Coronavirus Relief Bill Shortchanges D.C., Gives It Less Money Than The States

Igor Bobic

The District of Columbia, which has a bigger population than two states and contributes more to federal tax coffers than many more, is due to receive significantly less money than any state in the emergency coronavirus relief bill moving through Congress.

The Senate approved the $2 trillion measure in a unanimous 96-0 vote late Wednesday. The House is expected to pass it without making changes on Friday, sending it to President Donald Trump to be signed into law.

The bill provides over 100 billion dollars to states and localities to reduce the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But it lumps the District ― which pays federal taxes ― in with U.S. territories like Puerto Rico and Guam, that do not. The distinction means Washington would receive only about $500 million in aid, unlike all 50 states that will receive a minimum of $1.25 billion.

Democrats condemned the provision, accusing Republicans of being behind it.

“Republican negotiators insisted on shortchanging residents who pay more taxes than people in 22 states. Shameful,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said on the floor on Wednesday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the move “discriminatory” and said she wanted future legislation to deliver more funding to the nation’s capital.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” she said at a Thursday press conference.

“The very idea that we are being treated like a territory is shocking, it’s infuriating, and it’s simply outrageous,” Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted. “We are NOT a territory. D.C. pays the highest taxes per capita in the nation, and we have a population larger than those of several states.”

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