Maloney: Ross Decision to Add Citizenship Question Politicizes Census

Mar 27, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, co-chair of the House Census Caucus and author of the Census IDEA Act, released the following statement after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that a question regarding respondents’ citizenship status will be included on the 2020 decennial census.

“This decision by Secretary Ross to add a last-minute citizenship question will cripple the 2020 Census and lead to an incomplete and unfair count of all people living in our country. This is a deliberate effort to politicize the census for partisan gains that violates the standards set forth in the Constitution mandating an accurate count of the nation. Congress should block this action by passing the Census IDEA Act, which I introduced last week. We cannot accept an incomplete or unfair count in 2020 — too much is at stake. The census, mandated by the Constitution, affects the way federal and state funds are distributed and district lines are drawn, and helps businesses grow and non-profits better serve their communities.  Republicans need to join with Democrats to protect the integrity of the 2020 Census.”

BACKGROUND

2020 Census IDEA (Improving Data and Enhanced Accuracy) Act Bill Summary

The 2020 Census IDEA Act is designed to ensure that the Decennial Census is executed with the highest level of accuracy at the lowest cost to the American tax payer. As America’s largest peacetime undertaking, the decennial census guides the distribution of nearly $700 billion in federal funding and shapes reapportionment of federal, state, and local political jurisdictions. It is the foundation of our democracy and, as such, requires years of planning and preparation before the enumeration process even begins. This bill is crafted to prohibit any late untested operational design changes or questions that introduce great risk to the accuracy, cost, and public participation in the decennial census.

Notice to Congress of Operation Design, Subjects, Types of Information and Questions

The 2020 Census IDEA Act prohibits the Secretary of Commerce from implementing any major operational design to the decennial census that have not been researched, studied, and tested for less than 3 years prior to census day.

Additionally, it prohibits any subject, type of information, or questions from being included on the questionnaire that were not submitted to Congress on the Census Bureau’s Decennial Census Subjects Report 3 years prior to census day.

Biannual Reports to Congress

The Secretary will be required to submit a biannual report to congress that describes each component of the operational plan for the subsequent decennial census and include detailed statements on the status of all research, testing and operations that are part of the bureau’s plan. This report will be published the Census Bureau’s website.

GAO Analysis

Before census day, GAO must certify that the subjects, types of information, and questions included on the census have been adequately researched, studied, and tested to the same degree as in previous censuses.

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