House Appropriations Committee Approves Fiscal Year 2021 Census Funding Bill

On Tuesday, July 14, the House Appropriations Committee, by a vote of 30-22, passed its version of the Fiscal Year 2021 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which, among other things, funds the U.S. Census Bureau. The bill provides a total of $1,681,112,000 for the Bureau of the Census, which is $9,135,000 above the Administration’s request. The amount, which reflects The Census Project’s recommendation, will support the ramp down of the 2020 Census, funding portions of its operations into the first quarter of FY 2021, and restore the Administration’s proposed funding cut to the Survey of Income and Program Participation. 

The bill includes language precluding the Bureau from using funds to compile the Administration’s proposed citizen voting age population file. Another provision in the bill caps the number of political and presidential appointees in the Census Bureau to no more than five—a direct response to recent political appointments at the agency. In a report accompanying the bill, the Bureau is asked to conduct “a feasibility study on including a race category for individuals who identify as Middle East or North African.” The agency is also told that the Committee expects questions on sexual orientation and gender identity to be “examined for possible inclusion” in the 2030 Census. Other notable provisions direct the Bureau to “provide updates on a semi-annual basis on language assistance programs for the American Community Survey (ACS),” and to “prioritize cyber protections and high standards of data differential privacy, while also maintaining the accuracy of the data” and to regularly update the Committee on these efforts. With respect to funding for the 2020 Census, the Committee rejects the Administration’s proposal to transfer $208 million in 2020 Decennial funds to support other FY 2021 activities, including the reconfiguration of its headquarters to accommodate the relocation of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The bill will be merged with other appropriations bills as part of a minibus funding measure that the House of Representatives is expected to consider before it adjourns in early August.