Sen. Schatz Introduces ‘Census IDEA Act’
Sen. Brian Schatz introduced the Census Improving Data and Enhanced Accuracy (Census IDEA) Act on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, legislation that would protect the accuracy of the 2020 census and ensure any proposed changes to the count are properly studied, researched and tested.
“The leadership at the Commerce Department has not been on the level about the census,” Sen. Schatz said. “We saw with the citizenship question that presidential appointees are eager to politicize this Constitutionally mandated process. It’s a sad state of affairs that we even need a bill to protect the census from unlawful political interference, but clearly it is needed.”
Last year, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross proposed a new addition to the census that would likely influence the accuracy of the survey. Without proper studies and testing, last-minute changes or additions, such as the one currently being proposed, may discourage people from being counted and may not result in an accurate population count as mandated by the Constitution.
In addition to Schatz, the legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
The Census IDEA Act would:
- Prevent last-minute operational changes that have not been properly researched, studied, and tested at least three years prior to the next decennial census date;
- Ensure that subjects, types of information, and questions that have not been submitted to Congress according to existing law are not included;
- Require biannual reports on the U.S. Census Bureau’s operation plan, including the status of its research and testing; a report on the agency’s operational plan five years prior to the next decennial census; and require that these reports be publicly available on the Bureau’s website;
- Direct the U.S. Government Accountability Office to determine and report to Congress that the subjects, types of information, and questions on the decennial census have been researched, studied, and tested to the same degree as previous decennial censuses; and
- Apply the provisions of this bill only to the decennial census, and not the mid-decade census or the American Community Survey.
The Census IDEA Act is supported by the American Anthropological Association, American Civil Liberties Union, American Sociological Association, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Coalition on Human Needs, Common Cause, Consortium of Social Science Associations, Japanese American Citizens League, NAACP LDF, NALEO Educational Fund, National Education Association, National Employment Law Project, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, National Urban League, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Service Employees International Union, Society for Research in Child Development and Union of Concerned Scientists.