Trump administration misses census data deadline, eyes March handover to Congress

Jan 12, 2021
In The News

Data from the 2020 Census will likely not be provided to Congress until March due to analysis delays caused by various global events as well as problems with some of the information collected, the Trump administration said on Monday after missing a deadline.

The Associated Press reported that Justice Department attorneys told a court that it will take until at least March 6 to fix anomalies discovered last year during an already shortened analysis period.

Experts had warned for months that the Trump administration was not giving adequate time for both data collection and analysis in a year complicated by both the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and wildfires across the western U.S. that forced thousands to flee their homes last year.

Lawmakers have accused the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, of stonewalling their attempts at oversight while hiding information about delays affecting the 2020 census. In December, the House Oversight and Reform Committee moved to subpoena Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross over the issue.

Ross, wrote committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), "repeatedly failed to inform the Committee on a timely basis of grave problems with the Census, forcing us time and time again to read about them in the press rather than from the agency."

"By blocking the production of documents requested by the Committee, you and others in the Trump Administration are preventing Congress from verifying the scope of these anomalies, their impact on the accuracy of the Census, and the time that professionals at the Census Bureau need to fix them," Maloney added in her letter to Ross last month. 

The delays mean that the data will not be provided to Congress before President-elect Joe Biden takes office, an outcome that assures that the 2020 census data will not be affected by one of outgoing President Trump's priorities for the data: the subtraction of undocumented immigrants from the population count, a move that would wildly affect congressional representation and federal funding in some areas.