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Dems question whether administration broke law with citizenship question on census

Dems question whether administration broke law with citizenship question on census
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Congressional Democrats are calling on the Trump administration to explain how adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census complies with a federal data collection law. 

Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Trump administration doubles down on climate skepticism | Suspended EPA health official hits back | Military bases could host coal, gas exports Trump poised to sign bipartisan water infrastructure bill Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senators face Wednesday vote on Trump health plans rule | Trump officials plan downtime for ObamaCare website | Lawmakers push for action on reducing maternal deaths MORE (D-Del.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisOn The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race Election Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight Affordable housing set for spotlight of next presidential campaign MORE (D-Calif.), along with Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsTrump makes new overtures to Democrats Dems eye ambitious agenda if House flips Oversight Dems call for probe into citizenship question on 2020 census MORE (D-Md.) and 31 other Democrats, sent a letter to Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Administrator Neomi Rao and Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossHarris accuses GOP of ‘weaponizing’ 2020 Census DOJ: Commerce chief spoke with Bannon, Sessions about census citizenship question Oversight Dems call for probe into citizenship question on 2020 census MORE questioning whether the Paperwork Reduction Act was violated. 

The law requires federal agencies to evaluate the potential burden that collecting particular information will place on the public and obtain approval from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which oversees OIRA, before proceeding.

According to the OMB, information requested from 10 or more members of the public must be cleared by the agency.

“The PRA requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to review proposed information collections and ensure that agencies are minimizing the burden on the public,” the lawmakers wrote.

“It requires OMB to ensure that the information collection maximizes practical utility and public benefit and — critical in the case of the 2020 Census — protects the integrity, objectivity, impartiality, utility and confidentiality of collected statistical information.”

The Department of Commerce approved a request in March from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to add a question about citizenship status to the 2020 census. The DOJ says it needs the information to better enforce the Voting Rights Act.

But Democrats and civil rights groups fear the question will scare people in immigrant communities from responding to the census, skewing the numbers.

“Numerous experts, organizations, and local and state governments have voiced concern about the addition of a citizenship question and how it may harm the overall accuracy of the census,” the lawmakers wrote. “This includes six former Census Bureau directors, who have warned that ‘adding an untested question on citizenship status at this late point would put the accuracy of the enumeration and success of the census in all communities at grave risk.' ”

Democrats are demanding answers to eight questions, starting with when the Commerce Department plans to initiate the first public comment period by publishing a notice in the Federal Register, as required by the law.