[Congressional Record Volume 167, Number 217 (Thursday, December 16, 2021)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1383-E1384]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




  INTRODUCTION OF A BILL TO DESIGNATE THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AS AN 
                            EMPOWERMENT ZONE

                                 ______
                                 

                       HON. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON

                      of the district of columbia

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, December 16, 2021

  Ms. NORTON. Madam Speaker, I rise to introduce a bill that would 
statutorily add the District of Columbia to the national empowerment 
zone program, which provides federal tax incentives for businesses to 
locate and invest in low-income areas. In 1993, Congress created the 
national empowerment zone program and left it to federal agencies to 
designate a certain number of low-income areas as empowerment zones. 
The District was not one of the areas selected. However, in 1997, 
working primarily with Republicans in Congress, I created federal tax 
incentives for investment in the District by businesses and 
individuals. The business incentives were similar to, but more generous 
than, those available under the national empowerment zone program. I 
got the D.C. incentives reauthorized regularly until 2011, when 
Congress refused to extend only the D.C. incentives. At the same time, 
the national empowerment zone program continued to be extended and was 
last extended through 2025. Under my bill, certain low-income 
neighborhoods, particularly in Wards 5, 7 and 8, would be treated as 
empowerment zones as long as the national empowerment zone program 
remains in effect.
  The wisdom of the bipartisan, modest, targeted business tax 
incentives for D.C. has been amply and visibly demonstrated in the 
economic resurgence of parts of the nation's capital where they were 
utilized. Among the most visible examples are the formerly rundown area 
around Capital One Arena, which is now surrounded by offices, 
restaurants and

[[Page E1384]]

vibrant nightlife, and the Penn Quarter neighborhood, which had limited 
residential, commercial and retail spaces, and is now a popular mixed-
use neighborhood.
  Unfortunately, the D.C. tax incentives were allowed to expire before 
the poorest D.C. neighborhoods were ready to make use of them, 
especially in Wards 5, 7 and 8. Withdrawing the D.C. tax incentives, 
particularly after they had proven to be effective, has left the 
nation's capital with essentially half of a revival, and was tragically 
timed just as the lower-income parts of the District, which need the 
incentives most, are ready for redevelopment. The effectiveness of 
these incentives for the District has been demonstrated and their costs 
have been de minimis compared to the measurable benefits they have 
generated in the District.
  I strongly urge my colleagues to support this bill.

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