The chances of the District being able to charge a commuter tax are looking even slimmer, despite a renewed push for Congress to revisit the controversial issue.
Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings is now the latest local official to oppose such a tax, which would charge those who work but do not live in D.C. He told the Baltimore Sun that the tax could lead to a turf war of everyone taxing everyone.
Several of his Democratic colleagues from Maryland, including Steny Hoyer, Chris Van Hollen and Sen. Benjamin Cardin have already weighed in against it. Across the Potomac River, Rep. Gerry Connolly and Sen. Mark Warner, also Democrats, have reportedly shot down the idea, as well.
The issue has been bandied about for years in the District, which attracts thousands of workers from outside its boundaries. It was rekindled last month when Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican who chairs a House committee overseeing the city, said it should be discussed in a hearing.
"We should, after the election, start thinking about how we're going to deal with the only place that doesn't have the ability to tax people who earn their income in that place," Issa said at the end of a hearing on an unrelated matter.
Some cities do charge various forms of such taxes and they have been considered in other major cities, such as London, New York and Atlanta. There are several ways such a tax could be enacted locally, as well, from an income tax on wages earned in the District to something smaller such as a transportation fee of some kind.
But the District is banned from enacting a commuter tax under the 1973 federal Home Rule Act. And in 2005, a federal appeals court upheld Congress' power over the issue, saying the District cannot impose a commuter tax without congressional permission.
Still, D.C. officials have tried and plan to keep trying.
As recently as this year, District officials tried again to enact a 5-cent surcharge on any rider using Metro's Union Station stop, with the money slated to go to station improvements there. Union Station, the busiest stop in the transit system, is a huge transfer point for riders coming in on commuter trains and buses from outside the city's borders.
The measure was never called a commuter tax but Maryland and Virginia officials both opposed the fee on that station as they did two years ago, despite supporting the overall concept of such fees for stations.
After Issa's comments, D.C.'s Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans also has reportedly said he'd like to propose legislation allowing the District to charge a low tax rate based on where people work, not just live.