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Senators urge for a census deadline extension to be included in the upcoming COVID-19 relief package 

Letter comes after Trump administration shortened census enumeration period from October 31 to September 30

Census response rate is below 64% nationally; Washington state response rate is 69.3%, Washington ranks 3rd among the states

WASHINGTON DC – Today, U.S Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), joined U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in sending a bipartisan letter to House and Senate leaders urging for the extension of critical census deadlines to be included in the upcoming COVID-19 relief package. In their letter, the senators called for extending the statutory deadlines for the delivery of apportionment data and redistricting files following the 2020 Census.

In April, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham requested that Congress extend the deadlines for apportionment to April 30, 2021, and redistricting to July 31, 2021. However, the administration then reversed course and shortened the enumeration period from October 31, 2020, to September 30, 2020. In their letter, the senators underscored the need to give the Census Bureau adequate time to collect and report an accurate count following delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Career Census Bureau staff have indicated that they cannot meet the existing statutory deadlines. In May 2020, the census official leading field operations, Tim Olson, stated, ‘We have passed the point where we could even meet the current legislative requirement of December 31. We can’t do that anymore.’ And in July, the associate director of the census, Albert Fontenot, said, ‘We are past the window of being able to get those counts’ by year’s end,” the senators wrote.

“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 national response rate for the 2020 census currently stands at 63.4%, and Washington state ranks third among the states—after Minnesota and Wisconsin—with a 69.3% response rate. An interactive map with real-time census response data for Washington state is available HERE.

In addition to Senators Murray, Cantwell, Schatz, and Murkowski, the letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tom Carper (D-DE), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Michael Bennet (D-CO.), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mark Warner (D-VA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Angus King (I-ME), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Gary Peters (D-MI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Chris Murphy (D-CT).

Those who have not yet filled out the 2020 Census can complete it at 2020Census.gov.

The full text of the letter is available below and HERE.

Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader McCarthy:

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.

On April 13, 2020, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham announced that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they would be adjusting 2020 Census operations. At the same time, they had requested that the 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.” This would have given the Census Bureau adequate time to compile the data sets in light of the delayed enumeration window. However, the administration has reversed course and shortened the enumeration period from October 31 to September 30, 2020, citing these statutory constraints.

Career Census Bureau staff have indicated that they cannot meet the existing statutory deadlines. In May 2020, the census official leading field operations, Tim Olson, stated, “We have passed the point where we could even meet the current legislative requirement of December 31. We can’t do that anymore.” And in July, the associate director of the census, Albert Fontenot, said, “We are past the window of being able to get those counts” by year’s end.

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. We thank you for your consideration of our request.

Sincerely,

 

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