Jayapal Leads 88 Members of Congress in Demanding That the Next Relief Package Extends Census Deadlines and Invests $400 Million Into Addressing COVID-Related Census Challenges
SEATTLE—United States Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and 88 members of Congress urgently called on House and Senate leadership to ensure that the next COVID-19 relief package extends the Census reporting deadlines and allocates $400 million to address the continued challenges of conducting a complete and accurate Census during a pandemic. The letter—written to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23)—also calls on extending the household counting operations through October 31, 2020 and modifying the deadline to transmit state population totals to April 30, 2021. The letter follows a previous bipartisan agreement to delay the census count deadline and a recent announcement by the Census Bureau to suddenly end field data collection by September 30, which would have devastating long-term impacts on communities across this country.
“Rushing census operations without an extension means that 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. 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 89 lawmakers wrote in their letter. “Extending the statutory deadline 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.”
Census operations have been delayed and disrupted to protect the health and safety of census workers and communities amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The lawmakers’ letter follows a statement by the Census Bureau’s Associate Director for Field Operations, Tim Olson, that said the Bureau had passed the point where the current reporting deadline of December 31 could be successfully met.
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, an estimated 37 percent of households currently 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.
Four former U.S. Census Bureau Directors called upon Congress to extend the deadline, saying that, “failing to extend the deadlines to April 30, 2021 will result in seriously incomplete enumerations in many areas across the country.” In fact, Census Bureau staff previously stated that they needed additional time to complete the census in all communities, and to process and tabulate the data. The Census Bureau even went as far as to develop a thoroughly adjusted plan in light of COVID-related disruptions, in partnership with local officials and nearly 400,000 partner organizations. In a parallel effort to the 89 lawmakers, nearly 900 groups also joined together today to call on Congressional leadership to include language in the next relief package that would extend reporting deadlines by four months.
Today’s letter was signed by United States Representatives Pramila Jayapal, Colin Allred, Karen Bass, Ami Bera, Sanford Bishop, Jr., Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, G.K. Butterfield, Tony Cárdenas, André Carson, Ed Case, Judy Chu, David Cicilline, Yvette Clarke, TJ Cox, Henry Cuellar, Sharice Davids, Danny David, Peter DeFazio, Suzan DelBene, Mark DeSaulnier, Debbie Dingell, Veronica Escobar, Adriano Espaillat, Dwight Evans, Bill Foster, Ruben Gallego, John Garamendi, Jesús “Chuy” García, Sylvia Garcia, Raúl Grijalva, Deb Haaland, Alcee Hastings, Denny Heck Brian Higgins, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Henry Johnson, Jr., Marcy Kaptur, Robin Kelly, Ro Khanna, Ann Kirkpatrick, Raja Krishnamoorthi, James Langevin, Rick Larsen, John Larson, Barbara Lee, Andy Levin, Ted Lieu, Alan Lowenthal, Stephen Lynch, Doris Matsui, Betty McCollum, A. Donald McEachin, James McGovern, Jerry McNerney, Grace Meng, Jerrold Nadler, Joe Neguse, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Tom O’Halleran, Ilhan Omar, Jimmy Panetta, Chellie Pingree, Katie Porter, Ayanna Pressley, Jamie Raskin, Cedric Richmond, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Bobby Rush, Linda Sánchez, John Sarbanes, Mary Gay Scanlon, Jan Schakowsky, Kim Schrier, MD, Mikie Sherrill, Albio Sires, Adam Smith, Darren Soto, Jackie Speier, Greg Stanton, Tom Suozzi, Mark Takano, Dina Titus, Norma Torres, Lori Trahan, Juan Vargas, Filemon Vela, Bonnie Watson Coleman and Susan Wild.
The full letter is available here.