Oversight Committee Introduces Fair and Accurate Census Act

May 27, 2020
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Today, Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Committee Vice Chairman Jimmy Gomez, Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee Chairman Jamie Raskin, and Committee Member John Sarbanes issued the following statements after introducing legislation to support a fair and accurate 2020 Census in light of the delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic:

“The Fair and Accurate Census Act provides the Census Bureau with the authority and tools to navigate the obstacles of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Chairwoman Maloney.  “It implements a request by the Trump Administration to extend several key deadlines, and it also ensures greater transparency with Congress and allows the Bureau to focus on achieving a successful Census without unnecessary distractions or diversion of resources.” 

“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, extending our nation’s 2020 Census operations is a safe and essential step in ensuring all communities are represented and accurately counted,” said Vice Chairman Gomez.  “We simply cannot allow an undercount of our communities to result in millions of lost federal funding to support small businesses, schools, healthcare systems, and other critical services and resources. There is far too much at stake – especially for hard-to-count communities in Los Angeles and across the country – to leave the U.S. Census Bureau unchecked. Through the Fair and Accurate Census Act, we can help provide much-needed oversight of the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure a fair and accurate count where everyone has a voice in our democracy.”

“The coronavirus has created significant challenges to carrying out the decennial Census,” said Chairman Connolly. “The Fair and Accurate Census Act will provide flexibility and transparency to ensure a fair and complete count.”

“I’m delighted to introduce the Fair and Accurate Census Act with my Oversight colleagues,” said Chairman Raskin. “Congress has a responsibility to uplift the Census and this legislation will enable us to meet the challenges of the ongoing public health emergency by extending key deadlines and ensuring the Census Bureau has the resources necessary for capturing a full and fair count.”

“Across the country, states like Maryland depend on an accurate decennial census to allocate critical federal resources and ensure fair representation for our communities,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “Compounding the Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine the 2020 Census, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented several obstacles to the Census Bureau as it aims to reach each and every community in the country. This new federal effort will help provide the Bureau with the flexibility and accountability needed to ensure an accurate count.”

The Fair and Accurate Census Act will:

  • modify 2020 Census apportionment and redistricting data delivery deadlines at the request of the Administration and to ensure data accuracy;
  • require the Census Bureau to submit monthly operational and technological status reports to Congress;
  • allow colleges and universities to provide necessary data to the Census Bureau; and
  • ensure the Census Bureau has adequate resources to achieve a complete and accurate count.

In March 2020, the Census Bureau announced initial delays due to coronavirus.  Although the Committee asked for operational updates from the Bureau, the Bureau did not provide updates to the Committee, and the Administration did not reply to multiple requests about the Bureau’s plans to execute the Census amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In April 2020, the Administration announced that it would delay key operations further, extending the timeframe for data collection to October 31, 2020.

As a result, the bill promotes greater cooperation and transparency with Congress in order to ensure that the Bureau can successfully execute a fair and accurate 2020 Census for the American people.

This bill also addresses issues identified during a Member briefing with Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham and senior Census officials, as well as Secretary Ross’s and the Trump Administration’s requests for Congress to delay key statutory deadlines. 

Click here to read the Fair and Accurate Census Act.

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