Norton Holds Press Conference with Hoyer, Carper, and Van Hollen to Press for Equal Treatment of D.C. in Next Coronavirus Response Bill

Jul 23, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today held a press conference with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), and Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) to preemptively advocate for equal treatment of the District of Columbia in the next coronavirus response bill.

The CARES Act, passed in March, treated D.C. as a territory for fiscal relief – instead of as a state, as is usually the case for funding purposes – at the insistence of  Senate Republicans and the White House, depriving the District of $755 million in fiscal relief  to which it was entitled.

At the press conference, Norton also alerted Congress that equal treatment in the next coronavirus response bill also includes funding at the state, county and city levels for new fiscal relief since D.C. operates as all three levels of government, as well as access to the Federal Reserve’s new Municipal Liquidity Facility. At Norton’s request, the Heroes Act contains all of these.

Norton’s remarks from today, as prepared for delivery, are below.

“We are holding today’s press conference preemptively, as the pandemic continues, to make sure there is no repeat in the next coronavirus bill of the discrimination the District of Columbia experienced in the Senate-initiated CARES Act, where the District was denied the funding to which it was entitled. While the D.C. statehood bill overwhelmingly passed in the House last month, statehood is not necessary for the District to receive funding equal to the states in the next coronavirus response bill. The District gets and has always received equal funding in spending bills because District residents pay federal income taxes, and in fact, pay more federal taxes than the residents of any state.

“The House has already passed the next COVID-19 bill, the Heroes Act. First, the Heroes Act restores the $755 million the District was shorted in the CARES Act, where D.C. was treated as a territory. Every state got at least $1.25 billion in fiscal relief. The District got only $495 million.

“Second, the Heroes Act provides new fiscal relief, and we insisted that the District be treated equally for that relief. The Heroes Act provides funding to states, cities and counties. The District, uniquely in the United States, provides state, county and city services and therefore the Heroes Act funds D.C. as each level of government. Finally, the Heroes Act authorizes the District to participate in the new Municipal Liquidity Facility established by the Federal Reserve to support short-term borrowing by states and cities for coronavirus relief.

“No state or local jurisdiction has been more careful--indeed, more conservative--in following the recommendations of health authorities or in reopening than the District. For example, the city now requires mask-wearing in public by all people 2 years or older.

“The only reward the District seeks in return is equal treatment in all future funding.”

The video of the event can be streamed here.