(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Jamie Raskin, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, sent a letter to the Census Bureau recognizing “Census Day,” pledging their support for ongoing Census operations, and pressing the Census Bureau to comply with outstanding oversight requests regarding delays caused by the coronavirus crisis.
“Today, we celebrate Census Day, the reference date for all the information collected in the 2020 Decennial Census,” Maloney and Raskin wrote. “This year’s Census comes at a perilous time for our nation, with a public health crisis upending daily life and creating unforeseen challenges to completing an accurate count of every person in the United States. We are writing today to express our unwavering commitment to, and support for, a complete and accurate Census.”
The Chairs urged families across the country to fill out their Census forms right now—in the comfort of their own homes—by going online, picking up the phone, or filling out the forms they received in the mail.
The Chairs also pressed the Bureau to provide information and a video briefing for Committee Members on the delays in Census operations caused by the coronavirus crisis. The Bureau has postponed crucial field operations by at least one month, delayed door-to-door counts of millions of individuals who do not self-respond, and deferred in-person counts of people experiencing homelessness and those living in group quarters, such as colleges or nursing homes.
The Census Bureau reports that about 36% of households have responded to the Census, but certain communities are responding at reduced rates. For example, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials found that online response rates in many heavily Latino communities have been lower than in other communities.
“We recognize that the Census Bureau faces significant challenges in completing the Census in the face of the coronavirus crisis,” Maloney and Raskin wrote. “However, as your Committee of jurisdiction, we play a critical role in overseeing the Bureau’s efforts. In order to fulfill our Constitutional responsibilities, we must have greater compliance from the Census Bureau with our outstanding oversight inquiries, especially during this critical and difficult period.”
On March 12, 2020, Maloney and Raskin sent a letter with Rep. José Serrano and Rep. David Price to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross requesting written answers to ten questions regarding disruptions to Census operations caused the coronavirus crisis. To date, the Census Bureau has not provided written responses to any of the Committee’s questions.
On March 23, 2020, staff requested a video briefing for Committee Members on the Census Bureau’s recently announced delays. Committee staff followed up repeatedly, but the Bureau has not agreed to schedule this briefing to date.
The Chairs asked for complete written responses to their questions by April 3, 2020, and a video briefing for Committee Members by April 6, 2020.
Click here to read today’s letter.