Following Reports Trump is Playing Politics with 2020 Census, Shaheen Calls on Census Bureau to Explain New Rushed Timeline

August 04, 2020

Shaheen is Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that Funds the U.S. Census Bureau

Just Last Month, Shaheen Sent a Bipartisan Letter to Census Director Raising Concerns of Political Interference at the Nonpartisan Agency in Response to Reports that the Trump Administration Transferred Political Appointees to the Census Bureau

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the U.S. Census Bureau, today called on the Bureau’s Director Stephen Dillingham to answer a series of questions to ensure the 2020 Census is completed fairly and accurately. Her letter comes in response to reports that the Trump administration is trying to rush execution of the Census for political purposes.

Just last month, Senator Shaheen sent a bipartisan letter with Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) – the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the U.S. Census Bureau – raising concerns of political impropriety after reports the Trump administration transferred political appointees to the nonpartisan agency.

In her letter today, Shaheen wrote, “I write to express my deep concern regarding the expedited schedule for the 2020 Decennial Census that puts the success of the Constitutionally-mandated count at risk.  On August 3, 2020, you announced that data collection operations will be reduced by a month and data processing operations will be compressed by several months in order to allow the Secretary of Commerce to transmit the apportionment counts to the president by December 31, 2020.  This announcement comes after it was previously reported that senior White House and Department of Commerce officials are trying to rush the execution of the 2020 Decennial Census for perceived political gain. This is unacceptable.” 

Senator Shaheen went on to cite comment from career Census Bureau experts who’ve raised serious concerns with accelerating data collection – particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic – stating, “It's going to be impossible to complete the count in time.  I'm very fearful we're going to have a massive undercount.”

Shaheen continued her letter by addressing other political efforts by the administration that would impede a fair and accurate Census count, including the President’s decision to exclude undocumented immigrants from the count, which would manipulate the Census for political gain. Shaheen closed her letter with a series of questions for the Bureau to address regarding the ramped up timeline, impact of COVID-19 and other serious issues that could threaten an accurate count. She requested that the Bureau respond by August 14th.

She concluded her letter, writing, “As I have said throughout this process, it is imperative that the Census counts every person in the United States, where they live.  We only have one chance to get this right.  I am deeply concerned about the recent announcement.  I expect that as the Census Director, you will uphold a complete and accurate count, free of political meddling.”

Senator Shaheen’s letter can be read in full here.