Shaheen, Senators Demand Answers from Census Bureau on How they Will Ensure Fair Count, Accurate Apportionment of Congressional Representation in 2020 Census

September 11, 2020

**Shaheen, the Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds the census, has been sounding the alarm on the Trump administration’s political attacks against the bureau that threaten a fair and accurate 2020 count**

(Washington, DC)– Yesterday, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) – the Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds the census – joined a group of lawmakers led by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) on a letter to the U.S. Census Bureau calling for more details on how they plan to use data from the 2020 Census to apportion congressional representation. This comes after multiple attempts by President Trump to interfere with the count for political purposes, as well as the limitations on conducting the census in full during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“With the president’s unconstitutional memorandum excluding undocumented people from apportionment, coupled with your agency’s decision to end the 2020 Census count one month early, we also raise serious concerns about a fair and accurate distribution of congressional representation,” the Senators wrote.

In their letter to Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham, the Senators requested answers on the data and methodologies that the bureau will use to decide how many members of the House of Representatives each state will receive in the 118th Congress. They highlighted concerns about how only certain states are sharing citizenship information and the data acquired could be inconsistent, unreliable, or incomplete—which may lead to an inaccurate distribution of congressional representation.

“The resulting reapportionment report submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives by the president will be an inaccurate, arbitrary, and unconstitutional distribution of congressional seats across the country,” the Senators continued.

Following the Senators’ letter yesterday, a federal circuit ruled against the Trump administration’s policy change to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census count.

In addition to Senators Shaheen and Schatz, the letter was signed by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).

The full text of the letter is available here. 

This letter follows a previous letter Shaheen sent to Dillingham in August, calling on him to answer a series of questions to ensure the 2020 Census is completed fairly and accurately. Her letter was in response to reports that the Trump administration is trying to rush execution of the Census for political purposes. In July, Senator Shaheen sent a bipartisan letter with Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) – the Chair of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds the census – raising concerns of political impropriety after reports the Trump administration transferred political appointees to the nonpartisan agency.

As the Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds the census, Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to secure a fair and accurate 2020 census and to hold the administration responsible for its destructive efforts to politicizes the census count. In August, Shaheen sent a letter with a group of Senators to congressional leadership urging them to include an extension of the census in upcoming COVID-19 relief.  Shaheen also sent a letter to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Commerce requesting an investigation into whether political pressure from the White House and Department of Commerce leadership led to the decision to shorten field data collection and self-response operations by a month. Additionally, Shaheen led a letter signed by all the Democrats on the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations subcommittee, calling for the Government Accountability Office to thoroughly assess and compile a report on the “completeness and quality” of the 2020 Census. The Government Accountability Office – which is an independent, non-partisan federal oversight agency – determined that the Trump administration’s rushed census reporting timeline threatens the accuracy of this year’s census count.