Mar 8, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: GOP ads hit vulnerable Dems over D.C. crime law

House Republicans are out with their opening salvo against House Democrats over a D.C. crime law that lowers maximum penalties for some violent offenses.

Why it matters: It's an early example of the pipeline Republican are creating between their new House majority, which can force Democrats into tough votes on wedge issues, and their campaign apparatus, which can whack them with those votes in 2024 ads.

Driving the news: The National Republican Congressional Committee is releasing digital ads, accompanied by a five-figure ad buy, against 15 vulnerable House Democrats who voted against a resolution last month blocking the D.C. crime law from taking effect.

  • "173 House Democrats voted to support reduced sentences for violent crimes. So crazy, even President Biden won't support the anarchy," the ads say, referring to President Biden saying he would sign the resolution.
  • The targeted Democrats include Trump-district Reps. Mary Peltola (Alaska) and Matt Cartwright (Pa.), as well as Rep. Abigail Spanberger (Va.).
  • The others: Chris Deluzio (Pa.), Dina Titus (Nev.), Emilia Sykes (Ohio), Frank Mrvan (Ind.), Gabriel Vasquez (N.M.), Hillary Scholten (Mich.), Jahana Hayes (Conn.), Mike Levin (Calif.), Seth Magaziner (R.I.), Steven Horsford (Nev.), Susan Wild (Pa.) and Val Hoyle (Ore.).

What's next: The Senate is set to vote on the resolution this week, even after the D.C. Council attempted to withdraw the controversial law and said they would go back to the drawing board.

Between the lines: House Democrats have been incensed at Biden for waiting until after the House vote to say he won't veto the resolution, giving swing-seat House Democrats less cover to vote for it and bolster their tough-on-crime credentials.

  • “It was less than ideal," Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) told Axios on Tuesday. "[O]ur hope is that there will be much greater clarity going forward.”
  • "It would’ve been really good to have a heads up," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

The other side: "Knowing President Biden's intentions would not have changed my vote," Rep. Magaziner told Axios on Tuesday.

  • Magaziner added, however, that "as a general principle, the more communication from the White House the better."
  • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Tommy Garcia told Axios that Democrats have "proven they are committed to public safety – combating gun violence, funding local policing, and working to improve justice and accountability at all levels of government."
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