Bennet, Democratic Colleagues Press Trump Administration to Explain How Late Addition of Census Citizenship Question Will Comply with Federal Law

Lawmakers demand answers from Administrator Rao, Secretary Ross following rushed decision to add untested citizenship question to the 2020 Census

Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, along with more than 30 House and Senate Democrats, this week called on the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Neomi Rao and Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to explain how the Trump administration plans to comply with federal law following its hasty decision to include a question on citizenship to the upcoming 2020 Decennial Census.

Federal agencies seeking to collect information from the public must comply with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). The law requires agencies to evaluate the need to collect information and the potential burden that collecting particular information will place on the public. The PRA also provides two opportunities for members of the public to review and comment on proposed information collections. However, the Trump administration has yet to initiate the first public comment period and has not committed to make comments it receives available to the public.

In order to evaluate the Trump administration’s adherence to the PRA, lawmakers asked Administrator Rao and Secretary Ross if the citizenship question was properly tested prior to the March 26, 2018 announcement, and, if not, how they intend to ensure its accuracy without testing; when the first public comment period will be opened for the public to express any concerns they may have; and what mechanisms will be utilized to ensure adding such a question will not tarnish the integrity of the 2020 Decennial Census. 

Earlier this year, Bennet introduced legislation to prohibit the Census Bureau from asking a question on citizenship or immigration status. 

A copy of the letter is available HERE.