President Trump Requests a Delay of the Census Amid Pandemic

April 15, 2020 Updated: April 15, 2020

President Donald Trump told reporters on Monday that his administration is going to request a delay in the Census, so that the count can be completed in a more safe and accurate way.

“So, the Census, we’re going to be asking for a delay—a major delay, I think.  How can you possibly be knocking on doors for a long period of time now?”

The Census Bureau made a decision early Monday to suspend its field operation data-collection until June to help stop the spread of the virus.  That was after the Census Bureau reported 48 percent of households have already responded to the census.

“While millions of Americans continue to complete their questionnaire online, the Census Bureau has asked Congress for a 120 extension. I don’t know that you even have to ask them. This is called ‘an act of God.’ This is called a—a situation that has to be—they have to give in. I think 120 days isn’t nearly enough,” said the President.

The Census Bureau said it is “seeking statutory relief from Congress of 120 additional calendar days to deliver final apportionment counts.”

Census data is important because it is used to determine congressional representation as well as federal funding allocations.

In a joint statement sent Monday by U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham, the reasons for the extension were revealed.

The Bureau said that they want to protect the health of employees, follow the guidelines set by the federal and state government, and have the most accurate count possible.

“Under this plan, the Census Bureau would extend the window for field data collection and self-response to October 31, 2020, which will allow for apportionment counts to be delivered to the President by April 30, 2021, and redistricting data to be delivered to the states no later than July 31, 2021.”

In response to the Trump administration’s request for a delay of the census, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said in a press release, “As Chairwoman of the authorizing committee for the Census Bureau, I am committed to a complete and accurate Census count. The Oversight Committee will carefully examine the Administration’s request, but we need more information that the Administration has been unwilling to provide.”

In the statement, Maloney said that the administration has declined repeated requests for Dillingham to brief the committee about the census.

“The Constitution charges Congress with determining how the Census is conducted, so we need the Administration to cooperate with our requests so we can make informed decisions on behalf of the American people.”

In a separate statement, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said, “The Trump Administration must fully explain any request to delay the Census tally and the Census Director should fully explain how a complete and accurate count will be carried out. I will continue to work closely with Chairwoman Maloney and the House Oversight and Reform Committee to monitor developments relating to the 2020 Census. We must ensure that every person living in our country is counted, as the Constitution requires.”