Sarbanes Joins Effort to Boost Support for 2020 Census Amid COVID-19

Members Urge Congressional Leaders Provide the U.S. Census Bureau with the Time and Resources It Needs to Ensure a Complete and Accurate Count
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 6, 2020
CONTACT: Daniel Jacobs
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today joined House Democrats in calling on Congressional Leadership to commit additional resources and support to ensure a complete and accurate count in the 2020 Census.

“As our country continues to navigate the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that we prioritize the implementation of a complete and accurate Census,” the lawmakers wrote. “Census operations have been delayed and disrupted to protect the health and safety of census workers and communities… While the Census Bureau has made an incredible push to encourage self-response online, by phone and by mail, there is still a large need for in-person census operations.”

The lawmakers continued: “Without an extension, some populations will remain uncounted or will not be counted accurately, impacting all of our districts and communities…. Further, a poorly executed census would hurt a diverse range of rural and urban communities, impact congressional representation and cut federal funding for services like schools, infrastructure improvements, economic development, Medicaid and countless other vital programs.”

The lawmakers concluded: “Any congressional response to help the Census Bureau complete the 2020 Census amidst continued COVID-19 surges and lagging household response rates should be guided by experts and scientists at the Census Bureau. Census Bureau staff have stated that they need additional time to complete the census in all communities, and to process and tabulate the data in accordance with the Bureau’s quality standards…. Communities and census workers deserve the time needed to produce a complete count.”

See below for a full copy of the letter.

* * *
August 6, 2020

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Republican Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Minority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
 

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, and Leader McCarthy:

As our country continues to navigate the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that we prioritize the implementation of a complete and accurate Census. Census operations have been delayed and disrupted to protect the health and safety of census workers and communities. There was previously bipartisan agreement to delay the census count deadline, and we are concerned that support is shifting. Therefore, we request that the next COVID-19 relief package incorporate the request from the Secretary of Commerce and Census Director to extend statutory reporting deadlines for apportionment and redistricting data and allocate $400 million to address continued 2020 Census challenges and modify the deadline to transmit state population totals to April 30, 2021.

While the Census Bureau has made an incredible push to encourage self-response online, by phone and by mail, there is still a large need for in-person census operations. American taxpayers have already spent almost $16 billion on the 2020 Census, yet about 37 percent of households remain uncounted. This uncounted population includes some of the hardest-to-reach populations such as rural communities, low income households, people of color, American Indians living on tribal lands, immigrants and young children. In addition, the Bureau must still count people who do not live in traditional housing units, including people experiencing homelessness and people living in transitory locations, such as RV parks and in group facilities, such as nursing homes and college dorms. The Census Bureau’s associate director for field operations, Tim Olson, has stated that the Bureau has "passed the point where we could even meet the current legislative requirement of Dec. 31" for reporting apportionment counts.

Without an extension, some populations will remain uncounted or will not be counted accurately, impacting all of our districts and communities. An accurate census count is critical for both Republican and Democratic districts – and rural districts may suffer tremendously without. Further, a poorly executed census would hurt a diverse range of rural and urban communities, impact congressional representation and cut federal funding for services like schools, infrastructure improvements, economic development, Medicaid and countless other vital programs. In fact, an accurate census is more important now than ever, as our nation continues to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Current pandemic relief funds have been allocated based upon 2010 census data, and a complete and accurate count in 2020 will ensure that pandemic recovery funding and other resources, such as medical equipment, are directed to where they are most needed in the coming years.

Any congressional response to help the Census Bureau complete the 2020 Census amidst continued COVID-19 surges and lagging household response rates should be guided by experts and scientists at the Census Bureau. Census Bureau staff have stated that they need additional time to complete the census in all communities, and to process and tabulate the data in accordance with the Bureau’s quality standards. The Census Bureau has developed a thorough adjusted plan in light of COVID-related disruptions, in partnership with local officials and nearly 400,000 partner organizations. This will allow the Census Bureau to continue household counting operations through October 31, complete special counting operations thoroughly, and review, process, and tabulate the data in accordance with the Bureau’s own quality standards. Communities and census workers deserve the time needed to produce a complete count.
 

Sincerely,

/signatures

###