D.C. Mayor Says Lack Of Stimulus Funds 'Infuriating' While Staffer Dies Of COVID-19
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that she had talked with President Trump about a "fix" to the relatively small amount of funding the city is slated to receive from the the landmark $2 trillion economic relief package.
The scale of the crisis in the city was underscored by the death of a member of Bowser's own administration Friday from COVID-19.
Washington, D.C., is set to receive about $500 million while each of the 50 states receives at least $1.25 billion — though D.C. has a larger population than two states and more confirmed coronavirus cases than 19 states.
At a press conference Friday, Bowser spoke about a conversation she had with President Trump a day earlier.
"I asked him if we would be able to follow up with [Treasury] Secretary Mnuchin on what we saw as the fix," Bowser said of her conversation with the president. "And he committed to looking into it and we call on him to do that."
Bowser had sharper words on Twitter earlier in the week, calling the measure that puts funds for Washington into the same category as U.S. territories "simply outrageous."
"The very idea that we are being treated like a territory is shocking, it's infuriating, and it's simply outrageous. We are NOT a territory. DC pays the highest taxes per capita in the nation, and we have a population larger than those of several states," Bowser wrote.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat from neighboring Maryland, agreed. On Wednesday he argued on the Senate floor that D.C. residents were being unfairly underfunded.
"The people of the District of Columbia send the IRS more tax revenues than 22 other states," Van Hollen said. "And yet when it came time to write the formula for distributing emergency funds for the coronavirus, they weren't part of the kind of funding formulas they normally are."
City officials also announced plans on Friday to scale back in-person voting ahead of the June primary. D.C. is planning to have just 20 in-person voting centers throughout the city for its June 2 presidential primary. The early voting period will begin May 22 and last through election day. Officials however are encouraging district residents vote by mail.
The total confirmed coronavirus cases in the city stood at 271 Friday, with four deaths. The latest was George Valentine, the deputy director of the Mayor's Office of Legal Counsel, member station WAMU reports.
"My prayers right now are with his family, his entire team, and of course we will be supporting them during this very difficult time," Bowser said.
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.