to Address Rising Crime in Our Nation’s Capital

WASHINGTON – Today, House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) delivered opening remarks at a full committee hearing titled “Overdue Oversight of the Capital City: Part II.”In his opening statement, Chairman Comer emphasized that the Committee’s objective is to work with District leaders to ensure a capital that is safe and prosperous for its residents and visitors. He highlighted that the District of Columbia is suffering from rising, unchecked crime and far below-average education levels. During the Committee’s first hearing on March 29, members of the D.C. Council refused to acknowledge their soft-on-crime policies that emboldened criminals and Chairman Comer stated that he remains concerned about a lack of resources and funding for the Metropolitan Police Department. He noted that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser opposed many of the D.C. Council’s reckless actions and stressed that her testimony will assist the Committee’s oversight efforts. He concluded that Congress and District leaders can continue to work together to achieve meaningful progress on the critical issues facing our nation’s capital.

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

Under Article I of the Constitution, Congress has jurisdiction over the nation’s capital.

And the House rules charge this Committee with a duty to oversee the municipal affairs of the District of Columbia.

We want our nation’s capital to be a safe and prosperous city for its residents and visitors alike.

But our nation’s capital is declining by several metrics.

Crime has gone through the roof.

Education levels are on the floor.

According to the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, motor vehicle thefts in the District have increased by over one hundred percent compared to this time last year.

Fifty-seven percent of these carjackings are committed by juveniles.

Total property crime is up thirty percent.

Homicides are on track to for the highest rate since 2003.

This year alone, we have already seen over 1,500 violent crimes committed, with total crime up twenty-seven percent from last year.

D.C. clearly has a crime crisis.

At this Committee’s March 29 hearing, members of the D.C. Council refused to acknowledge this reality.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson went as far as saying there is not a crime crisis in Washington, D.C.

But the numbers speak for themselves.

The residents of D.C. and Americans who come to visit their nation’s capital deserve to be safe.

I am concerned about a lack of resources and funding for the Metropolitan Police Department as well as officer retention and recruitment challenges.

And I am concerned that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, which prosecutes local crimes in D.C., declined to prosecute 67 percent of cases last year.

The D.C. Council’s continued attempts to push soft-on-crime legislation and policies are emboldening criminals.

Mayor Bowser thankfully opposed many of the D.C. Council’s reckless actions and rhetoric.

This Republican-led House has passed two joint resolutions to halt these soft-on-crime proposals from the Council.

Both of these joint resolutions passed with bipartisan support.

However, many of my Democratic colleagues on this Committee have actively cheered on the Council’s reckless actions and criticized congressional action to restore order. 

I hope this Committee will come together for substantive discussions on how to address our capital city’s most pressing issues, especially crime.

Today’s hearing will also address the crucial role that the Mayor plays in ensuring the best possible education for the District’s children.

Pandemic policies and prolonged closures have led to huge drops in math and language scores for students across all grades.

These policies have also resulted in record-level truancy.  In 2022, 48 percent of D.C. students qualified as chronically absent from school.  

Something needs to be done to turn this situation around.  I look forward to hearing some solutions today. 

Finally, maximum federal telework has created huge financial strains on the District.

Downtown D.C. has become a shadow of its former self.

Mayor Bowser has been vocal about the need for federal employees to return to the office.

Yet bustling streets and full office buildings have been replaced by maximum telework, leading to businesses leaving the District and a substantial loss of revenue.

It is time, in the post-pandemic world, to have our federal government workers return to their offices, especially D.C. offices, to continue to serve the American people.

I thank the Mayor and U.S. Attorney for appearing today, as well as Chief Contee and Administrator Donahue.

This week is also National Police Week, so I’d like to send an additional thank you to the men and women who police the streets of D.C. to keep us safe, and to all officers across the country who serve their communities.

I look forward to working with my colleagues and District leaders here today to achieve meaningful progress on the critical issues facing our nation’s capital.
I now recognize Ranking Member Raskin for his opening remarks.