Breitbart News reports that Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) refrained from taking a position Wednesday on a resolution to block D.C.’s controversial criminal code rewrite, instead voting merely “present” on the measure while 33 of his Democrat colleagues joined Republicans in voting in favor of it.
The resolution passed the Senate with remarkable bipartisan support, 81 to 14, after President Biden revealed last week that, despite disapproving of the bill, he would not veto it if it came to his desk.
The update to the criminal code was widely criticized by Republicans and some Democrats because it would have reduced penalties for certain crimes, including carjackings, which occur well over once a day in D.C.
Warnock was the lone senator to vote “present,” indicating in a statement that he did not want to vote to override a decision made by D.C.’s local government, given the district does not have senators.
“DC residents aren’t represented in the Senate. It’s ironic some of my colleagues have no compunction about acting against the will of Americans in DC,” Warnock said. “I wish I had two Senate colleagues from DC I could talk to about this issue. But I don’t. So on this specific matter—one the DC Council has already withdrawn—I’m not going to overstep the people of DC.”
Warnock, who is also a longtime pastor, came under fire when he first ran for Senate in 2020 for conveying anti-police sentiments in some of his past sermons. He has also been supportive of sweeping police reforms, such as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would increase restrictions on officers and eliminate qualified immunity. Warnock is also staunchly opposed to cash bail.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) warned in an interview with Breitbart News in October in the leadup to Warnock’s reelection race that voters could expect Warnock to follow a “radical pro-crime agenda” if they reelected him. “Crime will continue to increase, and more people will be the victims of violent crime in Atlanta and Georgia and all across America,” Cotton said. “Raphael Warnock has a radical pro-crime agenda.”