Statement: Councilmember Robert White Condemns Federal Infringement on District Home Rule

Yesterday, President Biden announced that he will not veto a disapproval resolution that would forbid the District from implementing criminal code reforms passed unanimously by the DC Council. This is a serious attack on DC’s right to home rule and self-governance–the first overturning of a local law in over 30 years.

This is nothing more than political theater and cowering to attacks on DC for political gain. Politicians at every level are using a bill to modernize our 120-year-old criminal code to signal that they are tough on crime. And it’s understandable: crime and violence are real issues today. We don’t feel safe and we need to fix that. The violence we are seeing now and the violence spike in the 1980s both happened under our current, 120-year old criminal code. That is the same code we will be stuck with now when our locally-passed legislation gets overturned by a Congress in which we District residents have no vote. And to make matters worse, this capitulation opens the door for Congress to continue to attack DC’s self-governance. 

If members of Congress will attack a local criminal code that is more strict than criminal codes in many of their own jurisdictions, we should not believe that a different bill will spare us from those who want to attack DC’s home rule. The District is, yet again, being used as a pawn in national politics.

Our rights as Americans and the principles of democracy are under attack. Now is the time for all District residents to unite around home rule. We should not scapegoat. We should close ranks and leave no room for question about whether DC’s home rule matters.

Congress’ and the President’s actions are an affront to democracy, self-governance, and self-determination. The President cannot claim to support home rule and overturn the laws of local officials who were elected by the people. Democracy cannot be conditional. Home rule cannot be subject to what is politically convenient. That’s colonialization – not democracy. District residents are angry, and it adds insult to the injury of not having statehood.

Four months ago, President Biden spoke about the urgency of protecting our national values. He said, “We’ll have our difference of opinion. And that’s how it’s supposed to be. But there is something else at stake: democracy itself.”

District residents: ensure that the President hears our opposition to this attack on democracy. Write to President Biden, and urge friends and relatives who live in states that have representation in Congress to tell their elected officials how wrong this is. We the people of DC deserve so much better.

Click here to send an email to President Biden

Or, you can write a letter and mail it to President Biden here:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Let's Stay in Touch!

Sign up for info and updates from Councilmember Robert White

Skip to content