New Bipartisan Bills Could Save the 2020 Census

2020 Census News 09.15,20

Bills would extend time for counting and reporting data, prevent rushed operations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Tamika Turner, [email protected], 419-913-8088

WASHINGTON — Following the introduction of bicameral, bipartisan legislation by U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), as well as U.S. Reps. Don Young (R-Alaska) and Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona), to give the U.S. Census Bureau the time it needs to complete an accurate 2020 Census and ensure millions of people are not erased from our national portrait, Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, released the below statement: 

“We applaud this bipartisan effort to save the 2020 Census, because a failed census fails the whole nation. Forcing the Census Bureau to cut corners jeopardizes the accuracy of the data that local officials, businesses, government agencies, and advocates will rely on to recover from the pandemic, recession, and natural disasters.  Every state and community would have to make compromised decisions for the next 10 years if the count is rushed and unfinished. An accurate 2020 Census is in Congress’ hands, and lawmakers have to act fast to ensure the census is a true portrait of America.” 

BACKGROUND

Recognizing the urgent need to extend counting operations, as well as the reporting deadlines for the 2020 Census, more than 200 national and state organizations have endorsed the bill, including The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, AARP, American Library Association, Center for Disability Rights, Feeding America, National Association of Counties, National Congress of American Indians, National League of Cities, National Rural Education Association, and United States Conference of Mayors. In addition, many individuals and organizations have spoken out against rushing the census, including the Census Counts campaign coalition, business leaders, former Census Bureau directors, and editorial boards across the country.

Without quick congressional action, the Census Bureau faces an impossible deadline of December 31, 2020 to count, review, process, tabulate, and report 2020 Census apportionment and redistricting data. Congress must act before it’s too late. 

  • In a bid to control how congressional apportionment is calculated, the Trump administration has abandoned its original request that Congress grant the Census Bureau a reporting extension and is forcing the bureau to cut the census short by one month.
  • The House-passed HEROES Act already moved to extend these deadlines to protect the census and our democracy, and now the Senate must act to protect the census and our democracy by giving the Census Bureau the time and flexibility it needs to complete the 2020 Census.
  • If the Census Bureau continues data collection through October 31, but Congress does not push back the statutory reporting deadlines, the Census Bureau simply cannot process the data within any acceptable data quality standards in two months.

Rushing the census puts the accuracy of 2020 Census data at risk. This would skew congressional representation, redistricting, and critical funding for every state in the country.

  • At a July 8 press briefing, Census Bureau Associate Director Al Fontenot stated unequivocally that, due to COVID-19, it was too late for the Census Bureau to finish census operations well and report initial results by the current statutory deadline of December 31, 2020.
  • Earlier this month, an internal Census Bureau document was released that warned that a rushed census could create “serious errors” in the data if the Census Bureau is forced to complete its count under the current statutory deadlines.
  • Forcing the Census Bureau to rush the census in the middle of a pandemic is part of an intentional plot to sabotage the census to reflect a less diverse and inaccurate portrait of America. A rushed census shortchanges critical operations that count millions of people of color, American Indians, low-income people, and people experiencing homelessness.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.