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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 PelosiSunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus Calls grow for 9/11-style panel to probe Capitol attack Do Democrats really want unity? MORE (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse GOP leader says he has 'concerns' over Cheney's impeachment vote McCarthy says he told Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene he disagreed with her impeachment articles against Biden Cheney tests Trump grip on GOP post-presidency MORE (R-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate Kentucky Republican committee rejects resolution urging McConnell to condemn Trump impeachment Calls grow for 9/11-style panel to probe Capitol attack MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerCapitol insurrection fallout: A PATRIOT Act 2.0? Schumer calls for DOJ watchdog to probe alleged Trump effort to oust acting AG Student loan forgiveness would be windfall for dentists, doctors and lawyers MORE (D-N.Y.), 48 senators — including GOP Alaska Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump impeachment trial to begin week of Feb. 8 Murkowski didn't vote for Trump, won't join Democrats Trump impeachment article being sent to Senate Monday MORE and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanSenators vet Buttigieg to run Transportation Department McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Senate poised to override Trump's defense bill veto 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 RossOn 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 US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits Census Bureau racing to complete noncitizen data, watchdog says 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 TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call 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.