July 2020 Census Project Update


July 2020 proved to be a busy month on many census issues, including funding! The Census Project followed deliberations regarding Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 as well as the next anticipated COVID relief package taking shape in the U.S. Senate.

Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations
On July 31, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by a vote of 217-197, H.R. 7617, a minibus funding bill that included seven annual appropriations bills, including the FY 2021 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Act, which funds the Census Bureau. The bill provides the Census Bureau with a total of $1,681,112,000, in line with the FY21 request from Census Project stakeholders, which is $9,135,000 above the President’s request.

Three census-related amendments were approved for floor consideration (see below). None of these amendments received a roll call vote; two of them were passed with other amendments grouped together in a series of larger “en bloc” amendments.

  • Horsford (D-NV): Nullifies the effect of the recent executive order that requires Federal agencies to share citizenship data. (Approved)
  • Meng (D-NY): Prohibits use of funds made available by this Act to implement, administer, or enforce the Presidential Memorandum on Excluding Illegal Aliens From the Apportionment Base Following the 2020 Census, issued on July 21, 2020. (Approved)
  • Gosar (R-AZ): Strikes a provision which prohibits the Bureau of the Census from using funds to produce any data product or tabulation based on data not collected in the census. (Rejected)

As a reminder, House action is only the first step in the FY 2021 appropriations process. Action on final FY 2021 funding bills (and a resolution on amendments and legislative language passed in the House), won’t come until much later in the year—potentially, not until after the November elections during an expected “lame duck” session. This means the odds of a short term Continuing Resolution with flatline funding are high. The U.S. Senate has still not agreed on a timeline for considering its FY 2021 bills. The Census Project will keep its network informed as action on the FY 2021 appropriations process unfolds. 

COVID Relief
On July 27, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled a legislative proposal, the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, which includes eight separate bills. The HEALS Act was offered as an alternative to COVID relief legislation, H.R. 6800, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act), that the U.S. House of Representatives passed in June. The HEALS package, which is comprised of eight separate bills, includes a provision that would provide the Census Bureau with $448 million to help offset pandemic-related expenses. Unlike the HEROES Act, the Senate proposal does not include language authorizing the Administration’s request to extend the 2020 Census statutory deadlines for reporting state population totals and redistricting data. As of the end of July, deliberations regarding the next COVID relief package were still ongoing. 

At the end of July, the White House Office of Management and Budget submitted a request to Congress for an additional $1 billion “to help the Census Bureau continue to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The request was comprised of several pieces, including $448 million for additional contingency funding. The proposed Senate mark in the HEALS package would support the contingency portion of the request, and not the remaining $550 million which the Bureau had requested for replacement hiring, pay incentives, and additional outreach. If the Senate mark is ultimately adopted, the Census Bureau would be expected to cover the remaining $500 million with resources in the 2020 Census contingency fund.

Policy Updates

Department of Commerce Requests Information Regarding Recent Census Appointees
On July 7, Department of Commerce Inspector General (IG) Peggy E. Gustafson sent a memo to Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham asking for additional information regarding recent political appointees at the Census Bureau, Dr. Nathaniel Cogley and Mr. Adam Korzeniewski. In her letter, the IG asked for information about their hiring, positions, and the expectations and goals associated with their jobs. The IG requested this information by July 20.

Presidential Memorandum Excluding Undocumented Immigrants from Apportionment
On July 21, President Trump issued a memorandum that would exclude undocumented immigrants from apportionment – the process by which the number of seats per state are determined. Numerous census stakeholders, including Common Cause and AAJC-Asian American Advancing Justice, immediately denounced the announcement and filed legal proceedings challenging it.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Holds Census Hearing
On July 29, the House OGR held a hearing on “Counting Every Person: Safeguarding the 2020 Census Against the Trump Administration’s Unconstitutional Attacks,” to discuss President Trump’s July 21 memorandum excluding undocumented immigrants from apportionment and to explore “other efforts to politicize the 2020 Census.” Witnesses included Census Bureau Director Dillingham and four former Census Bureau Directors.

Administration Reverses Course on 2020 Census Statutory Deadline Request
On July 31, the U.S. Census Bureau unveiled new operational plans to deliver state population totals to Congress by December 31, 2020. Previously, the Census Bureau had been asking, due to pandemic-related delays, that Congress approve legislation to extend the deadline for delivery of these data to April 30, 2021. Census stakeholders reacted urgently, expressing concern about the impact that abandoning plans to extend the 2020 Census operations and data delivery would have on the accuracy and inclusiveness of the decennial count.

Other Census News

  • The “success and accuracy of every census ultimately rests with participation,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK-04), and despite the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, “your engagement is critical and requires very little effort.”
  • Several Senate Democrats are urging Senate leaders to give the Census Bureau an extra $6 million – “$4 million for Demographic Surveys and $2 million for Economic Surveys” – to allow the continuation and expansion of the Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey and Household Pulse Survey (Pulse Surveys).
  • A recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) looked at how the Census Bureau will need to counter the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic in completing the 2020 Census.
  • Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) circulated an issue brief on the cost of census inaction.
  • The chairs of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the House Democratic Caucus released a staff report highlighting “the potential costs” of a 2020 Census “undercount for New York City” and stressing “the importance of New Yorkers completing their Census forms.”

