June 2019 Census Project Update

Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations

On June 25, 2019, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3055, a “minibus” of five appropriations bills, including its version of the Fiscal Year 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) appropriations bill, which, among other federal agencies, funds the United States Census Bureau. It passed by a 227-194 vote.

The bill provides $8.45 billion for the Census Bureau, of which $7.5 billion is slated for the 2020 Census, just as more than 125 Census Project stakeholder groups urged in a June 17 letter.

During floor debate, the House considered several amendments of interest to census stakeholders:

  • Steve King (R-IA-04) offered an amendment to delete a provision (section 534 of Division A) in H.R. 3055 precluding the Bureau from using funds to add any question to the 2020 Census that was not included in the 2018 End-to-End Census Test (thus prohibiting the proposed citizenship question). The King amendment failed by a 192-240 vote, including six GOP Members votes against it (Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25), Sean P. Duffy (R-WI-7), Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR), Will Hurd (R-TX-23), Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), and Chris Smith (R-NJ-04)).
  • An amendment from Reps. Jason Crow (D-CO-06) and Veronica Escobar (D-TX-16), ensuring that confidentiality protections and penalties for unauthorized disclosure of census data under the Census Act (Title 13 U.S. Code) apply to data the Census Bureau obtains through administrative record transfers from other agencies, passed by voice vote.
  • Another amendment from Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY-09), similarly ensuring that the Bureau abides by the Census Act’s confidentiality provisions, passed by voice vote.

The Statement of Administration Policy on the legislation, threatening a Presidential veto, highlighted opposition to the census funding levels and the bill’s prohibition on funding the citizenship question.

The Senate CJS subcommittee hasn’t yet announced a date for considering its version of the FY 2020 CJS bill. House, Senate and White House negotiators have yet to agree on a deal regarding the budget spending caps set by the Budget Control Act, which has delayed the appropriations process in the Senate. The House bill presumes that the $7.5 billion for the 2020 Census is not subject to those budget caps.

Citizenship Question

On June 27, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Commerce Department’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. In a 5-4 decision led by Chief Justice John Roberts, in the case of U.S. Department of Commerce v. State of New York, the court ruled against the addition, rejecting the Department’s rationale that the question is necessary to enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Delaying the 2020 Census?

After the Supreme Court ruling on the citizenship question came out, President Donald Trump responded with the suggestion that the 2020 Census be delayed, “no matter how long,” so that the Administration could relitigate the case.

The Census Project responded that America has never in its history delayed or cancelled the decennial census, and there is no good reason to start now.

The White House apparently agreed, disclosing on July 2 that the Department of Commerce would no longer pursue the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census and the headcount would move ahead as scheduled.

News You Can Use

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

Recent Media

A Short History of Census Taking
Wall Street Journal
June 28, 2019

Why the Trump Administration Is Running Out of Time to Print the Census
The New York Times
June 27, 2019

Cloud security weaknesses put 2020 census prep at ‘potentially catastrophic risk’
June 24, 2019

Unconventional Housing, Fear of Eviction Challenge Bay Area Census Efforts
June 21, 2019

Pritzker signs order to jump-start 2020 census outreach
The State Journal-Register
June 20, 2019

Census, tribal leaders push for American Indian participation in 2020 Census
The Washington Post
June 14, 2019

California Boosts Outreach Efforts for 2020 Census
U.S. News & World Report
June 10, 2019

The 2020 Census hiring spree has yet to show up
CNN Business
June 7, 2019

Watchdog finds Census lacks ‘key’ risk information for 2020
Federal Times
June 5, 2019

Citizenship question

How the Fight Over the Census Citizenship Question Could Rage On
June 29, 2019

House Democrats to Continue Census Probe
Roll Call
June 28, 2019

Emails Connect Census Official With GOP Strategist On Citizenship Question
June 15, 2019

Census citizenship question will hurt Minnesota businesses
Star Tribune
June 18, 2019

Why Trump Lost the Census Case
National Review
June 27, 2019