HAND joined Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG) and nearly 30 philanthropic, business and nonprofit leaders in a public statement calling for fair and equitable treatment of the District of Columbia as part of federal stimulus legislation related to the COVID-19 crisis.
The statement outlined the gravity of losing $750 million needed to address racial and economic inequities and to support thousands of small businesses, nonprofits, and over 700,000 residents. It noted the District’s important role in the operation of national sites and museums, and the federal government, its contribution to the nation’s tax base, and the established precedent of having treated DC as a state in other legislation.
An excerpt reads:
“The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, treated Washington, DC differently than virtually all other federal legislation by funding it comparably to U.S. territories rather than states—which meant it lost some $750 million in essential financial support (the District of Columbia was allocated about $500 million compared to $1.25 billion for states). This break with Congressional precedent should matter to everyone. As representatives of philanthropic, business and nonprofit organizations in the Greater Washington region (DC, Suburban Maryland, and Virginia), we are adamant that it is both fair and appropriate that future COVID-19 legislation maintain decades of past practice by funding DC comparably to states.
DC’s population of 705,000 is higher than some states. Its residents pay the highest per-capita federal income taxes in the country and together pay more taxes than 22 states. A U.S. Senate report notes, ‘Congress already treats the District as if it were a state for the purpose of over 500 statutory purposes — from federal taxation to military conscription to highway funds, education funds, and national motor voter requirements. The Supreme Court has also deemed DC the equivalent of a state for certain constitutional purposes…'”