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H.R.5359 / S.2578 - 2020 Census IDEA Act

Senator Brian Schatz speaking at an event

To amend title 13, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Commerce to provide advance notice to Congress before changing any questions on the decennial census, and for other purposes.

You might favor this bill if:
►  You believe that the 2020 Census should not have any last minute changes unless adequately researched, tested, and studied before census day. Since the Census redraws congressional district maps, determines the number of House members each state gets, and determines the number of electoral votes each state receives, the Census should be changed with ample time and with congressional oversight.

You might oppose this bill if:
►  You believe that the 2020 Census should be able to be changed and edited at any time. The redistribution of district maps, State House members, and electoral votes should be determined by the number of Citizens in the country, not by its residents.

The 2020 Census Improving Data and Enhanced Accuracy Act would strengthen congressional oversight over the census operational plan and ensure that every decennial census is adequately researched, tested, and studied before census day.

More specifically, the proposed legislation would:
- prohibit last minute changes to the census without proper research;
- require biannual reports to Congress on the status of research and testing of Census Bureau’s operational plan; and
- mandate the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to certify that subjects, information, and questions on the decennial have been sufficiently researched and tested before the census can begin.

On March 26, 2018, the Department of Commerce announced that the Census Bureau will include a question regarding citizenship status on the 2020 Census. According to former Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt, adding a citizenship question “will drive the response rate down enormously,” and increase the undercounting of both citizens and non-citizens in the decennial census. In addition to reducing the accuracy of the census, a citizenship question will “undo decades of work to convince immigrants and communities of color” to respond to the census and necessitate an increase in costly non-response follow-up activities. Many citizens also worry about the data handling of the 2020 Census and whether the data will be improperly shared with other government agencies.

In a letter to Trey Gowdy (R), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Congresswoman Maloney (D) said, "The recent actions of the Trump Administration raise concerns about its commitment to fulfill the Constitutional mandate to conduct a fair, equitable, and complete count of the nation. The 2020 Census IDEA Act will help mitigate these concerns. I respectfully urge you to hold a legislative hearing on this timely piece of legislation so that we may move forward with our mandate to fully count every American resident.”

On November 5th, 2018, the trial over whether the Trump administration can ask about citizenship on the 2020 census went to trial. Several states are suing the Trump administration arguing that including the citizenship question will make some people less likely to respond to the census, therefore leading to an inaccurate count and the potential loss of billions of dollars in federal funding.

Arturo Vargas, National Advisory Committee of the Census member and Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund notes that, “each question on the decennial survey has been thoroughly tested to ensure it is well understood by the public, and does not depress response rates. Adding any question at this moment, whether on citizenship or any other topic, would sabotage the Census Bureau’s efforts as it prepares to implement a re-engineered, high-tech enumeration strategy.”

Changes in Census data can ultimately be politicized. Census data is used to redraw House districts and the number of House seats each state receives, as well as determining each state’s number of electoral votes in a presidential election.

Democrats believe that changing census questions could result in an improper count, which would result in an inaccurate redistribution of the political spectrum.

Republicans believe the changes to the Census can provide a more accurate playing field.

Congressman Warren Davidson (R) said, "apportionment for Congressional seats and electoral votes should be based on citizens, not on residents. Otherwise citizens are underrepresented... For example, California gets roughly three extra members of Congress based on estimates of illegal residents."


Sponsored by: Rep. Carolyn Maloney[D-NY].

Cosponsored by: 0 Rep / 8 Dem.

See list of cosponsors.


Sponsored by: Sen. Brian Schatz [D-HI].

Cosponsored by: 0 Rep / 4 Dem.

See list of cosponsors.

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