US Commerce Secretary denies lying to Congress over 2020 census

17 Mars, 2019, 04:18 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • The chairman of a House oversight panel questioned whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was

House Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings asked Ross whether or not he would withdraw his three prior testimonies stating that he pursued adding a question of citizenship to the 2020 census exclusively due to a request from the DOJ. Jim Jordan said the Democrats' "drumbeat against a legitimate question" about citizenship status will diminish census response rates, and detract from other census-related issues the committee should be probing, like the cyber-security of the first Census that households can respond to online. "Chairman Cummings revealed that John Gore, a Justice Department official, admitted he was provided a draft of the agency's request to the Commerce Department for the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census by an unidentified member of Mr. Trump's transition team". Ross claimed that DOJ wanted to add the question in order to better enforce aspects of the Voting Rights Act.

At Thursday's hearing, Democrats focused on emails showing that Ross discussed adding the citizenship question with Trump administration officials early in 2017. "That's what I had in mind".

"I have never intentionally misled Congress or intentionally lied under oath", Ross said.

"We need your commitment, your full commitment, with these specific communications that we'll get cooperation to get to the facts". He said that the Department of Justice had asked the Census Bureau to reinstate the citizenship question to help it enforce the Voting Rights Act. House Democrats are skeptical about those motives.

"You are complicit in the Trump administration's attempt to suppress the growing political power of the non-white population", Representative Lacy Clay of Missouri said at Thursday's hearing.

Ross denied that he was hiding any ulterior motives.

"Obtaining complete and accurate information for use in determining citizen voting populations to enforce the Voting Rights Act is a legitimate government objective", said Ross.

House Oversight Democrats sought to grill Ross on any White House conversations, given that his testimony in front of Congress previous year suggested he had none.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is set to face tough questioning from lawmakers Thursday about why he approved including a citizenship question on the upcoming 2020 census.

The addition of the question - which asks individuals to state whether they are U.S. citizens - is deeply controversial because it could under-count immigrant communities, which affects the number of congressional seats and Electoral College votes and the amount of federal funding a state will receive in the future.

Ross said the Census Bureau was already trying to reach these communities.

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"I want to be clear we intend to count as many people as possible", Ross said, noting that he had increased the budget for the census, including a $500 million advertising campaign.

Republican members were generally satisfied with Ross' actions.

The most withering criticism came from Rep.

Under the terms of his appearance, the committee agreed not to question him about his financial disclosures and would accept responses to questions about them in writing.

Census Day for this cycle is April 1, 2020. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman ruled on that case January 15, ordering the question's removal.

"The memo explains", a press release from the Oversight Committee reads.

Two federal judges have ruled that Ross' planned addition of the question violated administrative law and was unconstitutional.

In the main decennial census, the government has not asked about citizenship since 1950, although the question is included on smaller survey's on a fraction of USA populace.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the matter April 23 in NY.

Saying Ross had not submitted the required third report to Congress, Ocasio-Cortez asked, "Why are we violating the law to include this question?"

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