Senate Democrats want Ross to testify on census citizenship question

Senate Democrats want Ross to testify on census citizenship question
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A group of Senate Democrats is requesting a hearing to dig into the 2020 census after the Trump administration announced this week it would include a question on citizenship. 

Democrats sent a letter on Friday to Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonJuan Williams: Putin wins as GOP spins GOP senator: Harley-Davidson is right to move some production overseas GOP senator: Trump’s policies doing 'permanent damage' MORE (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, asking that he schedule the public hearing "at the soonest possible time" and that Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossOn The Money: Commerce to review uranium imports | Lawmakers urge Trump not to impose auto tariffs | White House wants steeper cuts to EPA funding | Google hit with massive B fine Auto industry groups, lawmakers urge Trump administration to avoid tariffs on auto imports Census Bureau faces hiring woes amid low unemployment MORE, who announced the change, be asked to testify.

"We are deeply concerned about the recent announcement by the Commerce Department that it plans to add a new question to the 2020 Census that will ask respondents about their citizenship. We also remain concerned by well-documented management and operational challenges facing the Census Bureau," they wrote. 

Democratic Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisTrump: ‘Dems have a death wish’ Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas Senate Democrats block resolution supporting ICE MORE (Calif.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Fewer than half of school districts test for lead | Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act | FEMA avoids climate change when discussing plan for future storms Dems slam proposed changes to Endangered Species Act Full interview: Democratic candidate Kerri Evelyn Harris discusses her Senate campaign in Delaware MORE (Del.), Gary PetersGary Charles PetersThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump, Putin meet under cloud of Mueller’s Russia indictments Dem senator: Kavanaugh sides with 'wealthiest special interests' Judge on Trump shortlist boasts stint on Michigan's high court MORE (Mich.) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillOvernight Health Care: Trump officials explore importing prescription drugs | Key ObamaCare, drug pricing regs under review | GOP looks to blunt attacks on rising premiums | Merck to lower some drug prices Dems pressure GOP to take legal action supporting pre-existing conditions The Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s walk-back fails to stem outrage on Putin meeting MORE (Mo.) signed the letter. 

The senators added that it was "essential" that Ross explain the "process, testing and analysis" behind adding a citizenship question and its impact on the planning for the 2020 census. 

In addition to Ross, they also want acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore to testify, saying they believe he was "personally involved" in the decision. They also want a second group comprised of Census Bureau staff, stockholders and government watchdogs to assess planning for the 2020 census.  

The Commerce Department announced on Monday evening that it would include a citizenship question in the next decennial survey. Ross, at the time, called it a "long-standing historical practice," though it has not appeared on the full census since 1950.

The move has enraged Democrats. Including a question on citizenship, they warn, could lower participation in immigrant communities and impact how federal resources are allocated or the size of a state's congressional delegation.

The four Democratic senators warned in their letter on Friday of the "risk of substantial undercount of persons" and that the decision to add the question is "tainted by improper political considerations." 

The Department of Justice, under Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein warns of growing cyber threat from Russia, other foreign actors Key GOP lawmaker throws cold water on Rosenstein impeachment With new immigration policy, Trump administration gutting the right to asylum MORE, reportedly pushed for inclusion of the question.

Democrats have introduced legislation to block questions on citizenship or immigration status from being included. But they face an uphill battle to getting a bill through the GOP-controlled Congress. 

Democratic attorneys general in several states, as well as progressive outside groups, have also pledged to bring legal action against the decision.