November 17, 2020

Van Hollen, Norton Urge Appropriations Leadership to Replenish Funding for D.C. Emergency Planning & Security Fund

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) sent a letter yesterday to the leadership of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Financial Services and General Government in support of the District of Columbia’s request for $118.3 million for the D.C. emergency planning and security fund (EPSF) in the final fiscal year 2021 D.C. Appropriations bill. 

The federally-funded EPSF pays for the unique public safety and security costs the District incurs as the nation’s capital and is used to cover expenses such as inaugurations and major events requiring an increased police presence. 

“Over the years, D.C.’s Emergency Planning & Security Fund has been used to support the inaugurations of presidents of both political parties as well as a number of national events honoring our democracy,” Senator Van Hollen said. “But the Trump Administration has repeatedly diverted these funds for political stunts and refused to replenish them. These funds, which are vital to the safety and security of our nation’s capital and the American people, must be restored. I urge my colleagues to back this bipartisan measure.”   

“This fund does not pay for local matters but is used exclusively for protecting the federal presence,” said Congresswoman Norton. “These funds are particularly necessary during this transition year when D.C. will be welcoming the inauguration of a new presidential administration and a new Congress.”

The full text can be viewed here and below: 

Dear Chairmen Quigley and Kennedy and Ranking Members Womack and Coons:

We write in support of the District of Columbia’s request for $118.3 million for the federally funded emergency planning and security fund (EPSF) in the final FY 21 District of Columbia Appropriations bill.  This request is particularly urgent because of the increased fiscal pressure on the District during the coronavirus health and economic crisis.  If the District does not receive this funding, Congress would be putting the District in the untenable position of either not providing support for activities related to the federal presence or having to continue precariously to divert its local funds from local activities to activities related to the federal presence.

The EPSF pays for the unique public safety and security costs the District incurs as the nation’s capital.  The committee report accompanying the House’s FY 21 D.C. 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 helps address the impact of the Federal presence on public safety in the District of Columbia.”  The EPSF is designed to cover the District’s costs upfront so D.C. does not need to first expend local funds and then seek an appropriation to be reimbursed for such costs after the fact. 

We appreciate that Congress provided $18 million for the EPSF in the FY 20 D.C. Appropriations bill and $5 million in FY 20 EPSF supplemental funding in the CARES Act.  However, primarily due to the protests in the wake of the George Floyd killing and the lack of any EPSF carryover funds, the EPSF had a $43 million deficit in FY 20.  The bill must reimburse the District for these funds.

In addition, the District is requesting $21.9 million for the 2021 inauguration.  The District is also requesting $53.4 million for non-inauguration FY 21 EPSF costs.

We would appreciate your addressing this matter of critical importance to the federal government and the finances of the nation’s capital.  It is important that the EPSF have sufficient funds so that the District can provide appropriate and necessary support for federal activities.