Trump official subpoenaed by House panel for Census documents
House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) on Thursday issued a subpoena to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for documents regarding delays with the 2020 Census due to data problems.
Maloney said that while Ross has made two document productions to the Oversight Committee, they included “reams of non-responsive and outdated documents” that she said weren’t responsive to Democrats’ requests seeking information about Census delays.
“Your approach to Congress’ oversight responsibilities has been abominable. You have repeatedly withheld documents that should have been produced as a matter of course to your Department’s oversight committee,” Maloney wrote in a letter to Ross. “You also have repeatedly failed to inform the Committee on a timely basis of grave problems with the Census, forcing us time and time again to read about them in the press rather than from the agency you lead.”
“By blocking the production of documents requested by the Committee, you and others in the Trump Administration are preventing Congress from verifying the scope of these anomalies, their impact on the accuracy of the Census, and the time that professionals at the Census Bureau need to fix them,” Maloney wrote.
The subpoena orders Ross to produce the documents by Dec. 21.
Maloney has been asking Ross to provide the documents since November regarding the accuracy of Census data and potential delays, including memos and presentations used in briefings with top administration officials.
The committee previously obtained internal documents from another source indicating that the Census Bureau will need several extra weeks to review data anomalies impacting hundreds of thousands of records, including one presentation for Census Bureau officials predicting that the count wouldn’t be completed until late January or early February.
The Trump administration initially asked Congress in April to extend the statutory deadline for delivering reapportionment totals in April 2021 instead of Dec. 31. But Trump changed course in July and demanded that it be completed by Dec. 31.
The New York Times reported last week that Census Bureau experts found additional problems that will delay the completion of state population totals.
The Trump administration has been pushing to exclude undocumented immigrants from the population count used to allocate the number of congressional districts for each state.
The Supreme Court last week appeared reluctant to issue an immediate ruling to stop the Trump administration’s plan to subtract immigrants living in the U.S. illegally from the population count. The justices appeared skeptical that the Trump administration could implement the changes in a short time frame before Trump leaves office.
The House previously voted last year to hold Ross and Attorney General William Barr in contempt for defying subpoenas to provide documents regarding the Trump administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the Census.
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