Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused President Trump of risking the accuracy of the census as part of an attempt to ensure GOP political control of the process that handles congressional redistricting.
In a joint letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Director of the U.S. Census Bureau Steven Dillingham, Pelosi and Schumer said that the Oct. 31 census deadline had abruptly been cut off to a new closing date of Sept. 30, in order to deliver apportionment data by the end of the year – a move that the Census Bureau warned against, saying the data “will be negatively impacted under this revised plan.”
The push to move up the date followed a request by Democrats to grant additional time for American’s to fill out their census in light of the coronavirus pandemic, extending the deadline into 2021.
SCHUMER SAYS GOP PLAN FOR CORONAVIRUS RELIEF IS ‘EMACIATED’ AS LAWMAKERS STRUGGLE TO REVIVE NEGOTIATIONS During an Aug. 5 meeting, Pelosi and Schumer said that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows informed them that the administration would refuse their deadline extension in order to prevent their control of congressional redistricting – despite Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin having said he would review the letter.
“In doing so, Mr. Meadows exposed the unspoken intentions of President Trump and his Administration – to intervene in and control the apportionment process while he is in office, rather than ensuring an accurate count for the American people, as required by the Constitution,” the Thursday letter said.
The Democratic leadership has asked that Ross and Dillingham provide “all documents and communications” between Census Bureau and the Commerce Department to explain the sudden reversal from the April decision to extend the deadline to the end of October.
The Sept. 30 closing date would allow apportionment data to be delivered by Dec. 31, when Trump will still be in office, whether or not he wins the Nov. 3 election.
An internal presentation by the Census Bureau “outlined the risks of the ‘highly compressed schedule’ and warned that data products ‘will be negatively impacted under this revised plan’,” noted the letter sent to Ross and Dillingham.
The presentation was never provided to Congress by the Trump administration.
Meadows reportedly assured Pelosi and Schumer that he could “ensure” a “99 percent accurate count” by the new deadline of Sept 30.
Meadows has not provided any evidence about why he is so confident in the accuracy of the census.
Pelosi and Schumer have further requested the administration provide “risk assessments, analyses, and operational plan alternatives” from the Census Bureau staffers, which shows the effects of speeding up field operations and processing time in order to get the apportionment data delivered by Dec. 31.
“Congress and the American people deserve answers on the reasons for this Administration’s sudden reversal on delaying Census operations during a pandemic to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the 2020 Census,” the Democratic leaders wrote.
The Democratic leadership has requested documents be in Congress’ hands by Sept. 17.