Senate Appropriators Strongly Urged to Support House Level of Funding for 2020 Census in FY19 Appropriations

For Release:
June 5, 2018

WASHINGTON – As funding prospects for a full, fair and accurate 2020 national headcount improve, key stakeholders who closely monitor preparations for the Census wrote yesterday to Senate Appropriators urging them to keep pace with action in the House of Representatives at this critical moment in preparations. The broad-based network of business, civic, and academic groups told Chairman Moran and Vice Chairman Shaheen in their letter that the, “…House Appropriations Committee has prioritized funding for the Census Bureau in FY 2019, allocating $4.799 billion for the Census Bureau, almost $2 billion above the FY2018 appropriation, $999 million above the administration’s request, and almost $70 million more than census stakeholders recommended,” and urged them to match the House action.

The census experts shared with the Senate appropriators their view that, “…(t)he additional funding that the House Appropriations Committee recommended would allow the Bureau to initiate and expand other activities that have lingered as a result of recent budget cutbacks and delays. These activities would include increasing the number of partnership specialists or assistants from 1,000 to 2,000; expanding targeted advertising and promotion to hard-to-count communities as part of the Communications Campaign; and broadening the agency’s ‘field footprint’ through more local census offices or questionnaire assistance centers, thus, ensuring a greater presence in every region of the country in light of a lower projected self-response rate,” the letter said.

“It has been a head spinning change of fortune for the Census Bureau’s funding in the last few months compared to the previous eight years, and we thank the Congress for its collective action, but we cannot lose sight of the goal now. We are approaching the 11th hour in preparations that will soon scale up to the biggest peace time mobilization ever,” said Census Project Co-director Phil Sparks.

The letter stressed that, “…(t)he census is one of the federal government’s few constitutionally required activities and is the basis for apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Decennial census data are the foundation of our democracy, influencing a wide range of decisions in the private and public sectors. These decisions include the allocation of more than $800 billion in federal assistance annually, industry investments, and state and local government planning.”

“The current appropriation is a tiny investment to help secure the continuation of fair political representation for our democracy and the just allocation of federal tax dollars to states and localities,” said Mary Jo Hoeksema, co-director of the Census Project.

A full copy of the letter can be found here.