(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – With cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) sharply rising in the National Capital Region, Rep. Jamie Raskin led 97 colleagues in urging House leadership to ensure that the District of Columbia receives its full and fair share of federal relief funds to battle the health and economic effects of the virus.
The District of Columbia is treating more than 1,500 COVID-19 cases and has already seen 33 deaths in the community. Its infection caseload is growing sharply along with cases in neighboring Maryland and Virginia and the rest of the country.
The Members wrote: “The CARES Act includes direct aid to states to help them respond to the many public health and economic challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak. But the allocation formula for these direct grants inexplicably breaks from overwhelming precedent and treats the District of Columbia like a federal territory rather than a state, meaning that it will receive about $500 million rather than the $1.25 billion minimum allotted to the states. The District will lose out on $750 million in essential funding during this crisis.”
The Members continued: “The District of Columbia is home to 705,000 people, a population larger than that of two states, and its citizens pay more in federal tax dollars than people in 22 states. District residents pay the same federal taxes as state residents, which is why the District has been treated like a state under almost all federal grant programs—and not like U.S. territories, whose citizens do not pay individual federal income taxes (although they do pay other kinds of federal taxes).”
The letter backs up the efforts of Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s non-voting representative, who has condemned this unequal treatment and pledged to work for full COVID-19 relief funding for the District. Congressman Raskin called Norton’s efforts to defend her constituents “heroic” and said, “it’s time for the rest of America to stand up for the population of the District, some of whom who may be our staff, colleagues and families and all of whom are our fellow Americans. Enough is enough.”
The letter is also signed by the following Members: Alma S. Adams, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Karen Bass, Donald S. Beyer, Jr., Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Anthony G. Brown, Julia Brownley, André Carson, Kathy Castor, Judy Chu, David Cicilline, Yvette D. Clarke, Wm. Lacy Clay, Emanuel Cleaver, Gerald E. Connolly, Jim Costa, Henry Cuellar, Danny K. Davis, Madeleine Dean, Diana DeGette, Rosa L. DeLauro, Val Butler Demings, Theodore E. Deutch, Debbie Dingell, Eliot L. Engel, Anna G. Eshoo, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, Marcia L. Fudge, Ruben Gallego, Jesús G. “Chuy” García, Sylvia R. Garcia, Jimmy Gomez, Raúl M. Grijalva, Debra A. Haaland, Alcee L. Hastings, Jahana Hayes, Sheila Jackson Lee, Pramila Jayapal, Hakeem S. Jeffries, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Marcy Kaptur, Robin L. Kelly, Ro Khanna, John B. Larson, Brenda L. Lawrence, Barbara Lee, Ted Lieu, Alan S. Lowenthal, Stephen F. Lynch, Gregory W. Meeks, Carolyn B. Maloney, Betty McCollum, A. Donald McEachin, James P. McGovern, Grace Meng, Gwen Moore, Seth Moulton, Jerrold Nadler, Grace F. Napolitano, Joe Neguse, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Scott H. Peters, Stacy E. Plaskett, Mark Pocan, Ayanna Pressley, Mike Quigley, Cedric L. Richmond, Bobby L. Rush, Tim Ryan, Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Linda T. Sánchez, John P. Sarbanes, Mary Gay Scanlon, Janice D. Schakowsky, Bradley S. Schneider, Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Terry A. Sewell, Donna E. Shalala, Brad Sherman, Adam Smith, Darren Soto, Thomas R. Suozzi, Bennie G. Thompson, Rashida Tlaib, David J. Trone, Lauren Underwood, Nydia M. Velázquez, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Peter Welch, Jennifer Wexton, Susan Wild, and John Yarmuth.
A copy of the letter is available here.