Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was among those frustrated with the White House zigzag over a Republican-backed bill to block the District of Columbia’s proposed overhaul of its criminal code.
In a rare criticism of the administration on Friday, Mrs. Pelosi said Democrats on Capitol Hill should have had a “heads up” that President Biden had no plan to block the GOP-led bill after publicly stating he opposed it.
“If he was going to do it I wish he would’ve told us first because this was a hard vote for the House members,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said on Friday during an event at the University of Chicago.
The measure to block the D.C. crime overhaul passed the Republican-led House in February with support from more than 30 Democrats. The Senate vote on the bill is expected next week.
The White House released a statement in February saying it opposes the disapproval resolution, though it did not explicitly threaten a veto.
On Thursday, Mr. Biden told Democratic senators explicitly that he would not veto the legislation, sparking frustration among the 173 Democrats who voted against the legislation in the House.
“I’m a big supporter of statehood for the District of Columbia. I voted with the District of Columbia,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “I understand why some people voted against. But if the president’s going to do it, hey, could you give us a heads up too in the House?”
House Republicans notched a significant win with the measure as they dialed up pressure on congressional Democrats, particularly red-state centrists who fear being tied to the defund-the-police movement.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended the administration’s handling of the matter on Friday, stating that Mr. Biden’s statement opposing the measure did not include a threat to veto the bill once it crosses his desk.
She added that Mr. Biden informed House Democrats of his decision during their annual retreat in Baltimore on Wednesday.