The Census Bureau plans to announce that it will miss a year-end deadline for submitting numbers on the allocation of congressional seats. This could undermine President Donald Trump’s efforts to illegally exclude people in the country from the census if the numbers are not submitted prior to President-elect Joe Biden taking office.
It is the first time the December 31 target has not been met since the deadline was set by Congress more than four decades ago. A census officer who was not empowered to speak publicly on the matter confirmed the delay to the Associated Press on Wednesday.
Internal documents received from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform earlier this month indicate that Census Bureau officials do not see the allocation numbers as ready until days after Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
Once in office, Biden was able to overturn Trump’s presidential memorandum instructing the Census Bureau to illegally exclude people in the country from numbers used in the allocation of congressional seats among states. An influential GOP adviser had advocated banning them from the allocation process in order to benefit Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.
“The delay suggests that the census bureau may need more time to ensure that the census figures are accurate for all states,” said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former congressman who specializes in census issues.
By law, the Department of Commerce is required to provide the President with the 2020 census population, which determines how many seats in Congress each state will have by the end of the year. The President must then send the numbers to Congress in early January. The Department of Commerce oversees the Census Bureau, which conducts the number of US-based employees once a decade.
However, there are no penalties for missing the deadline.
“For the Census Bureau, Goals # 1, 2, and 3 are completeness, accuracy, and usefulness. They like to stick to the schedule, but that may not be a priority for them,” said Kenneth Prewitt, former director of the Census Bureau Government of the President Bill Clinton.
In addition to deciding how many residences each state will have, the census is used to determine how $ 1.5 trillion in federal funding is distributed annually.
Trump’s July apportionment order was challenged in more than half a dozen lawsuits in the U.S., but the Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that any challenge was premature, allowing the plan to move forward. The Census Bureau has not publicly announced how it plans to determine who is illegally in the country since the Supreme Court banned a citizenship question from being included in the census questionnaire last year.
After the pandemic caused the Census Bureau to cease field operations in the spring and recruitment bottlenecks developed, the Bureau of Statistics asked Congress for extensions, including an extension that would extend the deadline for submitting allocation numbers from the end of the year to the next Spring.
At the time, Trump said, “This is called an act of God. This is called a situation that has to be. You have to give it.”
The request passed the Democratic-controlled house but went nowhere in the Republican-controlled Senate after Trump issued his order.
A coalition of local authorities and stakeholders sued the Trump administration after changing the schedule again to cut field operations by a month and return by December 31 to file allocation numbers. Plaintiffs argued the census was truncated by the Commerce Department so the census data had not yet been collected during Trump’s tenure, and they said this would result in minorities being undercounted.
They also feared that the abbreviated field operations and data processing would jeopardize the accuracy and completeness of the census. The bureau’s statisticians only got half the originally scheduled time to get the numbers, and Steven Dillingham, director of the Census Bureau, said last month that the bureau’s statisticians had found anomalies in the 2020 data that surfaced in previous censuses were.
The Census Bureau’s surveillance authority said Wednesday it was concerned about quality control errors aimed at detecting counterfeits by census participants. The inspector general’s office said the Census Bureau failed to conduct 355,000 re-interviews of households to verify that their information was correct.
Even senior officials at the Census Bureau internally questioned whether they could meet the December 31st deadline. Deputy Director Tim Olson said in an email to colleagues that anyone who believed the census numbers could be cracked by the end of the year had either a spiritual or a political lack of motivation. “The email was revealed in litigation.
A deadline for submitting allotment numbers is less than a century old – a by-product of the refusal of a Republican-controlled Congress to redistribute itself after the 1920 census for fear of shifting political power from rural areas to cities where Immigrants and other lives had settled. In the first 14 censuses of the country’s 24 employees, the US made it without a deadline, said Margo Anderson, a historian at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
“It was not very controversial until this year, the year of a pandemic, the Trump administration’s goals and efforts to get the undocumented out of the apportionment census,” Anderson said. “You’re still trying to wrestle the numbers into something that looks right.”