Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), today led a group of 18 Republican colleagues in introducing a broad package to clarify and strengthen violent crime laws related to attacks on law enforcement, bank robbery, carjacking, kidnapping and other offenses. The Combating Violent and Dangerous Crime Act resolves discrepancies brought on by conflicting court decisions and clarifies congressional intent regarding crimes of violence and their respective penalties. Despite an ongoing crime wave, no Democrats have agreed to cosponsor the fixes.
“Communities across the country are seeing steep rises in attacks on police, carjackings and other violent crimes, and Americans have taken note, with crime being a leading concern in recent elections. This bill includes a number of small fixes that will go a long way in improving justice and preventing future crimes by clearing up ambiguity in existing law. Congress recently took bipartisan action to block a Washington, D.C., law to reduce penalties for violent crime amid a crime surge. I invite my fellow Democrat colleagues to build on that bipartisanship and support this important bill,” Grassley said.
Many communities across the country continue to experience steadily increasing violent crime. Murder rates increased 30 percent in 2020 and continued climbing in 2021. Carjackings, particularly in urban areas are on the rise, with some cities recording up to 400 percent spikes. Overdose deaths surpassed 100,000 last year, with fentanyl appearing in a variety of substances, including candy-flavored drugs that are marketed to children. 2021 marked the deadliest year for law enforcement since the September 11 attacks in 2001.
The Combating Violent and Dangerous Crime Act addresses ambiguity and conflicting application of existing law by clarifying congressional intent without establishing sweeping new offense categories. Among other provisions, the bill:
- Clarifies that attempted bank robbery and conspiracy to commit bank robbery are punishable under the current bank robbery statute;
- Rectifies conflicting circuit court decisions that have resulted in a higher burden to charge offenses like assaulting a police officer than Congress intended;
- Increases the statutory maximum penalty for carjacking and removes a duplicative intent requirement needed to charge a carjacking offense;
- Rectifies conflicting circuit court decisions by clarifying that an attempt or conspiracy to commit an offence involving physical force meets the legal definition of a crime of violence;
- Outlaws the marketing of candy-flavored drugs to minors; and
- Establishes a new category of violent kidnapping offences, allowing for greater penalties for violent kidnapping.
“The Major County Sheriffs of America is pleased to support this bill which would clarify and strengthen federal law related to certain violent crimes including carjacking, help safeguard children from dangerous drugs, and protect federal law enforcement officers. We applaud Senator Grassley for this effort to ensure federal law provides tools to deter and punish violent crime,” said the Major County Sheriffs of America.
“This legislation brings clarity to many areas in the law currently impacted by circuit splits. This clarity will enhance the rule of law by creating consistency in criminal enforcement. As violent crime continues to rise in major cities, this legislation will also increase successful prosecutions and deter offenses like bank robbery, carjackings, and kidnappings. This bill also addresses our nation’s ongoing drug overdose epidemic and seeks to protect our nation’s most vulnerable citizens: children. NAAUSA fully supports this legislation and appreciates Senator Grassley for leading on these issues,” said Steve Wasserman, National President of the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys (NAAUSA).
“Across the country, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies are fighting to contain the increased violent crime our communities are facing. NAPO has long believed that stricter penalties deter crime. The Combating Violent and Dangerous Crime Act will clarify and strengthen federal law to ensure that law enforcement and prosecutors have the necessary tools to successfully bring violent criminals to justice. We thank Senator Grassley for his steadfast support for the law enforcement community,” said Bill Johnson, Executive Director, National Association of Police Organizations.
“NDAA is excited to endorse the Combating Violence and Dangerous Crime Act, an important effort to fix criminal provisions in Title 18 of the Federal Code which ensures prosecutors have the tools needed to hold bad actors accountable. We look forward to working alongside the Senate Judiciary Committee to adopt these commonsense measures to improve public safety,” said Nelson Bunn, Executive Director, National District Attorneys Association.
“A lack of accountability within the criminal justice system is contributing to the current violent crime situation in America, as offenders do not believe they will face consequences for their actions. The Combatting Violent and Dangerous Crime Act will help ensure that violent offenders are held accountable by addressing circuit court splits, closing loopholes in the law, and updating outdated statutes. The MCCA thanks Sen. Grassley for introducing this legislation and his continued support for law enforcement,” said Dallas Police Department Chief Eddie Garcia, President of Major Cities Chiefs Association.
Along with Grassley, the bill is cosponsored by Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), James Risch (R-Idaho), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.).