House Dem calls for markup on census bill to stop citizenship question

Source: The Hill

By Lydia Wheeler

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) is calling for lawmakers to markup legislation she’s offered to stop the Department of Commerce from adding a last minute question about citizenship to the 2020 Census. 

In a letter to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chair Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), Maloney said her bill — the 2020 Census Improving  Accuracy and Enhanced Data Act — would help mitigate concerns about the Trump administration’s commitment to fulfill its constitutional mandate and conduct a fair, equitable and complete count of the nation. 

Maloney’s bill comes after the Department of Commerce announced Monday that it was granting a request from the Department of Justice to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The new question comes despite outcry from Democrats and civil rights advocates, who warned it will skew the numbers and damage the accuracy of the census.

Administration officials have argued that citizenship data is needed to help DOJ better enforce the Voting Rights Act, but Democrats say it will likely discourage immigrants from filling out the questionnaire.

The outcome could have major political ramifications since the data is used to redraw House districts and determine how many seats each state receives.

The administration’s decision comes about a week before the final census questions due to be submitted to Congress.

Maloney called the administration’s timing greatly concerning.

“All census questions undergo an extensive screening process constituting years of focus groups and field tests to ensure a high response rate coupled with effective data collection,” she said in her letter to Gowdy. 

“Final census questions for the 2020 Decennial are due to be submitted to Congress by April 1, 2018, leaving insufficient time for testing and evaluation.” 

Maloney’s bill would strengthen congressional oversight, require every census to be adequately researched, tested and studied before census day and prohibit last minute changes without proper research.