Peters Presses for Full Funding for 2020 Census as Congress Finalizes Spending Bills

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, this week urged the Senate Appropriations Committee to include full funding for the 2020 Census in any government funding bill passed before the end of the fiscal year. Peters explained to his colleagues that, without its full operating budget of $7.5 billion, the Census could be compromised in its mission of effectively reaching every community to achieve a full and accurate count. Michigan receives nearly $29 billion in federal funds annually, and an inaccurate count could jeopardize those funds for communities across the state. Estimates show the state could lose $1,800 in funding per year for every person not counted.

“As Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I am acutely aware that the Census Bureau requires robust, on-time funding to complete crucial operations for the 2020 Census” Peters wrote. “Because of the constitutional and statutory requirements to conduct the census on schedule, the time-sensitive nature of final census preparations, and the need to ensure the Census Bureau does not face a funding shortfall during the enumeration, the Bureau must receive its full 2020 Census funding by October 1, rather than temporary funding.”

The U.S. Census Bureau relies on sufficient funding to ensure the 2020 Census stays on schedule, uses taxpayer dollars responsibly and gets an accurate count. Any delays to the census as a result of insufficient funding could risk inaccuracies, drive up costs and hinder participation from communities. Michigan is home to more than 800,000 residents who are considered “hard to count,” including some young children, African Americans and students.

As Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters has continued to press for adequate funding for the U.S. Census Bureau. Earlier this year, he called for the inclusion of an additional $3.8 billion for census operations in the 2019 government funding bill that passed in February. The bipartisan legislation included a $1 billion increase over the prior year’s funding to ensure greater accuracy of census data for communities in Michigan and across the country as the U.S. Census Bureau prepares to conduct the 2020 Census.

The text of the letter is copied below and available here:

 

The Honorable Richard Shelby                                  The Honorable Patrick Leahy
Chairman                                                                    Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Appropriations                         Senate Committee on Appropriations
Room 128, U.S. Capitol                                              Room 146A, U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20510                                               Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Leahy:

As you finalize appropriations measures for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, I request that you support the 2020 Census by ensuring the Census Bureau receives full funding for Decennial Census operations, at $7.5 billion, before the beginning of the Fiscal Year on October 1, 2019.

As Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I am acutely aware that the Census Bureau requires robust, on-time funding to complete crucial operations for the 2020 Census. Because of the constitutional and statutory requirements to conduct the census on schedule, the time-sensitive nature of final census preparations, and the need to ensure the Census Bureau does not face a funding shortfall during the enumeration, the Bureau must receive its full 2020 Census funding by October 1, rather than temporary funding. Without funding certainty at the start of the Fiscal Year, the Census Bureau will be unable to adequately plan for 2020 operations and could decide to curtail essential activities in order to prevent a shortfall.

In a hearing on the 2020 Census that my Committee held on July 16, 2019, Steven Dillingham, Director of the Census Bureau, described the complex operations the Bureau must complete in the next several months and emphasized that “Funding certainty is needed throughout the 2020 census.” In the first three months of Fiscal Year 2020, October through December 2019, the Bureau must finish in-field address list verification and updating; complete final IT testing and cybersecurity operations; release nationwide advertising and communications strategies; and continue recruitment, hiring, and training for peak census operations field staff. The Bureau must also make final preparations to begin enumeration in remote Alaska by January 21, 2020, launch nationwide self-response on March 12, and conduct community outreach throughout the year. Adequate, timely funding will also allow the Census Bureau to reduce the risk of threats to an accurate census, including natural disasters, cyber events, and low initial self-response.

Full-year funding of $7.5 billion is necessary for a complete and accurate Decennial Census. I previously requested this amount in regular appropriations for FY20, including funding for expanded communications and assistance in hard-to-count communities. The House Appropriations Committee provided this amount in its FY 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. As you finalize appropriations measures before October 1, I urge you to include this amount in any regular appropriations bill or any necessary stopgap Continuing Resolution for FY 2020.

Thank you for your consideration.

 

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