Bipartisan Bill Aims to Extend the Date for Completing 2020 Census Count

Bipartisan Bill Aims to Extend the Date for Completing 2020 Census Count
A U.S. Census envelope in a file photo. (Michelle R. Smith/AP Photo)
Masooma Haq

With the deadline for the 2020 census counting to end in two weeks, a bipartisan group of senators unveiled a bill Tuesday which would extend two key deadlines for the 2020 census by four months and require the Census Bureau to continue field operations through October.

Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) cite delays caused by the pandemic and say their bill (pdf), The 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act, would ensure a more fair and accurate census count, specifically in Native, minority, and rural communities.

“The pandemic has caused real concerns around getting everyone counted in the 2020 Census," said Schatz.

The senators’ new timeline resembles the revised schedule the census bureau proposed to Congress in April when the Trump administration announced that because of delays caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, the bureau needed more time to complete the count for 2020.
Alaska is recorded as having the lowest census self-response rate in the U.S. 50 states. Murkowski said in a written statement, “Obtaining an accurate Census count is always difficult. But now, with the added delays and difficulties caused by COVID-19, it’s become increasingly clear that more time is needed to ensure a fair and accurate census count.”

She added, “This legislation is critically important, taking into account all the various challenges and hurdles that have occurred during this year’s Census, and providing the extensions necessary to have a complete 2020 Census.”

The census happens every 10 years and is constitutionally mandated.

A companion bill (pdf) to the Senate legislation was introduced in the House by another lawmaker from Alaska, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), along with Rep. Ruben Gallego (D- Ariz.) the same day.
“The administration’s plan to end the Census prematurely guarantees an undercount in America’s most vulnerable communities. Unless we act, Hispanic, Indigenous, rural, and other minority and hard-to-count communities will be robbed of political representation and lose out on their fair share of trillions of dollars of federal funding directed by the Census,” said Gallego in a written statement.

The Senate bill would extend the deadline for the delivery of apportionment data to Congress to April 30, 2021 (from the current December 31, 2020), and states would receive the census data by July 31, 2021, instead of March 31, 2021.

Meanwhile, the Census Bureau released a statement Tuesday saying that over 92 percent of housing units across America have been counted as of September 15.

The statement continued, “with 26.6 [percent] counted by census takers and other field data collection operations, and 65.9 [percent] of housing units responding online, by phone, or by mail.”

In late July the Trump administration ordered the bureau to speed up its efforts in order to end counting on Sept. 30. That came in the wake of President Trump issuing a now-blocked memorandum, which called for illegal immigrants to be excluded from the census count.

The White House did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment on the reason for shortening the census count date.

The census bureau is now facing two federal lawsuits over the administration’s decision to end the census count at the end of September.

Masooma Haq began reporting for The Epoch Times from Pakistan in 2008. She currently covers a variety of topics including U.S. government, culture, and entertainment.
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