July 31, 2020
Dear Members of the Congressional Delegation for Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia:
The Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) continues to impact our region’s employers, their employees, and their families, and we applaud your shared leadership and commitment to deliver much-needed assistance, especially to those most vulnerable. As a coalition of Capital Region business organizations, we are aligned to support your efforts in the passage of an additional economic relief package as soon as possible. We support the inclusion of funding for healthcare providers and healthcare systems to combat the virus, increased support for transit agencies, and additional aid for state and local governments who have diverted their already strained resources to preventing further spread of the virus, including equal support for the District of Columbia to protect its residents, federal employees, and economy.
As we work together to slow the spread of COVID-19, we stand together with you in putting the health and safety of our region first. For our economy to reopen safely and gradually we require clear guidance supported by data and science from public health and emergency response experts, informed by an increase in testing capacity, contact tracing and enhanced supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Our region spans three jurisdictions, with a significant portion of our workforce — especially those considered essential workers— relying on public transportation. Increased support for transit agencies is essential to ensure that our regional economy recovers from the pandemic and that workers can safely and reliably have access to jobs. We urge the Delegation to advocate for additional funding for our transit agencies, like the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), Washington Area Metropolitan Authority, Montgomery County Ride On, Prince George’s County The Bus, Fairfax County Connector, and the Greater Richmond Transit Company Authority, and ensure MTA receives an equitable funding allocation compared to its large metro transit partners throughout the U.S.
Also critical to our success is a fully functioning public sector partner at the federal, state, and local levels to achieve a safe reopening of our region’s businesses. Early estimates show the public sector budgetary impact from COVID-19 will exceed the Great Recession. The decline of the public sector workforce will limit the public sector’s ability to partner with the private sector to safely and gradually reopen our operations, and will suffocate our region’s ability to provide essential services such as public health, education, public safety, transportation, and other vital services.
As a result, we encourage you to work together with House and Senate leadership to provide additional aid for state and local governments to provide critical services and employment in FY2020 and FY2021. This funding should remain flexible and support the important services such as public health, transportation (e.g., transit and Amtrak), K-12 and higher education, housing, job retraining and upskilling. We also urge you to ensure that the District of Columbia receives funding that is equal to aid provided to states, because District residents and its businesses have been equally impacted and deserve equal treatment.
Thank you for your leadership and attention to our region’s needs during this very difficult time, and please do not hesitate to reach out for further support.
Brian Anderson, ChamberRVA
Anthony A. Williams, Federal City Council
Donald C Fry, Greater Baltimore Committee
Jack McDougle, Greater Washington Board of Trade
Jennifer Kaplan, Greater Washington Partnership
David C. Harrington, Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce
Julie Coons, Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce