The Trump administration has moved to delay deadlines for the 2020 United States Census due to concerns over COVID-19.
The changes, requested by Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, would delay the deadline for delivering state population counts for apportionment from December 2020 to April 2021 and for giving states data for redistricting from the end of March 2021 to the end of July 2021. Because the deadlines are established by federal law, changes would have to be made with approval from Congress. Upon Congressional approval, some states would need to pass their own legislation to account for these delays.
According to Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY 12), who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, no representatives from the Census Bureau were on a call Monday morning that was organized by the White House. “Preventing the Census director from briefing the committee and then excluding him from a call organized by the White House are not encouraging moves,” she said.
Officials from the Census Bureau postponed all field operations for the massive national head count until June 1, with the final deadline for data collection pushed back to October 31, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Former Census Bureau director John Thompson noted that the timing of the census makes traditional in-person collections of questionnaires even more difficult: “If they start the census again too early, it’s going to be a disaster because you are going to get people sick, you’re not going to get people to respond.”
According to Dillingham and Ross’ statement, over 48% of American households have already responded to the Census. The Census is mandated by the Constitution and provides key data about population demographics and helps determine federal funding for schools, roads and fire departments. It also determines the number of seats each state has in the House and the borders of each congressional district.
“We need the Administration to cooperate with our requests [for more information] so we can make informed decisions on behalf of the American people,” said Rep. Maloney.
Sources: ABC 04/13/20; Politico 04/13/20; The Hill 04/13/20