Rep. Maloney Introduces Bill to Protect 2020 Census, Prohibit Citizenship Question

Jan 23, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), co-chair of the House Census Caucus, today introduced legislation to block the citizenship question from appearing on the 2020 Census. The Census IDEA Act mandates a three-year review process for each question proposed to the decennial census. This would prohibit the Trump Administration’s planned citizenship question and ensure that all lines of inquiry undergo proper vetting and testing before being added to the 2020 Census.

 “The Census affects the very core of our democracy and how we decide representation in every level of government and that is why we cannot allow it to be manipulated for partisan political purposes with this citizenship question,” said. Rep. Maloney. “While I am confident of our chances in court after last week’s resounding decision directing the Administration to remove the question, I believe Congress must also act to protect the 2020 Census. The census is a scientific undertaking that needs to be free from political manipulation so that the data is accurate and truly representative of the makeup of our country. The Census IDEA Act will help make sure that happens and keep the citizenship question out of the 2020 Census.”

The bill is endorsed by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States; the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund; Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC); the Population Association of America.

“Congress has a constitutional responsibility to ensure a fair and accurate census, so that all communities receive their fair share of resources for schools, health centers, highways, and other vital services,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “This bill protects the integrity of the census by prohibiting the inclusion of any untested question, like the citizenship question, from being included in the 2020 Census. The Leadership Conference urges lawmakers to pass this bill quickly, to lift the cloud of uncertainty that is putting a successful census in jeopardy.”

“Given the importance of Census 2020 in distributing billions of dollars in federal funding and the allocation of political power to communities across the country for the next 10 years, we cannot afford to have millions of Latinos and other Americans missed in the nation’s decennial count,” stated Arturo Vargas, CEO of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. “While Judge Furman’s ruling this week marked an important legal victory for advocates, we know this issue is far from settled in the courts.  The clock is ticking.  It is time for Congress to take swift action and provide the U.S. Census Bureau with the clarity it needs to execute the 2020 Census by removing the citizenship question once and for all.”

Congresswoman Maloney last year led an Amicus Brief in support of a lawsuit, led by the state of the New York, against the Trump Administration in objection to the citizenship question. A US District Court Judge ruled that the Administration must remove the question. The decision is being appealed.


The 2020 Census IDEA Act would ensure that every decennial census is adequately researched, tested, and studied, to ensure the accuracy of the final product, and would strengthen congressional oversight regarding last-minute changes.

The bill would:

  • Prohibit last-minute operational changes without proper research, studying, and testing
  • Ensure that subjects, types of information, and questions that have not been submitted to Congress according to existing law are not included;
  • Require biannual reports on the U.S. Census Bureau’s operation plan, including the status of its research and testing, and would require that this report be publicly available on the Bureau’s website;
  • Direct the U.S. Government Accountability Office to determine and report to Congress that the subjects, types of information, and questions on the decennial census have been researched, studied, and tested to the same degree as previous decennial census;
  • Apply the provisions of this bill only to the decennial census, and not the mid-decade census or the American Community Survey.