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Bipartisan senators ask congressional leadership to extend census deadline

Bipartisan senators ask congressional leadership to extend census deadline
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A bipartisan group of senators are asking congressional leaders to include an extension of the statutory deadlines for the 2020 census in the next coronavirus relief package.

In a letter to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiVaccinated lawmakers no longer required to wear masks on House floor Simmering Democratic tensions show signs of boiling over Pelosi signals no further action against Omar MORE (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyPelosi, leaders seek to squelch Omar controversy with rare joint statement Omar: I wasn't equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries Schumer bemoans number of Republicans who believe Trump will be reinstated: 'A glaring warning' MORE (R-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWhy the Democrats need Joe Manchin Out-of-touch Democrats running scared of progressives The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Bipartisan group reaches infrastructure deal; many questions remain MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDOJ to probe Trump-era subpoenas of lawmaker records Democrats demand Barr, Sessions testify on Apple data subpoenas Out-of-touch Democrats running scared of progressives MORE (D-N.Y.), 48 senators — including GOP Alaska Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiWhite House briefed on bipartisan infrastructure deal but says questions remain Bipartisan Senate group announces infrastructure deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden mission abroad: reward friends, constrain adversaries MORE and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanChina conducts amphibious landing drill near Taiwan after senators' visit US, Taiwan to discuss trade, investments, Blinken says Chinese state media rip senators' stop in Taiwan: 'A treacherous move' MORE and 46 Democrats — said an extension is needed to ensure an accurate count for apportionment and redistrict.

“As you work on the next legislative package to address the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we strongly urge you to extend the statutory deadlines for the delivery of apportionment data and redistricting files following the 2020 Census,” they wrote.

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“Extending the deadlines for the delivery of these files in the next COVID-19 relief package will ensure that the Census Bureau has adequate time to complete a full, fair, and accurate 2020 Census. It will also ensure that both the Congress and the states receive accurate data for apportionment and redistricting.” 

The letter cited a request from April from Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossCommerce Department unit gathered intel on employees, census critics: report Former Trump officials find tough job market On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits MORE and Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham that Congress extend the statutory deadlines “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.”

Since then, Trump administration has decided to curtail the census's enumeration period from the end of October to Sept. 30 due to statutory constraints during the coronavirus pandemic.

Census Bureau officials have expressed doubt they could get a proper count completed by the deadline.

“We have passed the point where we could even meet the current legislative requirement of December 31. We can’t do that anymore,” Tim Olson, who leads field operations for the census, said in a May quote cited in the letter.

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The letter is just the latest development as the Census Bureau races to complete a full count of the population, with millions of dollars for states and the makeup of House districts on the line.

Current models predict an accurate count would lead Rust Belt States, California and Alabama to lose seats while the Sun Belt, Montana and Oregon would see their congressional delegations grow. One study estimated that a state gets around $2,000 in federal money over the next decade for every person counted as a resident.

The decennial population count has already been thrust into uncertainty with the tightened timeline sparking fears that hard-to-reach communities, particularly communities of color, could be undercounted.

Meanwhile, President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says Putin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president MORE in July issued an order seeking to block undocumented immigrants from being counted in the 2020 census for the purpose of allocating congressional representation, though that measure was met with swift legal challenges.