Senators: Census Should Stay on Schedule, Omit Citizenship Question
US Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) led a group of 28 senators, calling for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to meet the administration’s previously set deadline of July 1 to begin printing materials for the 2020 Census and move forward without adding a politically motivated question about citizenship.
Their call on June 28, 2019, comes a day after the US Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration’s rationale for adding the question “appears to have been contrived.” President Trump also announced on Twitter yesterday that he had asked his lawyers to delay the Census.
“By continuing to pursue the citizenship question, you will further delay and jeopardize the Census Bureau’s ability to conduct a full, fair, and accurate decennial census as required by the US Constitution and the Census Act,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to stop all efforts to add a citizenship question and allow the Census Bureau to proceed with preparation for a 2020 census without a citizenship question on the questionnaire.”
Joining Sen. Schatz are US Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).
This letter follows previous efforts led by Sen. Schatz to push back against Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’s decision to add the citizenship question to the Census. Schatz had previously led a group of 20 senators in writing to the Commerce Department’s inspector general asking for a review of the last-minute addition of the question. He also led a bicameral group of over 30 current and former members of Congress on an amicus brief to Supreme Court supporting a lawsuit to stop the question from being added.
The full text of the letter:
Dear Secretary Ross:
In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Department of Commerce v. New York State, we urge you to uphold the rule of law and respect the Court’s decision. By continuing to pursue the citizenship question, you will further delay and jeopardize the Census Bureau’s ability to conduct a full, fair, and accurate decennial census as required by the U.S. Constitution and the Census Act. We urge you to stop all efforts to add a citizenship question and allow the Census Bureau to proceed with preparation for a 2020 census without a citizenship question on the questionnaire.
As a constitutionally mandated activity, the decennial census is a cornerstone of our democracy. We have one chance to get the count right and must complete the task on time to meet constitutional and legal requirements for congressional apportionment and redistricting. The 2020 Census is less than half a year away, and any unnecessary delay in operations would impact the ability of the Census Bureau to count every person in our country. We urge you to remove the citizenship question, and we look forward to your response.