- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 16, 2023

House GOP investigators say they aren’t done digging into D.C. management, particularly of public safety, and will hold a general hearing on the topic this month.

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, Kentucky Republican, invited D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat; and D.C. Council member Charles Allen, Ward 6 Democrat; D.C. Chief Financial Officer Glen Lee; and the head of the D.C. Police Union, Greggory Pemberton, to the March 29 session.

“Congress has sent a clear message to the D.C. Council: it’s time to make our nation’s capital safe again. All Americans should feel safe in their capital city, but radical left-wing policies have led to a crime crisis and rampant homelessness,” Mr. Comer said. “As the committee with jurisdiction over the District of Columbia, the Oversight Committee has a constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight of the policies that have plagued our capital city.”

Efforts to dig into D.C. affairs follow a successful effort by congressional Republicans to block a D.C. overhaul of the criminal code that would have weakened maximum penalties for carjacking and other crimes.

Some Democrats backed the disapproval resolution, and President Biden decided not to veto it, underscoring Democrats’ fears of being painted as soft on crime.

Mr. Mendelson said D.C. officials did a poor job of messaging the bill, which aligned penalties with the level of punishment doled out in the states. Local officials fear the episode will open the door to more interference in city affairs.

House Republicans frequently exercise their constitutional power to block D.C. laws, particularly when they hold the majority. While disapproval resolutions rarely succeed, Republicans have attached so-called riders to must-pass legislation to block D.C. attempts to fund abortions with local funds and set up legal marijuana sales.

Recent GOP oversight efforts have focused on public safety in the nation’s capital.

Rep. Andrew Clyde, the Georgia Republican who led the charge against the D.C. criminal code overhaul, issued a new threat to rescind a D.C. police overhaul effort that began in the wake of George Floyd’s death in 2020 and was transmitted to Congress in a final bill in January.

Among other changes, the local bill prohibited the use of neck restraints, increased access to footage from body-worn police cameras and expanded membership on the Force Review Board.

The D.C. Police Union opposes the changes, saying they have had a negative impact on officer retention and recruiting.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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