Census Bureau News

July 31, Joint Statistical Meetings Virtual Conference
U.S. Census Bureau and researchers from across the nation will present research findings at the Joint Statistical Meetings Annual Virtual Conference Aug. 2 – 6.

July 30, Follow Up to Start With Nonresponding Households in Select Locations
The U.S. Census Bureau announced that it will begin following up with households in select areas that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census.

July 30, Statement on Complete Data Collection
The Census Bureau is working to complete data collection as soon as possible.

July 27, Census Bureau to Email Households
The U.S. Census Bureau announced that it will begin emailing households in low-responding areas to encourage them to respond to the 2020 Census.

July 22, Final 2020 Census Reminder Postcards
The U.S. Census Bureau is sending reminder postcards this week to an estimated 34.3 million households.

July 15, Follow Up With Nonresponding Households in Select Locations
The U.S. Census Bureau will begin following up with households in select areas that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census.

July 14, Mobile Questionnaire Assistance Launched to Help People Respond Online
U.S. Census Bureau staff will begin going into communities with the lowest 2020 Census response rates to encourage and assist people with responding.

July 14, Updates to 2020 Census Response Rate Challenge Toolkit
A new 2020 Census Response Rate Challenge Mini Guide geared toward helping local officials and leaders motivate their communities to respond to the 2020 Census.

July 8, Follow Up With Nonresponding Households in Select Locations
The U.S. Census Bureau announced that it will begin following up in select areas with households that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census.

July 1, 2020 Census Begins In-Person Count of People Living in Group Quarters
Group Quarters Enumeration is the special set of operations for counting people who live or stay in the estimated 250,000 group quarters facilities.

July 1, Census Bureau Resumes In-Person Interviews for Ongoing Surveys
The U.S. Census Bureau has resumed conducting in-person interviews associated with its ongoing household surveys in 21 states.

July 1, Census Takers to Start Follow Up With Nonresponding Households
Based on the current self-response rate of 61.8%, the Census Bureau estimates it will visit approx. 56 million addresses to collect responses in person.

Census Bureau Data Releases

July 29, U.S. Census Bureau Releases Household Pulse Survey Weekly Data
The Census Bureau released new data from the experimental Household Pulse Survey.

July 22, U.S. Census Bureau Releases Household Pulse Survey Weekly Data
The Census Bureau released new data from the experimental Household Pulse Survey.

July 16, Shipment of Goods Reached 12.5 Billion Tons and $14.5 Trillion
Trucks carried most of the load, hauling 70.9% of 2017 total tonnage.

July 15, U.S. Census Bureau Releases Household Pulse Survey Weekly Data
The Census Bureau released new data from the experimental Household Pulse Survey.

July 8, U.S. Census Bureau Releases Household Pulse Survey Weekly Data
The Census Bureau released new data from the experimental Household Pulse Survey.

July 7, Schedule for Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Statistics and ACS
Schedule for the 2019 income, poverty and health insurance coverage statistics and 2019 American Community Survey results.

News You Can Use

Below are several articles posted on The Census Project home page in July. For a complete listing, go to: https://thecensusproject.org/recent-media/.

With time extension stalled, Census speeds up count schedule
Associated Press
July 31, 2020

Fact-checking Stacey Abrams’ comparison of census response rates
July 31, 2020

Census Door Knocking Cut A Month Short Amid Pressure To Finish Count
July 30, 2020

Census director dodges legislators’ questions about Trump memo on undocumented residents
July 30, 2020

Trump is wrong on census memo — but has a point
The Hill
July 30, 2020

Officials share census message for military families: ‘You count here’
The Day
July 30, 2020

Census director says he learned of Trump citizenship move ‘when it was posted on the web’
The Hill
July 29, 2020

Can the Census Bureau actually meet Trump’s demand to identify noncitizens?
July 28, 2020

Rep. Tom Cole: Get counted
Indian Country Today
July 27, 2020

Trump faces multiple lawsuits over directive to exclude undocumented immigrants from representation
The Washington Post
July 24, 2020

How removing unauthorized immigrants from census statistics could affect House reapportionment
Pew Research Center
July 24, 2020

Trump signs order targeting undocumented immigrants in the US census
July 21, 2020

3 states agree to give I.D. data to Census Bureau
Associated Press
July 17, 2020

Census takers to visit homes that have not responded
Associated Press
July 15, 2020

Citing census delay, New Jersey looks to push legislative redistricting to 2023
Roll Call
July 10, 2020

Facing pressure, Census Bureau says it will clarify roles of 2 political appointees
Roll Call
July 9, 2020

How the Census Bureau is adapting to the pandemic
July 9, 2020