May 17, 2023 - Politics
Town Talker

James Comer and Muriel Bowser get along at D.C. hearing

Oversight chair Rep. James Comer and Mayor Bowser. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

From RFK to D.C. crime, Mayor Muriel Bowser and GOP Oversight and Reform Committee chair Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) — surprisingly — got along at Tuesday’s hearing on the District.

Comer and Bowser agree on opposing some of the D.C. Council’s crime bills. They want the federally appointed U.S. Attorney to prosecute more crimes. And they want more federal workers back in the office to help the city’s economy.

  • Comer said he would also work with the mayor on “a new arena” — a reference to the RFK site, where Bowser would like to build a new stadium district if Congress gives the city more control over the land’s use.
  • Comer even said his team would look at the marijuana rider that bars the city from taxing the sale of pot.

“Let me say publicly, the mayor and I met last week and had a very positive meeting,” Comer began, after gaveling his perilous-sounding “Overdue Oversight of the Capital City: Part II” hearing.

The big picture: Bowser’s interaction on the Hill was at points congenial, a sharp departure from Comer’s first hearing when Republicans charged D.C. Council members with causing a “crime crisis.”

Between the lines: Comer, who is a thorn in the side of President Biden, said he wanted to work with the mayor — not abolish her office, as conservative Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde has floated. Many Republicans also appeared to hold back on attacking the mayor.

“This committee has a history of Republican chairs working with Democratic mayors for the betterment of Washington, D.C.,” Comer said to conclude the three-hour hearing.

Zoom out: Most of the GOP’s ire was directed at U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves’ office declining to prosecute 67% of people arrested last year.

  • Graves has said the District’s unaccredited crime lab makes it harder to build cases, and at the hearing announced prosecutions have increased so far this year.

💬 Town Talker is a weekly column about local politics and power. Send me tips: [email protected].

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