Court Battles

House panel, Commerce Department reach agreement on census documents

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The House Oversight and Reform Committee and the Commerce Department reached a deal on Tuesday that could bring about a settlement of a lawsuit filed in 2019 by the panel against two Trump administration officials involving the 2020 census and an investigation into efforts to add a citizenship question to the survey. 

In the proposed deal filed in court on Monday, members on the House committee and their staffers would be authorized to review the census documents in person and write down notes but not make copies, whether they be electronic or photographic.

Some information, however, will still be redacted. The committee will then have 30 days to request that specific, relevant documents be disclosed. 

The congressional panel and the Commerce Department have been working on landing a deal since January, according to The Associated Press, when President Biden was sworn in.

The Democratic-lead Oversight panel in November 2019 sued then-Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for their refusal to act in accordance with congressional subpoenas that were part of the panel’s investigation into the failed effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The Supreme Court ultimately blocked the question from being added to the count that occurs every 10 years. 

The Oversight panel again subpoenaed Ross in December 2020 for documents that related to delays in releasing the 2020 census, which were, at the time, attributed to data problems.

The 2020 census was ultimately released earlier this month and showed that the U.S. is diversifying at the fastest rate in the history of the country, even as the overall growth of the population has stagnated. 

The Hill reached out to the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the Commerce Department for comment.

Tags Joe Biden Wilbur Ross William Barr

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