Congressional Republicans have sounded the alarm over the past few years about rising crime rates in Washington D.C., particularly involving armed carjackings, while most, but not all, Congressional Democrats have downplayed those concerns and continued to support progressive policies that defund and restrict law enforcement or reduce punishments for criminal offenders.
Some Republicans in Congress are now essentially saying "I told you so" after one of their Democratic colleagues, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), was carjacked at gunpoint Monday night in D.C.'s Navy Yard neighborhood, according to Fox News.
The Texas congressman, who unlike most of his fellow Democrats is proud to openly support police enforcement of law and order, was thankfully unharmed in the armed incident that some now hope will serve as a wake-up call for others on the left to take the D.C. crime issue more seriously.
ABC News reported that Rep. Cuellar was carjacked at gunpoint around 9:30 pm Monday night in the Navy Yard neighborhood, just blocks away from the U.S. Capitol complex, by three young black males, at least two of whom were armed with guns, who "swarmed" his vehicle in a parking lot, according to police and the congressman's office.
"I was just coming into my place," Cuellar told reporters upon his return to work Tuesday. "Three guys came out of nowhere and they pointed guns at me. I do have a black belt, but I recognize when you got three, three guns -- I looked at one with a gun and another with a gun, a third one behind me -- So they said they wanted my car. I said, 'Sure.'"
"You got to keep calm under those situations and then they took off. They recovered the car, they recovered everything," he continued with regard to the police later finding his car and phone after they were stolen, according to CNN, and then joked, "What really got me upset was they took my sushi, but anyway, that’s something else."
"You got to support law enforcement. And I've been doing that for a long time. I have three brothers who are peace officers," Cuellar added, per Fox News. "I do want to thank the Capitol Police and I certainly want to thank the Metro Police. I'm a big law enforcement person. I got three boys in law enforcement. So I certainly appreciate the good work that the police did."
Fox News noted that once it became clear that Rep. Cuellar had not suffered physical harm in the carjacking incident, a number of Republicans used the opportunity to reiterate their concerns about crime in D.C. and urge their "soft on crime" Democratic counterparts to join them in doing more to actually address the issue.
"Rep. Cuellar was carjacked near my same DC apartment building," Rep. Burgess Owens, (R-UT) said. "This chaos is the result of Democrat-led Soft on Crime policies, no different than their Open Border debacle. It's time for Democrats to start taking the safety of Americans seriously."
"Anyone who denies crime has skyrocketed since the defund the police movement is, well, a denier and part of the problem," said Rep. Dan Meuser, (R-PA). "Glad Henry Cuellar is okay after being carjacked, but countless citizens face unruly crime everyday. It’s time to stop crime, not deny its rampant existence."
"My friend, [Rep. Cuellar] (D. TX), became the victim of a crime tonight in what’s considered a nice part of D.C. D.C. is dangerous," Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said on social media. "Something’s gone terribly wrong here -- for far too long. Congress has the sole power to make D.C.’s laws, and must intervene."
Congress actually did intervene earlier this year, to an extent, according to The Texas Tribune, with a rare exercise of its ultimate authority over D.C. local leaders by way of a Republican-led proposal -- which Rep. Cuellar voted in support of while most Democrats voted against it -- to block implementation of a local D.C. ordinance that would have dramatically reduced sentences for a wide variety of crimes, including some violent ones like carjacking.
Yet, while local D.C. leaders sought to reduce penalties for carjacking, that particularly crime has skyrocketed in the nation's capital in recent years, rising from around 200 total in 2018 to more than 1,000 in 2022, per the Tribune.
In fact, the Associated Press reported that there have already been more than 750 carjackings in D.C. so far this year, and though the police are investigating this particular incident and claim to have leads on possible suspects, the AP noted that only around 113 carjacking-related arrests have occurred so far this year, with roughly two-thirds of those offenders being juveniles.