ASAE joined more than 300 other associations and local businesses located in Washington, DC, this week in a letter asking Congress to address a disparity in funding for the nation’s capital to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in the recently-enacted CARES Act.
The $2.2 trillion CARES Act provides all 50 states with at least $1.25 billion to pay for emergency response and public health resources to combat the spread of the virus but allocates the District with just $500 million – the same amount provided to U.S. territories. The virus has hit the densely populated city of more than 700,000 hard with more than 3,200 positive COVID-19 diagnoses, outpacing at least two dozen other states. The DC metro area has more than 16,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.
The letter, organized by the Federal City Council, points out that DC residents pay more federal income taxes on a per capita basis than any other state, and as the seat of the federal government, the city is obligated to protect the health and safety of hundreds of thousands of federal workers.
“It is critical that the District of Columbia receive the funding it needs to ensure that adequate services can be provided both to official federal Washington and to District residents and visitors,” the letter says. “As members of the business community of the Metropolitan Washington region, we urge the federal government to ensure that the District of Columbia receives no less than the minimum allocation of $1.25 billion provided to each state in the CARES Act…and to ensure adequate support for the District in all future Congressional actions taken to rescue and recover from this global health pandemic.”
The funding slight for DC has attracted the attention of Democratic members of Congress. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said he would work toward making the District whole.
“The nearly 700,000 citizens of the District of Columbia deserve the same treatment with regards to emergency assistance as their counterparts in neighboring states,” he said in a statement. “I will work with my colleagues to ensure the DC government receives the resources it needs to support its citizens during this pandemic.”