U.S. House Administration Committee chairman Bryan Steil (R-WI) was the victim of an armed robbery in Washington, D.C., as a congressional staffer in 2004. “You think about your safety differently after being a victim of a crime,” Steil said after a security briefing his committee hosted, on rising violent crime in the nation’s capital, reports Roll Call. The briefing on Monday encouraged Hill staffers and members of Congress to watch their backs while out and about in the surrounding city. Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN) was assaulted in an elevator of her Washington apartment building in February A staffer for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was stabbed in March while walking on a D.C. street.
Those incidents sparked fear and stoked long-standing tensions between Congress and the city it calls home. They have come amid an uptick in homicides in the last year. Democrats in the House and the Senate joined their colleagues to override a D.C. Council bill that would have revised the city’s criminal code and reduced maximum penalties for crimes like armed carjackings. “There’s a lot of folks out there who deny it, say that crime is actually down,” D.C. Police Union Chairman Greggory Pemberton said at the briefing. “[Or say] it’s not as bad as it was in the ’90s. I never understood that argument, that at some point in time it was significantly worse so we should just accept increases in crime.” Homicides in the past three years are well below historic highs from the 1990s, when there were regularly more than 400 murders in a year. Now, the city has seen a 29 percent spike in homicides year-over-year, and the capital is on pace to exceed 200 homicides for the third year in a row. Violent crime as a whole — including homicide, sex abuse, assault with a dangerous weapon and robbery — is up 38 percent year-over-year. Motor vehicle theft has risen 108 percent since 2022. “The main problem we’re dealing with now is we have a city council that’s gone a little bit rogue,” Pemberton said.