Norton Thanks 25 Senators for Letter Supporting Coronavirus Funding for the District of Columbia
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) released a statement thanking 25 senators, including Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Thomas Carper (D-DE), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), and Kamala Harris (D-CA), for sending a letter today to Senate leadership asking that the District of Columbia retroactively receive full coronavirus relief funding. The letter was led by Senators Van Hollen and Carper.
The letter, which was sent to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-DC), cites salient facts about the District: a higher population than two states and paying more in federal taxes than 22 states. Currently, 495 D.C. residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19 – more cases than in 19 states – yet the CARES Act, the latest coronavirus response bill, treated D.C. as a territory instead of a state in the state stabilization fund, depriving D.C. of $750 million, even though D.C. is almost always treated as a state for federal funding. Norton is working with House Democratic leaders and Democratic allies in the Senate, including those who signed the letter, to make the District whole in the next coronavirus response bill.
Congresswoman Norton’s statement, along with the letter, is below.
“I am deeply grateful to Senator Chris Van Hollen, Senator Tom Carper and the 23 other senators who wrote to Senate leadership on behalf of the District of Columbia. Their strong and urgent letter is particularly important to us because the District has no representation in the Senate, and it is the Republican Senate and White House that initiated the treatment of D.C. as a territory. Because our residents are not spread out but live in close quarters in rowhouses and apartments, the District is particularly vulnerable to the spread of this highly contagious virus. With 495 confirmed cases, the District faces an unprecedented and growing crisis. With the invaluable help of these senators, we believe we can retrieve the funds that we were unfairly denied the District. The senators have the deepest appreciation from D.C. residents, elected officials, and, of course, from me, their colleague in the House.”
April 1, 2020
The Honorable Mitch McConnell The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
Senate Majority Leader Senate Minority Leader
United States Senate United States Senate
S-230, United States Capitol S-221 United States Capitol
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510
Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer,
As Congress continues to respond to the COVID-19 national emergency, we urge you to provide necessary relief to our nation’s capital, the District of Columbia.
The CARES Act included important relief for state and local governments that are managing unanticipated costs as they prepare and respond to the threat of COVID-19 and manage the health and economic impacts. Every state will receive a minimum of $1.25 billion. However, while the District of Columbia is consistently treated as a state in federal formulas for education, transportation, and other programs, the CARES Act grouped the District with the territories for the purpose of the Coronavirus Relief Program.
The District of Columbia is not simply the site of the federal government. It is home to 700,000 Americans, with a higher population than two states. Its residents pay federal income tax and follow federal laws. In fact, they contribute more tax revenue than 22 states. Currently, 495 residents of the District have been diagnosed with COVID-19, more than 19 states.
In an effort to flatten the curve and contain the spread of COVID-19, the District has closed all non-essential businesses through April 24, 2020. As in many of our states, small businesses are shuttered, local restaurants are struggling to convert to take-out operations or closing temporarily, and parents are at home caring for their children as schools are closed.
Because the CARES Act did not follow the precedent of treating the District as a state for the purposes of federal funding, the District will be shortchanged more than $700 million.
Regardless of one’s views on D.C. Statehood, it is shameful and unprecedented to change the District’s treatment in a bill to provide support for emergency response. Controlling the spread of COVID-19 is a shared priority of all the states, and drastically underfunding an urban area that is closely connected to its surrounding states and the northeast corridor is shortsighted and inexcusable.
The District of Columbia does not have representation in the Senate, but it does have support. We urge you to work quickly to address this issue with new emergency appropriations to ensure that our nation’s capital has the resources it needs to respond to this national emergency.
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN
THOMAS R. CARPER
MARK R. WARNER
BENJARMIN L. CARDIN
RICHARD J. DURBIN
CHRISTOPHER A. COONS
JEFFREY A. MERKLEY
KIRSTEN E. GILLIBRAND
CORY A. BOOKER
EDWARD J. MARKEY
MAZIE K. HIRONO
KAMALA D. HARRIS
ROBERT P. CASEY, JR.
MICHAEL F. BENNET
CHRISTOPER S. MURPHY