Norton Scores Her Top Three Priorities for D.C. in Heroes Act Passed Today by House

May 15, 2020
Press Release
Bill funds D.C. coronavirus response at state, city and county levels, retroactively fixes D.C. treatment in CARES Act, and authorizes participation in Federal Reserve funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced that Norton successfully got three provisions vital to the District of Columbia included in the Heroes Act, the phase-five coronavirus response bill passed today in the House. Norton secured state-, city-, and county-level funding for the District; $755 million in retroactive funding to fix D.C.’s treatment as a territory instead of a state in the CARES Act; and authorization for D.C. to participate in the Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF) the Federal Reserve is establishing.

According to estimates, the Heroes Act would provide D.C. this year with $1.5 billion. at the state level, $740 million at the city level, and $264 million at the county level, for a total of $2.5billion, to address the coronavirus health and economic s crisis. Norton argued, “D.C. uniquely provides state-city-county services to residents, so it should follow that the District receives funding at all three levels.”

The MLF is being established to support short-term borrowing by states, cities and counties for coronavirus relief. Norton got a fix in the Heroes Act authorizing D.C.’s participation in the MLF. “We do not yet know when or whether D.C. will need to participate in the MLF, but we could not. afford to wait to get this authorization,” Norton said.

Norton retrieved the $755 million Senate Republicans and the White House took from D.C. in the CARES Act, the phase-three coronavirus response bill passed on March 27. “The CARES Act intentionally discriminated against D.C. by treating us as a territory rather than a state in the Coronavirus Relief Fund, depriving the District of $755 million. We could not let that stand,” Norton said. “D.C. is almost always funded at the same level as the states, even without statehood, because the District pays the same federal income taxes as the states and, in fact, pays more per capita federal taxes than any state.”

Norton thanked Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) for their strong support for the D.C. provisions and reaffirmed her commitment to continue working with allies in the Senate to maintain these provisions in any final bill negotiated by the White House, Senate, and House. “Thank you, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Hoyer, for working so hard with me to ensure equal treatment for D.C. residents,” Norton said. “I look forward to working with allies in the Senate, led by Senators Van Hollen and Carper, to ensure these provisions are enacted into law.” In March, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor criticizing the Senate’s denial of $755 million for the District.  On April 1, Van Hollen and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) sent a letter, signed by 25 senators, to Senate leadership asking that D.C. be made whole in an upcoming coronavirus bill. On April 20, 250 members of the D.C. regional business community sent a letter to congressional leadership expressing concern that the District did not get full coronavirus funding when it was needed most and asked that any future legislation make the District whole.  Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) led a letter signed by 97 other House members – almost half the Democrats in the House – calling on House leadership to retroactively fix the coronavirus funding for the District.  On April 14, 102 national and local organizations, led by D.C. equality champion DC Vote, sent a letter calling on Congres­s to retroactively fix the treatment of the District as a territory rather than a state in the CARES Act.

In addition to the D.C. provisions, the Heroes Act contains many other priorities Norton pressed for, including hazard pay for workers who risk their lives, additional direct payments of $1,200 per family member, extended unemployment assistance, increased housing assistance, and a 15 percent increase in the maximum SNAP benefit.