October 2018 Census Project Update

Appropriations on Hold/Next Steps

As a reminder, Congress has not acted yet on the Fiscal Year 2019 Commerce, Science, Justice (CJS) appropriations bill, which funds the Census Bureau. The Bureau is currently operating under the terms of continuing resolution, which expires December 7. Congress expects to address the CJS bill, along with other remaining spending measures, when it returns the week of November 12. Plans call for pairing the CJS bill with the Homeland Security and State-Foreign appropriations bills as a minibus measure. The Homeland Security measure is especially controversial given it funds border security and the Administration’s border wall proposal—a major presidential priority. As a result, there is widespread concern and speculation that the minibus spending bill containing the CJS, Homeland Security, and State-Foreign Operations bills may not be enacted and lead to a partial government shutdown in December.

To address this issue and raise concerns about the implications of a government shutdown for the Census Bureau, The Census Project Co-Directors recently sent a letter to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney, expressing support for sustaining decennial census operations if a partial government shutdown occurs.

“The Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which funds the Census Bureau, is one of the remaining unresolved Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 appropriations bills,” states a letter from the Census Project to Mick Mulvaney, the director of the federal Office of Management and Budget. Therefore, The Census Project letter continues, “given the uncertainty surrounding the final FY 2019 CJS deliberations, and the delicate, consequential state of Census 2020 preparations, we encourage you to exercise your authority and ensure uninterrupted funding for the Census Bureau if a partial government shutdown occurs.”

Complete Count Efforts Underway in the States and Communities

Across the country some states and communities are gearing up to encourage their local populations to participate in the 2020 Census count with local dollars behind the effort. But the effort, so far, is spotty.

Stateline traces national activity and noted the state of California has already funded tens of millions of dollars for its own in-state outreach. Another article, published by Reuters, adds additional detail to these efforts.

Meanwhile, in Houston, similar outreach is already underway.

Dillingham Nomination

The U.S. Senate adjourned earlier than expected, forcing the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to postpone its originally scheduled October 15 business meeting at which it was planning to vote on Dr. Dillingham’s nomination. The Committee is expected to act on his nomination when Congress reconvenes in mid-November. The delay gives committee staff additional time to review Dr. Dillingham’s responses to written questions he submitted prior to and after his October 3 confirmation hearing. The full Senate may vote on the Dillingham nomination in November when Congress returns.

Citizenship Question Trial Scheduled to Begin on November 5

Barring action by the Supreme Court, the lead suit challenging the proposed action by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census form will begin in New York’s district court on November 5.

Although the Supreme Court has prohibited attorneys representing 18 state attorneys general and numerous cities from directly questioning Secretary Ross, other Administration officials have been required to be deposed in pre-trial testimony.

Finally, The Washington Post in a scathing recent editorial criticized both Secretary Ross and the Administration for proposing the citizenship question in March.

Background Information on Rural Report/2020 Census

On October 11, the Census Project co-sponsored a briefing on Capitol Hill for the Congressional Rural Caucus.

The Congressional aides were briefed on the recently released report from George Washington University linking $25 billion per year in federal aid to rural areas and the fairness and accuracy of the 2020 Census.

George Washington’s Dr. Andrew Reamer prepared slides especially for the session.

Finally, Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality prepared two fact sheets on the rural report for the Congressional briefing.

Census Bureau Reopens Public Comment Period

The Census Bureau is conducting a comprehensive review of the decennial data products in preparation for the 2020 Census. “It seeks feedback to understand how the public uses decennial census data products” a Federal Register notice says.

Further, the Bureau has extended the public comment period on this important decision to November 8.

News You Can Use

The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research recently held a half-day symposium titled “2020 Census: Citizenship, Science, Politics and Privacy.”

The forum speakers included U.S. Senator Gary Peters, Census Bureau officials and several other census experts.