Van Hollen, Norton Urge Appropriations Committees to Provide Supplemental Funding for D.C’s Emergency Planning and Security Fund
Today, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) released a joint letter urging supplemental FY 2019 appropriations to the District of Columbia’s Emergency Planning and Security Fund (ESPF), warning that if the District “does not receive supplemental appropriations for the EPSF, it would be put in the untenable position of not providing support for certain federal events or having to divert its local funds from local public safety activities to support activities that are to be covered by the EPSF.”
The federally funded EPSF pays for the public safety and security costs the District incurs as the nation’s capital, supporting numerous federal events and activities. Congress appropriated $12 million for the EPSF in FY 2019, but based on current spending rates, the fund will reach zero as of next month. The letter notes this current trajectory does not include President Trump’s unprecedented Fourth of July celebration, which carries a likely substantial, unknown cost. Van Hollen and Norton will request additional funds in FY 20 to reimburse the District for extra costs related to the Fourth of July celebration and other federal events. In addition, the District for the first time in recent memory has also not been reimbursed for $7.3 million in local funds it spent to support President Trump’s 2017 inauguration. The District has been reimbursed for such costs previously.
“The District of Columbia’s local police and emergency services have always provided excellent security and public safety for the nation’s capital, despite numerous challenges,” Van Hollen and Norton said. “However, the failure to replenish this fund has stretched the District’s resources thin, placing the District in an untenable position of having to choose between diverting resources from securing federal initiatives or diverting resources from public safety. We urge appropriators to provide the necessary $6 million so the District can continue to ensure the safety of all residents and all participants in federal events, without making local police and emergency services choose one or the other.”
The full text of the letter can be viewed below:
June 18, 2019
Dear Chairs Lowey, Shelby, Quigley and Kennedy and Ranking Members Granger, Leahy, Graves and Coons:
As negotiations continue on a second fiscal year (FY) 2019 supplemental appropriations bill, we urge you to provide $6 million in supplemental FY 2019 funds for the federally funded District of Columbia Emergency Planning and Security Fund (EPSF). If the District does not receive supplemental appropriations for the EPSF, it would be put in the untenable position of not providing support for certain federal events or having to divert its local funds from local public safety activities to support activities that are to be covered by the EPSF.
The EPSF pays for the unique public safety and security costs the District incurs as the nation’s capital. The costs cover providing public safety at events related to the presence of the nation’s capital in the District, providing response support to immediate and specific terrorist threats or attacks in the District and providing support for requests from the United States Secret Service. The committee report accompanying the House’s FY 19 FSGG appropriations bill stated, “As the seat of the national government, the District of Columbia has a unique and significant responsibility for protecting the property and personnel of the Federal Government. The Federal Payment for Emergency Planning and Security Costs is provided to help address the impact of the Federal presence on public safety in the District of Columbia.”
Congress provided $12 million for the EPSF in FY 2019, and the EPSF had $2 million in carryover funds at the start of FY 2019. Based on its current spend rate, however, the District is expected to run out of EPSF funds by this July. It is important to note that the spend rate does not factor in the substantial unanticipated costs for President Trump’s July 4th speech and activities at the Lincoln Memorial. Since the July 4th program has not yet been set, those costs are still unknown.
The shortfall in the EPSF is the result of three factors: increased event costs, smaller appropriations over the last few years and failure to reimburse the District for $7.3 million in local funds it spent to support President Trump’s 2017 inauguration. Historically, the District had been fully reimbursed for inauguration and other federal event costs.
We appreciate your addressing this matter of critical importance to the federal government and the finances of the District. It is important that EPSF have sufficient funds so that the District is not forced to use its local funds to support the federal government.
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