The League joined the Census Project on a letter extending statutory reporting deadlines for the Census. The letter addresses Senate leadership, and asks for a four month extension to allow the Census Bureau to execute a fair and accurate count. The letter asks Congress to remain on course with the extension in the newly introduced Senate COVID stimulus bills. Read the letter here.
August 6, 2020
The Honorable Mitch McConnell The Honorable Chuck Schumer
Majority Leader Minority Leader
United States Senate United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senators McConnell and Schumer,
We, the undersigned census stakeholders, are writing to urge you to include imperative language in the next Senate COVID relief package that would extend the statutory reporting deadlines for the 2020 Census by four months.
As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many facets of American life, including the 2020 Census. Earlier this year, the pandemic compelled the U.S. Census Bureau to suspend field activities and postpone key operations, including the critical Non-Response Follow Up (NRFU) phase in which census takers visit more than 30 percent of households that have not responded on their own, to collect information in person. Only weeks ago, senior expert career Census Bureau staff said unequivocally that they could not responsibly finish their work in time to complete the NRFU operation and compile, analyze, and disseminate apportionment data by the statutorily required December 31, 2020 deadline. Accordingly, the Secretary of Commerce wisely requested that Congress extend the reporting deadlines for apportionment and redistricting data, so that the Census Bureau could complete in-person visits and other special counting operations for the nonhousehold population (including people experiencing homelessness; people living in transitory locations such as RV parks and motels; and people living in group facilities such as nursing homes and college dorms) and deliver reliable apportionment and redistricting data to the Congress and states. Now the administration is suggesting that this painstaking work can be done by the legally required deadlines.
Unfortunately, a rushed census will harm every state. Currently, there are low response areas in every part of the country, in every state, in every city. If remaining counting operations are not done well, communities most in need of resources to improve quality of life and standards of living will get the short end of the stick for the next decade.
The decision to reverse course on the proposed extension was reportedly hastily developed at the White House and not by career professionals at the Census Bureau whose job it is to plan and execute a full, fair, and accurate count. A decision of this magnitude must not be politically motivated. It must be carried out to ensure that the decennial census is conducted in an impartial, exact manner. Likewise, Congress has a constitutional responsibility to ensure that the enumeration is conducted responsibly and delivers reliable data about our nation’s changing socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. Too much is at stake--the undercount of vulnerable populations such as young children, people in low-income communities (rural and urban), immigrants, American Indians and others; congressional representation; and the annual allocation of $1.5 trillion in federal funding to states and localities.
It is vital that we protect the 2020 Census from political interference. The House of Representatives has already approved an extension of the 2020 Census operations as part of its most recent COVID relief package. We urge the Senate to stay the course by agreeing to an extension provision in its next COVID relief package, so that the Census Bureau is not forced to rush remaining enumeration operations and critical data review, processing, and tabulation activities.
Thank you for your consideration of this request and for supporting the full and fair 2020 Census we all deserve and the Constitution requires.
See full list of national, state, and local signers attached