(CNN) — The Senate voted Tuesday to pass a GOP-led resolution to block a DC policing bill aimed at accountability and reform – a resolution the White House has threatened to veto.
The Republican-controlled House passed the resolution in April, but it is not expected to become law. The vote amounted to a bipartisan rebuke of the DC bill after a number of Democrats crossed the aisle to vote with Republicans.
It vote served as an opportunity for Republicans to put vulnerable Democrats on the spot on a contentious political issue. The resolution only required a simple majority vote to pass in the Senate.
The DC Council bill that the resolution aims to block includes provisions related to improving police accountability and transparency, officer discipline, use-of-force reforms and improving access to body camera recordings.
Republicans have argued the DC policing bill would weaken the power of law enforcement officers to effectively respond to crime and have labeled it an “anti-police law.”
Democrats have defended reforms outlined in the legislation and have long contended that Congress should not interfere in the affairs of the Washington, DC, government. But there are divides within the Democratic Party over the issues of crime and policing, with some Democrats wary of being criticized by Republicans as “weak on crime.”
The resolution passed the Senate with a vote of 56 to 43. A significant number of Democrats crossed party lines to block the bill. Democrats who supported the GOP-resolution were Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Jacky Rosen of Nevada, Jon Tester of Montana, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and independents Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Angus King of Maine.
Four of those senators are up for reelection in 2024 – Manchin, Tester, Sinema and King.
“Congress must exert our constitutional authority to keep our nation’s capital safe,” Ohio Republican JD Vance said in a statement ahead of the vote. “For the good of every American who lives in or visits this town, I urge my colleagues to support my disapproval motion.”
While Congress has the power to overturn DC legislation, the DC attorney general has issued a legal opinion saying that Tuesday’s Senate vote can’t block the policing bill and that it has already become law.
In a statement on the legal opinion, DC Attorney General Brian Schwalb said, “The effort by Senate Republicans to advance a disapproval resolution now, after the 60-day review period has expired, has no legal consequence for the validity of the law, and is nothing more than empty political grandstanding.” The policing measure is “already law in the District of Columbia,” the statement said.
The White House has said President Joe Biden will veto the bill.
In a statement last month, the White House said that while the president does not support every provision of the policing bill, “he will not support congressional Republicans’ efforts to overturn commonsense police reforms such as: banning chokeholds; limiting use of force and deadly force; improving access to body-worn camera recordings; and requiring officer training on de-escalation and use of force.”
The vote on the GOP resolution taking aim at the DC policing bill took place after a similar measure sparked tensions among Democrats.
In March, Biden announced that he would not veto a different resolution to rescind a DC crime law. Congressional Democrats argued that the White House had not made its position clear before the House voted, creating confusion and frustration as a result.
That resolution went on to pass the Senate and Biden later signed it into law. This time around, the administration issued a veto threat before the House held its vote on the resolution targeting the policing bill.